Passing my local dog groomers, Doggie Style, got me thinking about names (after my usual reactions; a titter, for obvious immature reasons, and a sigh, because I don’t have a doggie). It’s generally the first thing that people find out about you, so it can be a bit of an albatross around your neck if you’ve got a crap one.
Catherine (my in-trouble name) is common as muck. There were always at least two other Catherines in my class at school, including my bestest buddy, who had a Jedi-like ability to predict when the cross-eyed Sister Pious (I kid you not…) was about to call on ‘us’ for an answer. Given she’d be looking at both of us simultaneously (one eye each), it was impossible to tell who she was actually talking to – Ca liked to assume it was me and duck at the appropriate moment.
It could be a lot worse though. Rumour has it that Arabella was considered around the time of my birth. Now some people may be able to carry off Arabella – as a ginger I certainly could not. What parents really need to consider when choosing their offspring’s identification is; what the child is likely to look like, where they live and, please don’t forget, what their surname is. This is not really a decision that should be made under the influence of hormones...
Pocahontas is a lovely name for a Native American beauty, but for a snotty-nosed pale-face from Ireland? When you hear ‘Po-kaa-haaan-taaaas, come hee-ore’ in the finest Cork accent you can only think, ‘Disney has a lot to answer for’. And then there’s Vladimir, the name my sister’s old neighbours chose to give their baby boy. Grand if you live in wintery Russia, not quite so much if you live in County Meath and your surname is Murphy.
It’s a testament to my old colleague Ewan Kerr’s good humour that he didn’t hold it against his parents for not quite thinking the first name-surname combo through (or did they? he he he). We do like to see a sense of humour with these things. It’s very dull when people get too pernickety about their name, like the girl at my school who spent her life whining ‘it’s not Eee-del, it’s Ahhh-dele’ - people just called her Edel on purpose to wind her up. But we all know it can be very embarrassing to get people’s names wrong. Luckily our lovely neighbour Graham finds it very amusing that we called him Gerry for an entire year.
Finally, there are the excellent names. These are a credit to the parents who bestowed them; Fyfe Dangerfield, lead singer of the Guillemots (yes – that is his real actual name), Edgar Allan, first-born of my long-lost ginger brother, and, not forgetting the hairy children, Trevor the horse. Simple. Brilliant.