Much has been made of Jamie’n’Jools Oliver’s choice of name for their new baby son (Buddy Bear) who joins Poppy Honey, Daisy Boo and Petal Blossom. It’s nice that all the little Oliver children have got chummy names that will help them get the kind of leg-up in life that having fantastically rich and famous parents couldn’t. Well, jolly good luck to ‘em all, I say.
With all the Fifi-Trixibelles, Apples, Harlows, Peaches and Romeos around, I can’t help feeling I was rather hasty in giving my own children what now seem positively pedestrian names; I can think of countless unique and attention-grabbing monikers that might have suited my children perfectly. In fact I’m convinced that parents should be able to bestow any number of additional names upon their children, reflecting their children’s unique qualities and personality traits as they emerge. And, as if that wasn’t enough, the children would HATE it which is almost enough recommendation in inself.
For example, once (in Ikea of all places) my toddling infant daughter retired to a little play-house for a quiet nappy-fill and, upon scooping her out once the faecal deed was done, I announced “Come along, Fragrance,” at which point a man asked “Is that really her name?”. I think I stared at him, dumbstruck, for a while before telling him that yes, it was. But it wasn’t. But it should have been.
During the course of the ‘competitive parenting’ I encountered during those Playgroup/Pre-School years I spent time in the company of at least 5 mothers who would have wasted no time adding the names Gifted and Talented to the birth certificates of their quite ordinary children; the same parents would no doubt have returned to the Registery Office to add Advanced and Very Bright once their darlings reached Middle School, maybe adding Oxbridge and Harvard to the mix, just for good measure.
I’m quite sure that if this ‘top-up’ system had been available to ambitious parents 25 years ago the newspapers would be discussing ‘Talented’ Ed Miliband’s victory over ‘Gifted’ David Miliband in the Labour Leadership contest; Tony Blair would himself have frogmarched his mum and dad off to add ‘Charismatic’ and the Prescotts may have felt their son was truly ‘Principled’ – until he accepted a peerage, of course. Imagine dear little Victoria Beckham jumping up and down on her stick-thin legs demanding that her mum register her as Fashion-Icon … imagine the tears if Mum decided to add Mimi instead! Would Cherie ever have convinced her parents to include Gorgeous, Pouting alongside Queen’s Counsel? We shall never know, although I do know that my own mum might have been driven by my teenage behaviour to register me as A Little Minx, whereas my doting grandmother merely thought I was A Born Nazimova.
Of course, no such top-up option exists and I can’t just pay extra money to add a few more well-chosen names to my children’s birth certificates. Ah well, never mind.
In case you’re interested, I’d love to add either Patience or Serena to my daughter’s names because she is conspicuously neither patient nor serene. I’d happily pay fee after fee at the Registery Office, adding Harpy,Ingrate, Impudence and Expenditure as the mood took me. I already think of my son as Rip (as in Van Winkle), Ravenous, Spendthrift and (from years ago) Fireman Sam. So by now my daughter could be Patience Ingrate Harpy Borstal Shouty-McClouty Fragrancereal name Smudd and my son could be Rip Flatulence Ravenous Spendthrift Borstal Fireman Sam real name Smudd.
It’s a shame it’ll never catch on.