Naming a child is a big responsibility for parents and they need to get it right, argues Kevan-with-an-A Christie (aka Pelé Christy).
‘What’s in a name?
That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet?”
That’s easy for you to say William Shakespeare but some of us were hit with a dodgy handle before the midwife had even administered her first slap. The privilege of being given the naming rights to your children is a major responsibility handed to parents but one that is all too easy to mess up.
Get it right and they’ll thank you for life, get it wrong and it’s tantamount to child abuse.
I have lived experience of this being called Kevan which I tell people is like Kevin but with an ‘A’ although I never used to tell them where the letter ‘A’ went – until a friendly colleague pointed this out.
I’m named after Derek Kevan, a former West Bromwich Albion and England footballer who died in 2013, although in hindsight my old man could have just called me Derek which would have left both parties satisfied and saved me from a lifetime of name correction misery. Win-win.
The trigger for this mini rant was the death last Saturday of another England footballer and World Cup winning hero Martin Peters... who my wee brother is named after. Stick with me dear reader – for these are the ‘hard yards’.
My father Terence (one R), known as Terry and a former professional footballer, born in Scotland of Irish parents, decided it was a good idea to name his sons after prominent English players for reasons that to this day are known only to him.
I wouldn’t have minded if he called me Pelé, like everyone else did when I played football in the playground and I could have lived with George Best Christie but, no, it had to be so much more difficult.
I also have a sister called Carol who to the best of my knowledge isn’t named after Newcastle Utd centre-forward Andy Carroll but she’s had a lucky escape there if you ask me. Anyway, my brother had enough of these shenanigans and changed his name legally by deed poll to Max some years ago which was his nickname as a child.
A flood of Gretas
In the interests of research, I have scanned the 15 most popular Scottish names for girls in 2019 and thankfully most of them look straightforward enough, the likes of Ava, Grace, Emily and Olivia which topped the chart should prove user-friendly enough for their owners.
However, number 11, Ellie, struck me as problematic, with the Elly-spelt-with-a-Y camp locked in a bitter struggle with the ie-at-the-end brigade. Good luck with that folks, hope the “how are you spelling that?” question doesn’t grate too much. Thankfully, Natalie was kept off the list as only people who went to private school in Scotland can pronounce that one correctly the rest of us saying Na-ha-lay.
A glance at the top 15 boys names filled me with hope during this festive period. None of them are particularly difficult to spell and there seems to be a return to old names like James, Oliver and Alexander although I think Noah at number six on the list is taking things a bit too far back.
Perhaps this is inspired by the need for immediate climate action, and if so we can expect a flood of Gretas to appear in the near future. Harris makes the list but I’m no fan of the ‘two surnames’ name which seems a bit of a cop out, like Jackson Carlaw. Winner of the bonkers name award goes to the late Neville Neville, the father to sporting trio Gary, Phil and Tracey. What was going through their grandparents heads when they decided on that beauty? Surely a mistake.
But it did give rise to one of the greatest football songs of all time when both Gary and Phil were playing for Manchester Utd.
“Neville Neville your future’s immense
Neville Neville you play in defence
Neville Neville you ain’t half bad
Neville Neville is the name of your dad”
Trevor, Derek and Karen
Prince Harry and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, deserve praise for naming their son Archie; although probably not after the esteemed BBC Scotland commentating legend Archie Macpherson.
A good Scottish/German name that translates as thinking you’ve arrived if you come from Dundee as in “he thinks he’s Erchie”.
However, this still wasn’t enough to merit a picture of the happy family on the Queen’s desk during her Christmas message with Her Majesty scaling back The Firm to only those with a reasonable chance of succeeding to the throne. So, hingers oan like Prince Andrew need not apply. It’s fair to say some names have had their day and most likely won’t return – which is a shame.
I grew up with children called Trevor, Derek, Keith and a fair few Garys along with a host of girls called Karen, but I assume these aren’t so popular now given that naming kids has become a fashion statement and a closely guarded secret, like we care.
There have certainly been some belters in recent years and it has long been rumoured that someone in Scotland called their daughter Pocahontas, but this story may be apocryphal. But the likes of Sailor, Thor, Hero, Rainbow and Ultra-Violet are now taking their first baby steps as we speak.
I remember a teacher telling me he had taught a Connie-Francis Collins and a Pat-Boon Marshall back in the 80s, two beauties that always raise a titter.
Anyway, back to matters of spelling and it turns out my personal name misery is far from over. In September I found out that my surname is actually Christy not Christie after a copy of my grandad’s birth certificate emerged.
At first I thought this was some kind of romantic discrimination against Irish people by the establishment – but it turned out he got fed up of having to correct people who’d spelt his name wrong... Happy New Year when it comes.