Names

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So, Katie Price named her new baby 'Bunny'. Good for her. It's her child, she can call her whatever she wants. That's one of the many joys of being a parent, I imagine. Of course, people are making uninspiring jokes about bunnies of the Playboy and vibrating variety (delightful references to Katie's early career choices) but is the name really any worse than any of the other obscure names given to celebrities' children? Everyone made a fuss when the Beckhams announced their firstborn son would be named Brooklyn, but that seems almost normal now. 'Place' names are so early-00s, don't you know? It's all about fruit, colours and compass directions nowadays.

Names are important, though. Like it or not, they influence your life - it's a fact. And even more so now, in a world where parents can search for unusual baby names based on whether or not the .com domain is still available. No-one wants a boring name, so is it really a big deal if a random celebrity decides to name their child Bunny or Princess or Buddy Bear? There are people in America with names like Hashtag and Yoga, so let's leave off poor Katie, yeah?

And no-one is as vehemently anti-boring-name as me. If you happened to have known me over two years ago, you will remember that my surname used to be Smith. I'm lucky that my first name isn't that common, because Smith is one hell of a dull name. And don't all you Smiths get your knickers in a twist - you know I'm right. Just think back to the last time you were introduced to someone whose last name was also Smith, and you smiled half-heartedly, muttering "what are the chances, eh?" before you shared that awkward, sad laugh I came to know so well. Don't act like you don't know what I'm talking about.

And, no, I didn't get married. The fact that people assumed this and insisted on congratulating me without even asking if that was indeed the case is a topic for another blog post, though. The reason isn't important. What is important is how it made me feel when I finally did it, after months of thinking about it.

I spent 25 years as a Smith, then suddenly I was thrown (Or rather, I threw myself) into an alternative universe where people misspelled and mispronounced my name, and they obviously still do. I kind of enjoy it though.

Kate Smith was forgettable. No-one ever asked her about her name or life or work. Now I get to explain that, yes, it's like that American brand of ice-cream, or that it's German but probably not pronounced like you think it is, or that it means 'person who works on a lathe'. Smiths don't get to do that.

I do sometimes wonder if I had been given a more common first name, whether I would have changed it or not. Maybe. Changing a surname is much easier than changing a first name (although still a massive pain in the arse) but if I genuinely felt like my name was holding me back in some way, or felt like it 'wasn't me' then yes, I probably would.

Of course, Bunny might eventually develop the opposite opinion to mine and want to dull it down a bit. And if she does decide she doesn't like her leporine epithet, or feels that it's not 100% 'her', then she can just change it. After all, her mother referred to herself as Jordan for many years, but that alter-ego has now been relegated to the pages of her bargain basement autobiography, with Katie Price now her go-to moniker.

That's the thing with names: They stick. Bunny may or may not choose to be in the public eye, but either way she can live safe in the knowledge that if she wants to reinvent herself and go the deed-poll route, then her old name will disappear for as long as she wants it to. Sure, it will still be online, referenced on her Wikipedia page and all the articles she will inevitably have written about her childhood, but once you start referring to yourself by another name, that's it. People have to accept it. When was the last time you heard anyone refer to Stevland Hardaway Judkins, Farrokh Bulsara or Ilynea Lydia Mironoff?

photo credit: quinn.anya via photopin cc
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