Eine Kleine Nichtmusik

Witty and pertinent observations on matters of great significance OR Incoherent jottings on total irrelevancies OR Something else altogether OR All of the above

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

That Which We Call A Number 16 Bus Shelter, By Any Other Name Would Smell As Sweet

A few observations on this story which you probably saw in the news last week:

1) I have every sympathy with the kid. Having an unusual name, especially one which has clearly been inflicted on you as pure parental whim rather than period fashion (in which I include the Kylies, Madonnas, etc.) or family tradition.

2) As the comments on the BBC site make clear, some kids thrive on the attention generated by an odd name, while some hate it. My name is boring and conventional, but at primary school I still retained my parents' Dorset accent (this in North Manchester) so was forever being picked on, bundled off to a corner of the playground and surrounded by kids demanding that I say something. What else could I do but become a comedian? (Not professionally, but as the class comic through the rest of my schooldays.) If my unwanted attention had stemmed from my name I expect the result would have been similar.

3) Even when parents aren't trying to be wacky in their choice of names it's easy to forget something. One of my father's brothers was named Alfred Stanley Saunders, which generated unfortunate initials. A good friend of mine, Chris Eyre, was known as "ozone" at school (C Eyre = sea air).

4) She is very definitely not alone, as a casual perusal of Remarkable Names Of Real People demonstrates. Funnily enough the Rev. Canaan Banana (an entry in the book) came up in a family conversation recently on the topic of the Zimbabwean elections.

5) Frank Zappa's children have famously wacky names: Moon Unit, Dweezil, Ahmet and Diva. However, one thing I didn't know until researching this post is that

Dweezil's registered birth name was Ian Donald Calvin Euclid Zappa, although this occurred only because the hospital at which he was born refused to register him under the name Dweezil. The name was a nickname coined by Frank for an oddly-curled pinky-toe of Gail's. He was always called "Dweezil" by his family and was unaware that this was not the name on his birth certificate. Upon this discovery at the age of five, he insisted on having his nickname become his legal name. Gail and Frank hired an attorney and soon the name Dweezil was official. (from Wikipedia entry for Dweezil Zappa)

6) Let's give Frank Zappa the last word:

People make a lot of fuss about my kids having such supposedly 'strange names', but the fact is that no matter what first names I might have given them, it is the last name that is going to get them in trouble.