Thursday, 7 April 2011

What's In a Name?

I heard a mother yelling at her daughter who was running ahead getting dangerously near the kerbside of a busy A41 this morning.  "Get here Sian" she yelled.
Apart from the "Get" as opposed to come here, it suddenly struck me how many little girls, less so with boys, I think, are given the 'name of the moment', rather than one chosen for other reasons.
Since names appear to have a fashion rating all their own, it will surely make it easier to discover the age of a child by the popularity of their given name in a particular year than by simply asking.
In my many years in public service much documentation passed through my hands, containing personal data about many thousands of people and the odd names donated by thoughtless or uncaring parents often seemed to me a way of marking their children for life.
I have lost count of the Glorias, Dawns, Graces and similar optimistic names given to unlikely small infants, along with the names (titles) given to children of other ethnic origins : Blossom, Beauty and Princess, being but a few.
My own parents (the excuse being that they were Welsh), did me no favour when choosing my name.
I have spent and still do spend, half my life explaining that Ray is not abbreviated, it is all there is.  Every hospital, government dept, local authority to name but a few, either list me as Mr Ray Barnes or query my name every time I fill in a form.
For years going to the polling booth to vote with my husband was a nightmare and I even considered changing my name by deed poll at one stage.
When exasperated to the point of spontaneous combustion, I asked my mother why, on earth, she had chosen such a name for her first-born, the reply was a slightly puzzled "we were so delighted to have a daughter we thought 'ray of sunshine' "!!
I replied, somewhat testily that one of my less pleasant nicknames at school had been "Death-Ray", which caused much amusement to my parents - not, to me.
Perhaps, since some forms of Christianity do not believe in Baptism for children, but only for those old enough to choose, something similar might be organised for naming children.  Perhaps a temporary name given until at a certain age the child could choose its own name.  Or how about a number?
Seriously, if you give a child a name which aims too high, or which later becomes risible you are doing them a serious injustice.


  1. A popular name in the USA during the 1940s was Ronald. My mother said the only reason she named me Ronald was simply because she liked it over her second choice... Michael.

    I like your number idea :-)

  2. Hi Ron
    Nothing wrong with Ronald, or Michael either for that matter. At least they are real names, not made up on the spur of the moment ones, or worse. pop-star names.
    I suppose if the number idea took off it cause just a little confusion. Maybe we would need to add a letter, 1(a), 1 (b)........No perhaps not. Oh well, I'll have to settle for my 'given' name after all!

  3. What would you have liked to be called? I never liked Anita; wanted to be Angela!!
    Ray of Sunshine. How sweet!
    Ray, Thank you for the blog roll add. I have changed my URL to match the title. The new URL is Would it be possible to add the new URL to your blogroll please, as the old URL will no longer work.
    Thanks much,