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29 Oct 2014
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Inspirational Names

Who, or what, inspired your decision when naming your children?
What do they think about the result of your deliberations?

Your Responses

Empty Box
The night my wife and I met, we spent a good half hour guessing at names. Her surname is Box and her given names are Mary Tamara (she goes by Tamara). I was playing with this and in a semi-drunken state got as far as realising that her initials were the same as an old naval vessel. I had to be told that she was, and remains, an MT Box. She was four before her parents realised - and they too had to be told.
- James Lester

Authoratitive Names
Your ongoing interest in names prompts me to ask whether anyone else has noticed the way in which some names seem to guarantee certain authoritative positions to which their owners seem to have been born. The two which come to mind are Sir Curtis Keble sometime British Ambassador in Moscow and Sir Ambrose Dundas-Flux-Dundas, Governor of the Isle of Man in the 1950s. It would be difficult to imagine either of these two holding jobs as bank clerks or jobbing gardeners. Perhaps other listeners have even better examples.
In the matter of first names a friend of ours declined to call his son Matthew on the grounds that he would get the nickname Batty Matty but agreed to Simon, who is, of course never "simple"!
- Peter J Walter (note the ordinariness of the name!!

Zara
I have enjoyed your programme immensely. When my daughter was born we called her "Zara Elizabeth" (not because of royal connections, but because I liked the Hebrew meaning of Zara meaning "bright as the dawn"). Fortunately (or unfortunately, as the case may be) she never lived up to that promise, her forte being to rise at the crack of noon. When she turned 8, she decided to use her 2nd name and now calls herself "Lizzy". When her brother wants to annoy her (along with his usual repertoire), he uses her first name.
I have to say that I am everlastingly grateful that my own parents didn't name me 'Priscilla' as apparently it was a close call between that and the name I now posses. - Sandy Browning

Hit Parade
Listening to the discussions about unusual or amusing names on this mornings Home Truths, I was reminded of a game that a friend of mine plays who works in a local government office. The nature of his work is such that they come into contact with birth registrations and so have developed a "hit parade" of "unusual" first names. Currently top of the pops, you will be encouraged to hear, is "Motorola", I'm not sure of the gender of the unfortunate infant.

I did attempt to persuade my wife that we should name our own daughter "Sony mini-disc", quite fitting I thought as her birth last year marked an the end of my tendency to indulge myself with such desirable gadgets. We eventually though settled upon Tess.
- Christopher Easton, Rawtenstall, Lancs

I Don't Believe It
I once knew a girl who's surname was Lastick, initial L and yes her first was Lucy. Some people shouldn't have children.

Also I employed, while building a house extension, a lady architect called Livinia Gardin!
- Dave Daw, Essex

Dark Porter
I wanted to use Christian names of Gaelic derivation for my son and decided that the appellations Graham Urquhart Innes might do rather well. My wife would have none of it, knowing my fancy for a tipple of that famous dark porter originating in Dublin. He ended up as Graham Arthur.
- Bill Quirke, Derby

From E Mailer
When I got married 10 years ago, e-mail was hardly known, so I thought nothing of changing my surname to my husband's. I think I am probably now one of the only genuine e-mailers in the country, if not the world!
My maiden name was Hartley, and, yes, my father's initials really are J R - source of constant irritation to him every time he has to write a cheque or someone asks him his name.
Love the programme,
- Elizabeth Mailer, London

Going for the Byrne
When our son Ben was born, we were so short of names on which we could agree that we settled on just the one, Benjamin. It was particularly difficult because Jane had taught in primary schools and for pretty much every name we could come up with, she had a vision of some little horror who answered to that name. The effect was that four years later, when he was in nursery class, Ben seemed to feel the lack of a middle name deeply. I think he got the idea that the teachers thought he simply couldn't remember it. Anyway, he felt distinctly short-changed.

So, when he was to be a pageboy at the wedding of an actress friend, Kathryn Byrne, he said, 'Kathryn's going to be Mrs Hodgkins, isn't she? Do you think she'd let me have the Byrne?' Before we knew it, we were getting letters home from school addressed to The Parents of Benjamin Byrne Mathews. And he remains that now he's 13. Couldn't we give all our kids this opportunity for self-expression?
- David & Jane Mathews, Bath

Birthplace blues
'Sixpence' and 'Wireless' would date it. Thus we mused on names for our first born in Zambia in the mid 1970's. We wanted to give the baby a taste of its birthplace and were looking around the local population for ideas. 'Spider' and 'Greenfly' might also seem a trifle bizarre in later life, especially in the same house - we intended to do the double whilst on contract in Zambia. Our next door neighbour's mum must have had a presentiment of his future career - 'Fanwell' worked in the ventilation department of the mine. No job-casting in the name we decided.

We moved upmarket. What did Zambian chiefs call their offspring ? It was not encouraging. A chief in Western Province, using a car manual for inspiration, named all nine children after parts of a vehicle. 'Big end'' might seem too appropriate given the large posteriors that our children might well inherit. Crankshaft' ? 'Bumper' ? 'Clutch' ? Not really.

We lifted our research up one more notch. Power naming? Government ministers must surely provide the answer? Kenneth Kaunda was president, but there were already too many Kens in the family. Elastic Foster would not have the same snappy feel about it as 'Elastic Banda', that well known Minister of the Interior.

Whenever our daughter feels a split personality coming on, she blames the telegram announcing her arrival to her grandparents which read "Elean or Mary arrived etc." The post office official must have caught the vibes of soul searching and indecision of the past seven months. We re-attached her name. Plain Eleanor and plain Tom to follow. Boring isn't it, when you think what might have been.
- Catherine Foster

The Long and the Short of It
Without doubt, choosing the name was the worst part of pregnancy! I spent the first half of the pregnancy making lists of what Orson's new name would have to conform to. (Orson was the in utero name. After Orson Wells. Something to do with how much a pregnant woman eats. Long story...) First, the name must not be too long. (I hate nicknames!) Second, it must sound the same in English and German so that the relatives on both sides could refer to the child in the same way. Not too long! No funny initials like BM for Bowel Movement, or something equally awful. Short!!! Nothing weird. Definitely short. Ordinary without being boring but not too popular, so he could still be unique. Oh, and something that couldn't be shortened! I really do hate nicknames.

The second half of the pregnancy I spent ruling out most ideas I or anyone else came up with. Girls' names were a bit easier, but we were quite stuck for the boys' names. Not that it was going to be a boy, of course, but one ought to be prepared. One Sunday morning my husband suggested "Alexander". Nice name. But is it short? No it isn't. I talked him out of it. Later the same day, my mother rang and suggested "Alexander". Been there, mother! It's still too long and has already been ditched, thank you. Next. Some months later, the pregnancy and time of deliberation came to an end. Of course it was a boy. Of course I'd not come up with anything better. So he had to be named Alexander. After all it is a nice name and fairly unique.Or so I thought until the British mother-in-law rang up to happily announce that Alexander was in the top 10 of the most popular names in Britain at the moment.

When he complains about how long his name is, I send him to complain to his father or his maternal grandmother. Not my fault. When he brings home school papers where he'd written Alex, I correct him. If I hear anyone call him Alex, I correct them. If I wanted him to be called Alex, that's what I'd have put on his birth certificate. I didn't. I put Alexander, all nine letters of it. And that's what he's to be called, if I have anything to do with it. That was the first name. My family doesn't do middle names. (A bit of luck, there.) The surname could have been a problem, as I've kept my maiden name. Aquaintances in a similar position decided that boys would get his and girls would get her surname. Thus they have twins with different surnames. Not in our case. Before the wedding we decided that all children would get daddy's name and mummy's religion. Easy!
- Sylvia Lanz, Chelmsford, Essex

Going Underground
My wife and I debated long about what we should call our eldest daughter. We liked the sound of Victoria but with our surname decided that this could lead to her being called Picadilly, Circle or even Northern Line at school. We eventually decided on Jennifer, saving the poor child much embarrassment later in life - thoughtful parents eh?
- Timothy Line

Grandad's Mistake
My grandfather was a farmer in the Yorkshire dales and when my mother was born, he had to travel a long distance to register the birth. He was under strict instructions from my grandmother to register the name Leanora. But, of course, by the time he got to the registrars, he had forgotten. The best he could do was the name Lena. You can imagine the trouble he was in when he got home! My mother always hated the name and insisted on being called Lea.
- Lesley Fennell, Woodbridge, Suffolk

Zambian Influence
'Sixpence' and 'Wireless' would date it. Thus we mused on names for our first born in Zambia in the mid 1970's. We wanted to give the baby a taste of its birthplace and were looking around the local population for ideas. 'Spider' and 'Greenfly' might also seem a trifle bizarre in later life, especially in the same house - we intended to do the double whilst on contract in Zambia. Our next door neighbour's mum must have had a presentiment of his future career - 'Fanwell' worked in the ventilation department of the mine. No job-casting in the name we decided.

We moved upmarket. What did Zambian chiefs call their offspring ? It was not encouraging. A chief in Western Province, using a car manual for inspiration, named all nine children after parts of a vehicle. 'Big end'' might seem too appropriate given the large posteriors that our children might well inherit. Crankshaft' ? 'Bumper' ? 'Clutch' ? Not really. We lifted our research up one more notch. Power naming ? Government ministers must surely provide the answer ? Kenneth Kaunda was president, but there were already too many Kens in the family. Elastic Foster would not have the same snappy feel about it as 'Elastic Banda', that well known Minister of the Interior.

Whenever our daughter feels a split personality coming on, she blames the telegram announcing her arrival to her grandparents which read "Elean or Mary arrived etc." The post office official must have caught the vibes of soul searching and indecision of the past seven months. We re-attached her name. Plain Eleanor and plain Tom to follow. Boring isn't it, when you think what might have been.
- Catherine Foster, Welwyn, Herts.
PS On a different note, you may be interested to know that I am a direct descendant of John Woodcock Graves, author of 'D'you ken John Peel ?'.


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