Choosing a name for a new business is, I’ve discovered, even trickier than deciding on the name of a radio programme. What they both have in common though – or should have – is the goal of coming up with something that meets the criteria of doing “exactly what it says on the tin”. To that end, you can’t be too clever, nor too enigmatic. My first ever BBC radio series was about famous hoaxes and it was called ‘Waiting for Mermaids’ but you had to be halfway through the first episode before you heard the story of the Hong Kong fishermen who sparked a huge frenzy when they told people they had captured an actual mermaid out in the South China Sea. The title didn’t really fit the rest of the series, which went on to talk about the Hitler Diaries and the sinister caller who wasted years of police time by claiming to be the Yorkshire Ripper.
In the appendix to my book I listed fifty programmes with which I was proud to be associated in my career and I concluded by giving an honourable mention to a programme which ended up with one of the most bizarre and convoluted titles I ever came up with. It was a Saturday afternoon conversation format featuring the wives of famous sports people, but, ahem, they would also be talking about cooking. So the original title was ‘Wives with Knives’. I liked the poetry of that, but a colleague expressed alarm that the show was airing during a period when knife crime in Glasgow was making headlines. Panicking, we changed it to ‘Wives with Knives and Spoons’, but then another colleague noted that the title didn’t make it clear that the show would also include music, and so… ‘Wives with Knives and Spoons and Tunes’ was what we eventually put in the Radio Times.
Anyway, let’s get down to business, or rather my new business. An intensive Business Gateway course in Inverness gave me the push I needed to get things going. In the past 12 months people have been kind enough to employ me either as a writer or lecturer or have asked me to offer advice on podcasting and publicity. Combining all this into one operation seemed like a way forward and, as I began to fill in various forms for those lovely people at HMRC, I realised I would have to come up with a name for what, I’m certain, will eventually be a huge multinational conglomerate swallowing up every other media business on the face of the planet. Of course, in this online world, you need to come up with a domain name too and it’s frustrating when you realise that all your best ideas have already been registered. But then I went back to basics. What is it that I do, and what should it say on the tin? Well, I write…and, er, I speak. So Writes and Speaks it is.