Matt Gemmell

TOLL is available now!

An action-thriller novel — book 2 in the KESTREL series.

★★★★★ — Amazon


general & personal 2 min read

When I was born I was named Matthew Lindsay Gemmell. After my parents divorced when I was around 11, my mother changed my (and my brother’s) surname to her maiden name, Ridley, for reasons which are probably obvious enough and don’t have much bearing on this story.

I was Matt Ridley throughout high school, and the name remained through inertia. Not long after, I was hired by GoLive Systems to do some support and advocacy work for CyberStudio, their Mac-only visual web authoring software. GoLive was acquired by Adobe, CyberStudio became Adobe GoLive, and I was with Adobe for a while after that. Any references you find online to Matt Ridley in connection with Adobe GoLive (particularly GoLive Actions, the JavaScript routines you can visually add to pages) are talking about me. (References to the author Matt Ridley are of course not about me, though he seems a nice enough bloke; we were in touch a bit since I kept getting email meant for him.)

Trivia: in a trend started by John Nack (then LiveMotion product manager, currently Photoshop product manager), many of us had two email addresses; our regular “mridley” type address, and a vanity one. John’s was “tinyElvis”, and mine was “hologram”. I was a die-hard Voyager fan at the time, and it was a reference to the EMH. True story.

In any case, after a time I decided I wanted to go back and get my degree before I got any older, and I returned to Glasgow. Before beginning first year all over again (deliberately, so I’d have the full four-year degree experience), I finally changed my surname back to Gemmell, my birth name. I took the opportunity to officially shorten my first name to Matt, and to get rid of the middle name I never liked very much. Of course, various institutions still have some mix of Matt Gemmell, Matthew Gemmell, Matt Lindsay Gemmell and Matthew Lindsay Gemmell, but that’s just how things are with bureaucracy.

Lauren and I were recently discussing the topic of children’s names, as couples do (obligatory note: none are on the way, nor are there any near-term plans in that regard), and after many a chat with the inimitable Neil, I thought it would be rather excellent to give my son the middle name of Legend (his first name, of course, would be Matthew, after myself, my father, and so on). Lauren quite wisely vetoed this, as I’m sure almost any female in the world would. And, better late than never, an idea occurred to me.

The law in Scotland is such that anyone can change their name at any time, simply by deciding to do so and informing relevant institutions which hold your details (banks, amongst many others). After you’ve been known by the name for 2 years, you can have an updated birth certificate issued, though this is entirely optional and not at all necessary for the legality of the change. The change is immediate and legal as soon as the decision is made, and there is no limit to the number of times this can be done.

Accordingly, by informing my bank today and other institutions soon, I am henceforth for all legal and other purposes, Matt Legend Gemmell. Update your Address Book entries and Christmas card lists appropriately.

Inevitably, this change has only made me realise that deep down, my name was always Legend.