Thursday, 15 December 2016

What's in a name?

I had a flashback to some 25 years ago when I worked in Guiseley, a small town just south of Otley (famous for Thomas Chippendale) in the Leeds Metropolitan Borough. It is famed for being the origin and headquarters of the world-famous Harry Ramsden's fish and chips, at one time "the world's biggest fish and chip shop" and connected to the parents of Harry "Sooty, Sweep and Sue" Corbett (as well as Silver Cross Prams, Shires Bathrooms, Greenwood's Menswear, Compton Lighting and Wendy Wools).

On one occasion I was in the then recently built, and at the time, flagship Morrison's Supermarket, a flagship to the extent that Sir Ken Morrison regularly turned up to service behind the deli counter. On that day, I was in the cash-out queue behind a young mother with her twin children in a double buggy (yes, it was a fine, locally-made, Silver Cross double-buggy!). Now bearing in mind this was before the digital revolution that now sees most young mothers blindly shoving their offspring in a pram while they have their heads stuck in their mobile phones, in those days, mothers used to actually interact with their children.

The boy was being rather 'boyish', doing a fabulous imitation of an octopus with the point-of-sale chocolate and sweet display, something his sister was emulating perhaps not as efficiently out of the other side of the perambulator. Without warning, the young mother screamed out "Kah-lee (Kylie) and Jeh-sun (Jason). If youse don't bleedin' stop it, yuose will get no sweets at all tonight. D'ya hear?" The entire supermarket heard.

The mother had clearly named her kids after the two leading characters of the then very popular Australian soap opera, 'Neighbours', namely Kylie Minogue and Jason Donovan. What I was wondering was how this nomenclature has affected said children over the years now that they will be in their late 20's.

Thanks to the digital revolution and faux celebrity culture, young parents are often ensuring they are lumbering their children with such ball and chain names that will see their kids off to the deed poll office the moment they reach 18. What is happening is that these youngsters are giving their children names they actually can't pronounce themselves. There are now hordes of Bethanies who turn up at Brownies aged 7 suddenly realising their name is Bethany and not Beffaneee. Mahr-ins are discovering a previously unpronounced "t" in the middle of their name. And heaven help anyone called after the Northamptonshire town of "Keh-er-in" (Kettering).

There is also a lot to be said for the Jewish tradition of not naming a baby after a living relative. I remember a very close friend in school whose name, shall we say for simplicity, was John Jones. His dad was also John Jones, as was his grand-father. And they all shared the same house. Now as John (like myself) advanced though our early teens and John Jones (my friend and not his dad or grand-dad), as a quite good-looking lad, started to see an increase in the amount of "personal" post to his house from girlfriends and 'secret' admirers, St Valentine's cards, Christmas and and suchlike. Not only were these getting opened (with three John Jones in one house it was bound to happen) by mistake by his father and grand-father, but he was also opening John Jones letters not destined for him John Jones the complete Junior. This had the effect of causing untold grief and argument in said Jones household!

But I do believe some people seem to have a suicide pact with children's names. The Americans seem to compete with British celebrities to call their children after the first things that crosses their warped minds - a surname, a lift manufacturer, frozen food manufacturer, piece of DIY equipment or a starsign or tarot card. These are some of the more popular ridiculous ones for children from 2016 that really should see parents being sectioned:

• Adler
• Attyson
• Bastian
• Blayde
• Chesney
• Draven
• Diesel
• Izander
• Jaydien
• Kierson
• Ryker
• Sincere
• Sketch
• Tulsa
• Tyce
• Zaiden
• Zebulon

• Annyston
• Brook'Lynn
• Brylee
• Copelia
• Cortlyn
• Fallyn
• Harvest
• Jerrika
• Joplyn
• Julissa
• Luxx
• Mahayla
• Midnight
• Sharpay
• Tayzia
• Tybee
• Xylethia
• Yankee

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