By: Kate Youde and Tara Mulholland (additional reporting Charlotte Sundberg and Phillip Wood)
|Roger Hargreaves' cartoon phenomenon is celebrating its |
To mark the 40th anniversary of Roger Hargreaves’ cartoon phenomenon, we track down the Mr. Men namesakes.
Former Big Brother contestant Jon Tickle, 37, lives near Staines in Surrey and designs databases for British Gas
"It's a perennial problem finding shirts that fit. Marks & Spencer do a good line in shirts 2ins longer than normal in the sleeve, but I often wear short sleeves. It's quite handy: I am 6ft 2in and have long arms. The ability to reach stuff is definitely a core skill."
Paul Strong, 48, of Rushden, Northamptonshire, is founder of Be Strong Life Coaching
"I remember when Mr. Strong was released. Before then, I would get teased because of my name, but things changed and it became a much more positive name for me. I used to get a little bit of bullying – I was called 'Mr Weak' because I was built like a pencil ... People still have a bit of fun with it, but it's become much more positive now."
Sebastian Wrong, 39, is development director for London design and manufacturing company Established & Sons
"You get all the usual stuff at school: 'Wrong by name, wrong by nature', 'Two wrongs don't make a right'. And there was somebody called Wright, which led to more jokes. I'm launching my own shop at the end of the year, called the Wrong Shop."
Darren Cool, 26, is a photographer for the Brighton and Hove Studio
"I've been given a lot of Mr Men T-shirts ... In fact, my girlfriend was given a 'My boyfriend thinks he's Mr Cool' shirt. When I went on holiday to Jamaica I got a free boat ride because of my name. And my middle name is Robert, so my initials spell 'Dr Cool'."
Little Miss Sunshine
Hayley Sunshine, 29, of Harlow, Essex, is a field marketing executive
"I have just come back from LA and I've been telling everyone at work and they said, 'I bet everyone loved your surname'. In the business I work in, everyone knows me as Little Miss Sunshine. It's just a nice name. I think I have always been known as a bubbly character and the name fits, basically. I am very positive."
Robert Snow, 39, of Southampton is a speechwriter
"Every Christmas, people comment on my surname. Cashiers in banks say, 'Oh, it's your kind of weather'. I remember watching Mr. Men on TV, but I never knew there was a Mr. Snow – that's cool! Oh, I didn't mean to say that."
Little Miss Wise
Nicola Wise, 41, of Northampton, is a graphic designer
"I was Wise and then I got married and my surname became Tunbridge. Before I got divorced, I changed my name back to Wise by deed poll. I like the name: it's short, it's easier to spell. I like Nicola Wise as a person as well."
American-born JD Bump, 38, lives in Inverness, Scotland, and is the founder of coffee roasting business Nola Bump's Coffee Co
"I am not accident-prone at all. In college I used to make up a story, because lots of people thought it was a nickname and called me just 'Bump'. They didn't know it was my real name, so I'd make up this story about a hang-gliding accident."
Little Miss Neat
Amelia Neat, 35, lives near Bath and is insert sales manager for TRT Media Sales
"I am neat by name and neat by nature. I get that a lot ... I'm verging on OCD, really. I am always – especially round the house – tidying every five minutes, wiping down surfaces. My work desk has neat little piles of paperwork everywhere: things have to be just so."
Romain Rude, 31, originally from Lyons, France, is a selection analyst at direct marketing agency Proximity London
"Most of the time people think that it's a cool name, to be honest, or at least that's what they say ... I notice people laughing at it the most when I am in a doctor's waiting room or hospital ... I've just found out that Mr. Rude is actually French! I think we are rude compared to the English."
Little Miss Quick
Liz Quick, 48, is a lecturer in events management at the University of West London
"I get a lot of comments from people and the same old jokes: 'Are you really quick?' It used to be a nightmare at school sports day or in any races. Most people think they are the first to have thought of the joke. I often get people saying, 'Quick, quick, slow' and stuff like that."
Laurent Busy, 39, of London, is exchange permissions manager for IG Markets
"I get quite a lot of funny reactions. There's the obvious ones and the jokes: 'Are you busy?' There's always a lot of banter going on in the office. I also get the funny pictures that might be ripped off the internet: people might get a picture and superimpose my face on Mr Busy, who is all blue with a hat."
Andy Tall, 39, lives in London and is senior manager at Partnership Marketing Network
"I get a lot of questions about how to spell my surname, as if people can't believe it's real. I remember thinking it was great to share my name with a book character. It was also the time Star Wars came out, so I was probably wishing my name was Skywalker."
Little Miss Star
Hayley Star, 22, of St Albans, Hertfordshire, runs a dance school, Dancing Stars
"The name of the school was an easy choice. I find it really catchy and appealing to children ... Everybody always asks if it's a stage name, which it's not. It's funny really, no one understands. I nicknamed my little boy Rocco, 'Rock Star'. I'm sure he will be."
Little Miss Lucky
Claire Lucky, 33, of London, is a museum administrator at Sir John Soane's Museum
"My family are often asked if we are lucky. It does make people smile when we say, 'Lucky by name, lucky by nature!' I feel like I am Miss Lucky – I have good health and fantastic family and friends. I love my name. I couldn't bring myself to lose it if I were ever to marry – the best I could do is double-barrel it. I dated a Mr Star once: imagine being Mrs Lucky-Star! I would love to meet Mr Charm or Mr Smile ..."
Peter Greedy, 46, of Cheltenham, is the inventor of Greeper laces
"People find my surname amusing at times and have a giggle when I introduce myself, but I'm in my 40s so it doesn't bother me any more. I've heard all the jokes before, so I'm used to it."
Frenchman Philippe Messy, 41, is partner in Knightsbridge restaurant Chabrot Bistrot d'Amis
"I'm not messy. I leave things around but I know where they are ... It's not the same spelling, but when I talk to someone who doesn't know the spelling, because of Lionel Messi, the Barcelona footballer, they always relate it to the famous Mr Messi."
Mark Small, 20, of Southampton is a fashion student
"It's funny because, unlike any other children's book, the Mr. Men series will stay with me all my life. Once I locked my best friend outside his house. We saw the top bathroom window open. I climbed up and got in. I had no idea how I managed to fit through such a tiny window; maybe I am Mr Small after all."
Little Miss Shy
Zofnat Shy, 42, of London is a support engineer
"I moved to the UK five years ago from Israel, where my surname is common and is derived from Hebrew. However, I am not shy at all! I am very outspoken and very direct in my approach. Ask any of my friends or family and they will tell you that I am not backwards in coming forward."
Casper Jelly, 30, of London, is a software developer
"In general I grew up with a lot of teasing, and it didn't help when I started to put on weight in my teens. My first name didn't help either, but these days I'm far more likely get compliments about both my names."
Calling Little Miss Magic...
Some of the 47 Mr. Men and 34 Little Misses published have proved rather elusive. Where are the real Mr Nosey and Mr Fussy? Do you know a Mr Lazy, Mr Noisy or Mr Chatterbox? Is it possible there is a Mr Impossible? We found a Mrs Magic but no Little Miss. Is there a Little Miss Naughty out there or Little Miss Trouble? Contact us via email at sundaynews@ independent.co.uk if you know where they are
Good, Muddle, Grumble
The 20 people featured weren't the only ones we found sharing their names with Mr. Men and Little Misses.
Spare a thought for 63-year-old Mr Grumble, of Ipswich, whose name makes it difficult for him to complain: "If you call a helpline, you go through the whole process of saying what's wrong, but there always comes the time when you have to give your name, and you can sense them thinking, 'Well, that makes sense'," explains Geoff, a quality manager at Actaris Metering Systems.
There are probably a lot of people out there hoping to meet Mr Perfect; we found him in Norwich. Tim Perfect, 39, is director of Sigman, a storage company. He keeps a copy of the Mr. Men book on his desk. Meanwhile, Mr Muddle – aka 32-year-old Nick from Glasgow, who is sales manager for Scottoiler, a motorbike chain lube system manufacturer – has a picture of the other Mr. Muddle pinned to his office door. And Mr Good – 31-year-old creative director James, of Swansea – gets a lot of "That's good, Good", when presenting work.
Michael Slow, 65, of Leicester, does not live up to his name. "You name it, I've been it, but I've not been slow at it," he says. "I used to be a milkman. I had to be out at 4am. There wasn't a chance to be slow." But whatever their name, the Mr Men – including architect David Mean, 50, from London – have heard all the jokes before. However, project manager Gary Rush, 29, of Nottingham, says those who make jokes about being in a rush are, thankfully, "a rare and peculiar breed".