I was born on 18th March, 1969 (yes, I’ll be 50 in a few months time). My parents christened me Alasdair Iain McGill, and for 40 of the years I’ve been on this planet, people have known me as Alasdair.
Then social media happened. I joined Twitter in 2008, and after a few months of trying in vain to get people to type @alasdair, I gave up, and shortened my name to Ali. It was easier to spell, and it was what many of my cycling pals & teammates called me, so it made sense. It’s easier to shout “Ali” as you’re barrelling down the road at 30mph in a peloton of 80 riders. Two less syllables. Less energy expended, a marginal gain.
And so it stuck. I became Ali.
But the thing is, it never felt right. In hindsight, I should have persisted, remained Alasdair, and let people figure it out. But hindsight’s a wonderful thing. I was young (well, 39) and impressionable.
So for the last decade I’ve flinched every time I’ve been introduced as Ali. I’d catch myself looking around to see who they were talking about, then realise it was me. Ali. My alter-ego.
Over the past year it’s increasingly felt awkward being ‘Ali’. It’s not who I am. When I talk to myself, in my head on those long runs, I always use ‘Alasdair’. “Come on Alasdair”, I’ll say as I encourage myself up that hill. Or when I’m beating up on myself, it’s, “you dickhead Alasdair!”. Never “Ali”.
Therefore, with 2019 upon us, the year I’ll turn 50 – how did that happen? – it’s time to go back to being myself. The person I’ve always been inside. No more Ali, it’s time to be Alasdair again.
Hello, my name is Alasdair.