I’m sure you’ve all seen the story: Famous celebrity couple on holiday, they find out that one of them (usually the woman) is pregnant and they decide to name their child after the place where the child was conceived.
Hence we end up with kids called Brooklyn, Cleveland and Lost Luggage Department. Others celebs may favour rhymes (Zowie Bowie), fruit (Apple) or be influenced by whatever narcotic they were on at the time (how else do you explain names like Moon Unit Zappa, Frank’s son?)
But, as with most things, this filters down the ranks and whilst it may be acceptable in the halls of Eaton, Harvard and The Skegness School For Upper Class Twits to be called Mercedes, Topaz and (heaven forbid) Cruz those of us who insist on living in White Track-suits (complete with gold chain and obligatory 4 month old curry stain) have yet to realise that the same does not apply when attending the local comprehensive.
Back in the late 1980s there was a plethora of Kylie’s entering school – it was the Teenage Mum’s Name Of Choice as Senior Minogue Sister rode the double-wave of Soap Opera and Chart success. More recently it will have been one of the Spice Girls, or the names of their kids – some (poor sods that they are) will probably be named after the Geldof daughters Peaches, Fifi Trixibelle and Heavenly Tigerlilly (admittedly the last one was down to Michael Hutchense – but seriously??)
Recently there was an article about a couple who wanted to call their child “4Real” because they couldn’t believe he was for real. When the judge (showing a rare moment of sanity for the legal profession) forbade them to do so they changed the child’s name to “Superman” (no, really)
And yet history has shown us repeatedly that names are vital.
Myth and legend are full of stories such as Rumplestiltskin – where power may be gained over a thing by knowing its name, or else stories where a demon can be summoned and controlled so long as one can name it. One of Britain’s biggest Sci-Fi exports concerns a time-traveller known only as The Doctor: who refuses to give his name to anyone because he knows that a name would tie him to a single time and space.
Although these are based in fiction there is a certain amount of truth in the real world – names matter, and the strength of your name can have a big impact on your success.
Take Stephen King: probably the highest grossing Horror writer in history, despite (in my opinion) not having written anything interesting in 15 years. If you look at his first name “Stephen” it’s quite a boring name, but backed up by the short, powerful KING it’s an immediate advertising point. If his name were Stephen Clydesdale would he still be as successful? We will never know – but the truth is that he may well have found it a lot harder to get published. Meanwhile a perfectly ordinary name can be dressed up with a superfluous middle initial – M Night Shaylayman for instance. Does anyone know what the M stands for? It probably doesn’t stand for anything – but it gives him that extra edge of mystery.
There are many various claims as to how names should be crafted for full effect – the amount of letters included having cosmic significance, the type of letters saying something about your personality. Personally I very much suspect that the people spouting this claptrap are more than slightly off the wheels in their trainers (or is it just the UK where kids slide around Sainsbury’s like the cast of Starlight Express?) - but I do believe that naming your kids is not something that should be entered into lightly.
Indeed one of the many reasons that I have kept my name off these pages is that my parents saw fit to damn me to a life of mediocrity by supplying me with a Dull Name With No Chance Of Redemption – not even adding a silent Q in the spelling would help with mine.
I keep thinking I should change it to something more exciting – but then I remember the chap who changed his name by deed poll to NAME WITHHELD Bank PLC Are A Bunch Of W***kers because he’s got so annoyed with their customer service – and I wonder what I could do that would be better than that.
Let’s face it – almost anything would be better than calling myself Superman
Or Heavenly Tigerlily…
Or Moon Unit…
Maybe I should call myself Kumquat?? Then again, maybe not...