When Paul Taylor started dating Harvey McCartney seven years ago, he realised if they were ever to get married he could end up sharing a name with one of the world’s most famous men.
What he didn’t know was that Harvey’s legal name was also Paul and he had grown up hearing Beatles jokes repeatedly.
Here, the now-married couple each talk about what it’s like to navigate life as a Paul McCartney.
I didn’t really become aware of the ramifications of having my name until I was 10 years old.
That’s when I started to notice that people of all ages, including my school friends, would ask how Linda (Paul McCartney’s wife at the time) was, or would ask after Ringo. In fact, kids in my junior school would ask me if my dad had dropped me off at school in his yellow submarine!
I can laugh about it now, but looking back, I think that type of continual name-calling was a subtle form of bullying. I would even say I was victimised, to a degree.
While I didn’t say anything to my peers about how uncomfortable it made me, I came to resent my namesake and developed a healthy dislike for The Beatles.
There was one quite amusing story, though. I must have been no older than nine, and some friends and I were messing about on the buses. We got reported and caught by the transport police.
One of the officers asked us our names, which was fine until it came to me and I told him.
The officers let the others go but kept me back as they thought I was being smart with them. They detained me until my dad had time to come down to the station with documents to prove the truth.
I was horrified!
My poor parents – they didn’t intend to name me after the singer. I was born in 1963, just as The Beatles were starting to become well-known, so they had never heard of him.
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When they did get famous, neither of my parents were fans of the band and they were more into artists like Connie Francis and Matt Monro.
Still, when I decided I wanted to be known as Harvey at 18, they refused to start calling me anything else – I was always Paul to them and still am to my sister.
The moment that sparked the change came when I started trying to open my own bank account. It was around the same time that I was applying for a passport and driving licence, too. I would be speaking to people on the phone and they would hang up upon hearing my name, thinking it was a hoax call!
When I went to fashion school, I introduced myself as Harvey or Harv. I liked the name and I thought it was sophisticated and would make me stand out, especially given how many men born in the 60s were called Paul.
I confided in friends about my real name, but I asked them not to let it slip – and thankfully they stuck to their word.
Still, I didn’t change it legally until after Paul and I got married as I didn’t see the need. But I would still cringe on the rare occasions when I would have to hear people’s responses to my birth name.
Whenever I was sat in the GP surgery waiting room, for example, and ‘Paul McCartney’ would be called out or appear on the screen. I would hear people snigger, mutter or laugh.
Although I didn’t go by that name any more, those reactions hurt. Even when people were just trying to make conversation by asking if I was related to him, or we’d ever met, I just felt self-conscious.
Now that I’m no longer Paul, I feel a lot better. I would even say that I have grown into being Harvey Taylor-McCartney.
I underestimated the impact sharing a name with Paul McCartney had on Harvey when we were just dating, but it became clear as soon as we got engaged and the jokes started to flow.
I was considering asking one of my very good friends to be my best man – up until he revealed that he was looking forward to working as many of The Beatles’ songs into his speech as possible.
Given Harvey’s distaste for the music of his namesake, I knew that I would have to find someone else.
But aside from that, I wasn’t too concerned about becoming Paul McCartney. What did worry me was that his name would be exactly the same as mine.
I feared that there would literally be nothing to tell us apart, especially as we are similar to look at. We both have shaved heads, established beards, wear specs, and even have a similar style of dress.
This nightmare became a reality when we went on our honeymoon to Mauritius, with some of the hotel staff joking that we were having a ‘twinny-moon’, which does not bear thinking about!
Thank goodness we decided to adopt a double-barrelled name in the long run. Also, when Harvey changed his name legally, that helped ease my nerves slightly.
Having said that, things do become complicated when we’re around his family. To them, he is Paul and I also slip into calling him that in front of them. It can get a bit confusing for us both when I hear his family call his name and I respond.
Thankfully, over the years, we have found a way to make it work – but to them we’re the two Pauls.
To everyone else, however, I am the one with the famous name now. It doesn’t help that I’m a singer and musician in a band, but I am grateful that I moved from teaching secondary school to higher education before I got married.
The idea of teaching sixth formers, referring to me as ‘Sir’ Paul McCartney makes me realise I’ve had a lucky escape there.
I’m slightly more fortunate than Harv in that people’s responses vary a bit more now than when he was growing up. Anyone my age and above naturally slips into ribbing me, like they did him years ago, but thankfully for a lot of the younger generation it doesn’t immediately click.
I think it helps that I have my original surname in there to disrupt the associations. But I actually quite like having a double-barrelled name that just happens to reference one of the greatest singer-songwriters of his time.
It’s also easier for me than it was for Harvey because I’m not averse to being the centre of attention, whereas he doesn’t like it, so I don’t mind all the back and forth so much.
That said, I’m already dreading the awards ceremony when I qualify for my doctorate. I’m just hoping they’re still being officiated online by then so I can’t hear people whispering or giggling when my name is read out.
I also refrain from giving the ‘McCartney’ part of my surname when speaking to people on the phone or booking a table for dinner. I don’t really want anyone saying my full name out loud as we arrive for a quiet dinner, or making some joke about having someone famous dining with them that evening.
But unlike Harv, I’m in no rush to change my name again. The same cannot be said of my middle name – but that’s an altogether different story!
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