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The Diary.

Byline: Denis Kilcommons ,

`a source of pride to everyone called Smith'

WHO was the first real life character to star in a Walt Disney animated film?

No, Peter Pan was fictional. So was Cinderella. And Robin Hood remains a legend.

Give up?

The answer, according to last week's pub quiz, is Pocahontas.

She was the Indian princess who saved the life of English colonist John Smith in 1607.

When her father had Smith held down and prepared to beat his brains out with a club, she flung herself across his body and he was spared.

The 1995 Disney film portrayed her as a beautiful young woman in a rather fetching buckskin mini dress with one shoulder strap.

Actually, she was 12-years-old at the time and went around naked. Smith was 28 and they were friends, and definitely not lovers.

"That bloke Smith got about a lot," said Charlie. "One minute he's captured by Indians and the next he's sinking The Titanic."

Well, not personally. An iceberg did that. But he was the captain of the ship at the time.

"He's had a really varied career," said Alan.

"He wrote a load of books as Wilbur," said Bill.

"He was in the Wild West as Smith and Jones," said Maria.

"And Citizen Smith of the Tooting Popular Front," said Charlie.

I immediately joined him in a clenched fist egalitarian salute. Me and Charlie are like that. Teatime revolutionaries.

This train of daft thought seemed to be without end as more Smiths of note were thrown into the mix.

Cyril Smith and Iain Duncan Smith made very strange bedfellows, while brewers John Smith and Samuel Smith were more likely to have shared sleeping arrangements at some time in their lives being members of the same family. Joseph Smith, founder of the Mormons and practitioner of polygamy, on the other hand, shared his bed with at least 33 wives, although not all at the same time.

"The Smiths," added Alan, who has peculiar musical tastes; "Patti Smith," said Maria (rock singer and poet - Patti Smith, that is, not Maria); "W H Smith," said Bill; "Alan Smith," I offered, meaning the Manchester United footballer. Well, I would, wouldn't I?

There are actors Will Smith and Maggie Smith and show jumper Harvey Smith (and two fingers to you, too, sir) and Walker Smith. Who? Not many people know this, but Walker Smith was the original name of boxer Sugar Ray Robinson.

As surnames go, Smith is one of the most popular and is probably derived from some long distant ancestor who was a smith as well as a Smith.

It must be comforting and a source of pride to everyone called Smith that they can wallow in the achievements of their wider tribal members.

Unlike a Kilcommons.

Or even a Pocahontas.
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Huddersfield Daily Examiner (Huddersfield, England)
Date:Aug 29, 2005
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