What’s in a Name?

Giving someone a name is a weighty responsibility. Parents-to-be could do worse than wile away the months of waiting by pondering which names will give their new arrival the best start in life. They should take care. It may be tempting to follow trends or get carried away with the idea of using the name of your favourite footballer, actor or rap artist; the allure of an invented name may be strong, or perhaps the use of an iconic place, weather condition or season. Research however suggests that names carry a heavy influence in the lottery of life’s successes and failures. Want your child to attend a prestigious university? Name your son James or Simon, your daughter, Eleanor.

A fiction writer building up a character can convey a great deal in the selection of their name. Gender, age, social class and nationality can all be carried in this one word. Hilda, Ivy, Albert or Fred? You know which generation they are from. Gillian, Susan, Peter or Colin? You know these too, although of course some names ‘come back’ into fashion [‘Alfie’ and ‘Stanley’ are two of these].

Teachers who become parents have a more difficult task in naming their offspring. The pool of possibilities will be shallower, since most names will carry connotations. The classrooms of my past are littered with negative memories of ‘Jasons’, ‘Waynes’, ‘Sharons’ and ‘Traceys’. For some mysterious reason, as soon as I went public with my firstborn’s name, proud of having selected something neither outlandish nor too ubiquitous, there was an explosion of the name-the hospital nursery bursting at the seams with them so that my son was destined always to share his name with thousands across his peer group.

Teachers are also used to bearing witness to parents’ inabilities in the field of spelling. Many children begin school [and life] saddled with an eccentric and misspelt name. Parents-bear in mind that your child’s teacher will have to begin the school year by compiling numerous class lists for a wide variety of purposes. If you furnish your little one with a long, hyphenated and complicated moniker this is going to be both time consuming and aggravating for their teacher, especially coupled with double-barrelled surnames, which consistently fail to fit into any sort of grid.

I loved the recent story of the research ship that was the subject of an on line competition to find a name. One wag’s suggestion of ‘Boaty McBoatface’, though not meant to be taken seriously became a clear favourite and attracted more than 18,000 votes, an endorsement that serves to show the British sense of humour is alive and kicking, even if the instigators of the competition are intending to overrule the choice.

 

Hello? OK-can we Take a Break now?

                In my semi-conscious, post celebratory state I felt I must be hallucinating. Each time I turned on a screen to attempt to catch up on current affairs, the same, confusing, surreal images and words flooded the waves, hour in, hour out in a relentless deluge. Babies. Crowds. Photographers. The news was…no news. She was in labour. She was still in labour. She went into labour on Monday morning. There was still no news. Would it be a girl? Would it be something else?

                After what seemed like days [no doubt the Duchess herself felt it to be so], the announcement of the baby’s arrival was made, taking up hours more of the news broadcasts. Then there was more speculation-when would she be leaving the hospital? The massed ranks of reporters and photographers were in a frenzy of feverish speculation and excitement. Clearly nothing else had occurred in the world since Kate went in to pop out a sprog. I presume the loyalist, ‘Hello’ reading nation took a day off, stayed indoors, drew the curtains and glued themselves to their screen while they waited, breath baited for the thrilling moment when the Cambridges would emerge with their offspring.

                At long last, and I’m guessing after having been groomed, styled, primped, made up and dressed by a post-partum designer, the Duchess and husband appeared with their wrapped bundle of baby-a tiny, screwed up face in a swathe of blankets. There were a few, bland remarks about parenthood-then they were off in their swanky Range Rover [or something], driven by someone.

                The next round of intense build-up concerned the name [much exploited by the turf accountants of this world]. Charles was favourite-then James-then…

                Then all was quiet, except, perhaps in the Cambridge household.

                I suppose the Royals must generate an amount of tourist income. Other than that there seems little purpose, especially for the periphery-the ‘hangers on’; the likes of Charles and Camilla, Andrew [who, under his designation of ‘trade ambassador’ appears to do little except to play in a middle Eastern playboys’ playground involving some unsavoury entertainment with young girls]. In the meantime, we, the proletariat fund it all through tax. If this sounds mean spirited, I make no excuse-I feel mean about it.

                I am sure the Queen herself feels she has served the nation, and in her own way she has. And yes, a lot of people feel affection for her and her batty, eccentric husband. Perhaps it is all part of their appeal. But their upkeep is all monstrously expensive. I wonder if the return justifies the expense? Answers on a postcard please…or in the comments?