Thursday, April 20, 2006

What's in a Name?

I wrote the obligatory list of names before my Chief Bank-Balance Drain was born, just like everybody else. I liked Cicely for a girl and Jake for a boy. I did have others on the list, Dulcie, for example, named after one of my favourite old Valkyrie Great Aunts ( not the RE teacher who used to spend a large part of every lesson beating Darbster up with a board rubber), and Darius, not a terribly popular choice now thanks to a handsome daft Scottish wannabe, but an historical figure and also the name of a particularly handsome notorious toff from the '80s who got himself in the papers for insurance fraud ( I now have a cat named after him, jet black, gorgeous, much more affectionate and far less irritating).

The Nurse asked me what I was going to call him as she put him on my tummy seconds after he was born. There was no way I could have rationally come up with something right then. I was too busy worrying about how I was going to explain his colour away ( it soon became clear that he was that funny dark colour because of the trauma he'd experienced throughout the previous 18 hours and was not the result of me getting my dates hopelessly and evidently wrong - phew!)

Mum was helpful. She asked me what I thought he looked like - " Newt" was my first and to be honest, only reaction. She wouldn't allow me to call him that so he got ticketed with Jake for the first night of his life.

The following morning, up in the Special Baby Care Unit ( he was little and jittery) I had a bit more time to ponder and stare at him and so he got dubbed with Jack which seemed to fit him much better. Honest. Unapologetic. Straightforward. Easy to Spell. And my Grandad's nickname to boot, which was a happy coincidence. He also had my Grandad's middle name which was always going to be the case. Bit of a family tradition for a first born boy.

It was only some years later that I truly appreciated the force that the name your parents' choose can have upon you. It was right when I reached the heady heights of having my own office with a nameplate on the door.

My Mum and Dad had spent ages checking out our initials didn't spell anything rude ( neither my sister nor I have middle names). They were careful to choose names that couldn't easily be shortened. I was going to be "Sherry" after the Four Seasons song from which my name was subsequently derived, and thence from which my childhood nickname became my current cybername. They were confident they had labelled us free from ridicule or harm.

I've previously mentioned that my surname is Leaning. My initial is "C". I have never married.

Imagine yourself sitting at your desk, minding your own business whilst you work late in an almost empty office. You hear the sound of the vacuum cleaner growing louder as the cleaner works her way closer to your room and then with the punctuality of the 18.15 from Hull, she peeps her permed head round the door and advances her daily announcement,

" Oh! I don't have to do in here, do I!"

I endured it for 7 years before moving to an open plan office. My sister avoided similar derision ( her first name is spelt with a "K" but it is phonetically the same") by refusing to take a desk job.

On the few occasions that Jack has seriously misbehaved, I have foregone the traditional punishments of grounding, pocket-money stoppage or severe assault and battery, and instead flourished a carefully prepared Change Of Name Deed beneath his nose. The threat of forever after being known as Trumpy Pumfritt, begot of Miss Cleaning has been a satisfying deterrent.

8 Comments:

Blogger Praying for your Prodigal said...

O.k....it's time to quit thinking so hard...come out and play--

TAG! You're it!

Come to my blog for more details.

:) Diane

2:07 am  
Blogger andrea said...

Very entertaining. I love the name Jack. One day I'll have a Border Collie named Jack... (I used the girl's name 'Zoe' up on a dog because I knew I'd never have girls ... and was right!)

2:49 am  
Blogger Pete said...

at Tesco's Head Office they used to have a tannoy. A number of calls for Mr C Lyon were made..... oh how we laughed.

Could be worse something like Trixibelle Tufty My Parents are Celebrity Twats

7:54 am  
Blogger St Jude said...

I know of a friend who has named two of her boys Ptolomy, (I've probably spelt it wrong), and Galen. She assures us they are biblical names, but wasn't one a character from planet of the apes. Ah well at least they'll grow up tough.

9:39 am  
Blogger Kim Ayres said...

Just a quick message to thank you for taking the time to post on my blog.

As for names, I remember the cleaning lady when I was staying in student flats at Uni was called Jean. No one could ever resist saying "Hi Jean" without a grin on their faces.

2:16 pm  
Blogger Pete said...

i knew someone who on having a baby said that it would be called Hieronymus to be known as hero!!

i suggested sticking a sign on its back when going to school saying kick me

6:50 pm  
Blogger Calamity Tat said...

Oh I have a Dulcie, it's not a name you hear that often... just popped in from Creams blog and I wish I had a cleaning joke but I don't and if I did you probably won't want to hear it ...

2:21 pm  
Blogger Charlie said...

I see that St. Jude and Kim have been here. You attract good people.

Not to say that I am one because I am a flea-ridden cat. Who reads a lot.

Which makes me think about the change-of-name for Jack: threaten him with Uriah, or Heep, or horrors of them all, both.

Someone metioned on my blog a name someone gave their defenseless baby girl: Phallidia. No joke.

10:03 pm  

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