It is one of my favourite jokes and is entirely childish, even infantile. Someone is introduced to you as Richard and you respond, “Well, are you a Richard, or are you a Dick?” It is especially effective when the Richard in question is a youth who would blush uncomfortably at your remark, shuffle his feet and mumble “Richy actually.” Apparently there are those who don’t appreciate this kind of humour and I suppose if you have to listen to it day after day it must quickly wear thin.
I cannot tell you how many times people many years ago, on finding that I worked for the now defunct gent’s outfitters John Collier would break into song: “John Collier, John Collier, the window to watch".” That advertisement hadn’t run for years but it demonstrates the power of advertising that it stuck in people’s minds and, even now I am sure, people of a certain age will have sung and not just read that line.
I accepted it and either smiled benignly or responded sardonically with, “That’s the first time I’ve heard that – today.” It would never occur to me to complain since that was the firm I was glad to work for and the song went with the tag. Now, however, canteen staff at Flintshire council, North Wales, have responded to “immature comments” from “a few customers” about the traditional 19th century pudding Spotted Dick by renaming it “Spotted Richard”. I can’t help but think someone is bound to ask, “Is that a Richard, or is it a Dick?”