I’ve always been fascinated by names. I don’t really know why, though I suspect it comes from a combination of having an distinctly Celtic surname that most people cannot spell (including some members of my own family) and being one of those strange people who doesn’t use the first of their given forenames.
When my son was born Caro and I went to great lengths to try and find a name for him which not only suited him, but which was not going to leave him with an embarrassing combination of initials. Once you had discounted those names, the names that neither of us liked and the Gaelic ones that we told my in-laws we were going to give him, there were not too many left to choose from.
My interest first manifested itself at secondary school, when I nicknamed John Lawson ‘Percy’ because he wouldn’t reveal what his middle name was, even though everyone knew it began with ‘P’. (It was Patrick. Why you wouldn’t admit to that name, I do not know). But there was no-one at our school with a really odd name. There was a Pia, but at the time Pia Zadora was rarely out of the press, like a latter-day Katie Price, so it didn’t really register with me that this was an uncommon name.
When I grew older, I started to see the humour in names more. There was a Richard Head at my university (think about it…). I met a girl called Benjamina, a name which means ‘you were expecting a boy and hadn’t thought of any girls’ names’. One of my first clients had named her two eldest children William and Wilhelmina. Another had a mother who was obviously very much a traditionalist, as she had taken her husband’s surname upon marriage, even though it meant that she was now Joyce Joyce. And so it went on.
Eventually, the internet arrived and I was able to put all of this to some use. I started my first blog, which was called You Called Your Kid WHAT? and people, surprisingly, liked it. It provoked some interesting results. I somehow managed to get the daughter of a friend’s boss onto there. The mother of one of the children named actually found it and had the good grace to laugh about it. I even managed to sneak the children of one or two people I knew onto there.
Eventually, though, my well of invective ran dry and I stopped updating it. Then, a month or so ago, I had to go to it to look something up and I discovered two remarkable things. One was that it had over 10,000 hits. The other is that if you go to Google, you only need to type ‘you called your’ and it is the top entry.
I am, therefore, going to try and give it another go. It will be a little more ad hoc than The Memory Blog is, but who knows what might happen.