Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Column, December 27, 2005

IT is time we bit the bullet and accepted that the right to name children needs to be taken off some people.
Not everyone, just a minority. The minority for whom inspiration is mere flick of a TV remote control away.
They hit the first soap they find and then the cast list is their oyster.
This can only explain the abomination revealed in the latest statistics for baby names revealed by the Office of National Statistics for England and Wales.
The ONS results showed that the number of people choosing to inflict the name Aleesha on their children had risen by 298 per cent.
What could possibly be the reason for deciding that your child should have a name like a dyslexic take on Alicia?
Step forward ‘Eastenders’, where, reportedly, this is the name of a baby born to a character rejoicing in the title of ‘Demi’. Don’t ask me what part these characters play in the circle of hell that is this particular soap, as even a minute spent watching that dross is a minute of your life you’ll never get back.
I say that it is a minority of people who choose such utterly appalling name for their children because the ONS figures reveal that the top 10 names are far more sensible options.
Boys, in general, get good solid names like Jack, Joshua, Thomas, James, Oliver, Daniel, Samuel, William, Harry and Joseph.
The girls’ top ten is Jessica, Emily, Sophie, Olivia, Chloe, Ellie, Grace, Lucy, Charlotte and Katie.
Alright, there’s a bit of movement for fashion in there. David used to top the chart regularly, but now, inexplicably, has fallen from favour. A gross injustice.
In Wales there is not as much variation at the top as you might think, with the Biblical, but not especially Welsh-sounding Joshua topping the boys’ chart. However, Dylan and Rhys both make the top 10.
The girls’ chart, however, was topped by Megan, and Ffion made an appearance there at number 5.
But they’re all good names, spelt conventionally and which do not seem to owe their popularity to the fact they’ve been applied to some Z-list celebrity who’s famous for five minutes before being discovered snorting cocaine in the company of a gaggle of call-girls.
In fact, that’s a good guide for choosing your child’s name. Do not pick a name that you are likely to see splashed in 160-point bold across the front page of the News of the World. You won’t go far wrong.
But while the top 10 for girls and boys are fine names, it is in the nether regions of the ONS chart that you find the eccentricities.
Keira, as in Knightley, comes in an number 38. Scarlett, as in Johansson, makes an appearance as does Sienna, as in Miller.
As well as inspiring Aleesha, Eastenders is, apparently, the reason that Alfie, as in Moon, has suddenly gained in popularity, climbing to number 21.
You have to wonder whether the vicar at the font is tempted to turn down some of these bizarre choices. “What, you want to name your precious child after a cockney wide-boy on a TV soap played by Shane Richie? Get out an don’t darken my door again until you’ve picked something from the Old Testament.”
Before you accuse me of snobbery though as you hide your beloved Chardonnay’s eyes from this cruel column, this is not a class thing. For while Aleesha may certainly have been the choice of those with a lot to TV-watching time on their hands, you know the sort, more likely than most to appear on Trisha, the upper classes are just as capable of inflicting dreadful names on their offspring.
A swift perusal of the Daily Telegraph’s births marriages and deaths columns shows the lengths to which they will go in pursuit of originality. One poor mite this week was lumbered with the name Hanover, destined to spend the rest of her life saying no, not Hannah, Hanover, yes like the place in Germany, yes it is unusual isn’t it?
The sole consolation for the child is that at least she has safety in numbers, with siblings rejoicing in names such as Hadrian, Brittany, Blaec and Donnchadh.
But, it would seem, that one particular naming foible has died the death it so richly deserves, and that is the practice by some parents of naming their children after entire football teams.
My how their offspring must have laughed as they filled in yet another official form with the entire Liverpool European cup-winning side’s names.
There are a couple of reasons for this I think. Firstly the squad system means you no longer have to pick 11 names, but you’ve got 20 or 30 to get in. Secondly, the insidious rise of the football agent and big-money transfers has meant that by the time you get to the registrar, your beloved child’s name no longer plays for your favourite team, they’ve signed for Inter Milan for £50m.

IN the past I have written somewhat scathingly of those who adorn their houses with as many Christmas lights as their overloaded fuse boxes can cope with.
I have not looked kindly on those whose homes flash away like a festive Chernobyl, illuminating the entire neighbourhood with their comedy climbing Santas and their luminous reindeer.
Bah, humbug, said I.
That is until I took my son past them. Now two and a half, he’s old enough to reaslise what’s going on and to him matters of taste, scale and decorum are just daddy being dull.
The bigger, brighter, more luridly-coloured, the better he likes it.
Driving down one particular street was like being on Sunset Strip, and he loved it. Pointing out each and every lit-up home where neighbours had clearly been trying to outdo each other in wattage, flash-rate and garish colours. Who would have thought you could buy and illuminated Santa descending from a roof…by a parachute.
I felt like Scrooge as he looked upon the crutch left behind by the departed Tiny Tim.
The lights chez Banks may remain minimalist white, but I’ll try not to be so snooty about those of you who entertain the children of the neighbourhood with every colour of the rainbow and a few extra too. And with that resolution I’ll wish you all a very happy, healthy and prosperous 2006.


cymrumark said...

Happy New Year.

Have followed your advice from October (yeah ok I took my time) have a new blog which allows comments......the links are driving me barmy but I will fix it soon....

all the best


LottieP said...

My favourite is the woman overheard in Glasgow spermarket shouting to her hapless daughter "Hurry up Pocahontas or ye'll get a skelped erse!"
L (via headcase)