Lock up your hindbrain, it's Andy's Bucket-o-Memes
I'm Not Bill - or Eric, Vicki, Pearly...

"Hey, are you related to Bill?"

I get this all the time. Being a computer Gates, I guess it's inevitable and it might even be kinda churlish to resent it, but precisely because I do get it so often, I do resent it! So to put the record straight, here are some famous Gateses that are absolutely bloody nothing to do with me!

Having said that, there was this time when I was working a trade fair. Bored on my lunch break, I swaggered over to the Microsoft stand and, in the worst Texan accent you've ever heard, drawled, "Howdy. Is Uncle Bill here yet?". It took 'em fifteen minutes to realise, and then they called Security. Sigh...

Bill Gates

Bill Gates
CEO of the ubiquitous Microsoft Corporation, Bill is certainly the most famous Gates in the world. He's living proof that the geeks shall inherit the Earth - hope for us real-life Dilberts.

I guess if you look at what he has done, you have to admit that he does have a Vision; whether you agree with his "computer on every desktop and in every home" ideal of a techno-Utopia is up to you.

Bill was worth something like 40,000,000,000 the last time I checked - he's personally funding a global satellite network - making him the single wealthiest person in the world after the outrageously rich Sultan of Brunei.

I'm surprised that no-one has set him up as a Bond villain, to be honest. But then, he already controls the world.

Eric Gates

Eric Gates
I couldn't find a picture of Eric, so here's one of his team mascots instead.
Eric Gates is one of the less well-known of my non-clan. He was striker for Ipswich Town Football Club in the Eighties and has since occupied various positions of football-guruhood in other clubs including Sunderland United.

I learned about Eric while working in a reassuringly menial job. There were four Andys in a team of eight, so each one had a daft nickname. They decided to call me Eric. I don't know what karmic debt I had built up to deserve it; their only excuse was that I was crap at football and so was he. I guess they weren't Ipswich fans.

Vicki Gates

Vicki Gates
IFBB professional bodybuilder Vicki Gates is probably the most visually striking Gates I can think of; not even in one of my LRP Big Costumes can I claim to have more of a "what the hell?" doubletake effect than this bootfaced, hypertrophied unrelative of mine.

Vicki has been on the pro bodybuilding circuit for some time, scooping up placements in international competitions with a fair degree of regularity. While she has undeniable mass and definition along with admirable vascularity and muscle maturity, I suspect that the top titles evade her because of a certain lack of sculpturality - true champions' bodies are as much art as they are athleticism.

Gates McFadden

Gates McFadden
Alias Dr Beverly Crusher of the Enterprise, skull-faced Gates has two great crimes to answer for. First, she is the eternally unlikely Mrs Skullhead, flirting with Jean-Luc and occasionally taking command of a multi-zillion-credit starship despite having less command credentials than the Betazoid.

And second, she's the mother of Wesley.

I categorically deny any relationship!

Mythical & Literary Gates

And here's where it starts getting weird. Let's start with the Pearly Gates.

Okay, let's see if I can make this really clear. The Pearly Gates, aka the Gates of Heaven, are a Victorian-American invention, created as a sort of visual cue to the hard-of-imagining about how God would allow the righteous into Heaven and deny entry to the scum. They're pearly because pearls are both shiny (= valuable) and white (=pure). They're usually depicted with St. Peter standing there, checking names off against a list like some kind of celestial bouncer.

Amusingly many pictures of the Pearly Gates show them as a huge driveway-gate with a smaller gate set into one panel; presumably the big gates are to allow the Host free access when the Rapture comes and the little gate is for one-by-one admittance. That little gate is commonly called a Jew's gate."

Of course if Heaven has gates, then there really ought to be some Gates of Hell too. Now, these gates have an entirely different purpose. They're in place to keep something in. The Devil. Satan. Lucifer and his horde of rebellious angels who opposed God and were cast into Hell for their impudence. All very dramatic stuff; Milton (blind, mad genius) probably got it closest when he described Hell in Paradise Lost as a lake of fire, which burned their flesh, yet cast no comforting light or warming heat. Grim. The Gates were grim too:

Thrice threefold the gates; three folds were brass
Three iron, three of adamantine rock,
Impenetrable, impaled with circling fire
Yet unconsumed.

Paradise Lost, Book II

Then there are other Magickal Gates. I'm stretching it here, but lore is full of other gates. Stone circles, and other liminal places where at certain times and under certain conditions, gateways appear between here and... there.

You'll find these chaps all through human culture: they are in our religions, our folklore, even our cheesy 3am horror movies. Check with your psychologist for a detailed analysis of their deep meaning. Don't open any unless you're sure what's on the other side. And watch out for the tentacles.