Monday, 1 February 2010

A rose by any other name

I have a pretty unremarkable name. My christian name is one of the most common in the UK, as is my surname. If you look for me on Facebook, you will find more than 500 people who share my name internationally. (I don't know how many more than 500. Facebook can only count that far. But more than 500 is a lot, no?)

In fact, one of my friends is married to someone (a friend-in-law?) who shares my name, that's how many of us there are sprinkled about. Fancy being at a wedding and sitting next but one to someone with your actual whole total name!

I don't have a middle name either. In my first job, our computer system required everyone to have three initials, and our IT department, dumbfounded by my incomplete identity, gave me the gift of a middle initial - X. Mysterious, no? I like the idea of Tooting X Squared being my pen name. I was asked repeatedly over the course of three and a half years if my middle name was Xanthia, Zantha or Zina.

More recently another friend convinced himself that I must have a middle name really, but one so embarrassing that I'd deny it. In jest I told him that my middle name was Blodwyn. He believed me and told all our mutual friends. I ended up having to take my passport to work to prove that it had only been a joke.

But actually, my name has always done me proud. It's uncomplicated and I like that. There is never a time that I have to spell my name over the phone, or correct pronunciation. As a tag, it works for me. I like it.

On Saturday night I met a friend for a drink in a pub a bus ride away. Here in Old London Town, we now have clever things called Oyster cards - a sort of credit card that you charge up for all your train, tube and bus travel. It's all very modern. When I got on the bus I put my card in my pocket. When I got back on the bus to come home, it was gone. Bugger.

So, on Sunday morning I called the nice people at the Lost Oyster department (The Tale of the Little Lost Oyster, by Tooting X Squared ...). I explained my situation to the girl on the phone, who cheerfully told me that my card could be magically find my card, stop it being used by someone else, and send me a new one. Splendid!

She asked me what the twelve digit reference number was on the back of my card. Well I don't know. The card's gone, you see. She sighed. "Name." Pardon? "I'll need your name to find you on the system." I gave her my name. She sighed again. "You'll have to narrow it down a bit. You're very common."

Perhaps simple isn't so simple after all.


  1. Bet she is the top of their Customer Satisfaction Survey. Hope you didn't have too much credit left.

  2. Oh, do I ever know how you feel. Of course, Isabella Golightly is my nom-de-blog, but my real name consistently is spelt wrong (a couple more "n's", an "e" here & there, the occasional "z") and I end up getting other people's addresses on my prescriptions - not so funny if you ever had to appear in court to testify why you were getting HRT at 27. Sympathies for the Oyster loss, too. Most irritating.

  3. Who would ever have thought there might be an upside to being called Blodwyn? My sympathies. I hope you weren't too out-of-pocket on the Oyster.

  4. I kind of miss my slightly unusual maiden name but it is a joy not to have to spell it all the time.

    It's kind of nice that it's not your name that distinguishes you. Who'd want to be a called one of those silly Poppy Peaches Flowerdrop Moonjuice Feather Phoenix names when in fact you end up being rather plain?

  5. Ahem, - no jest here - my middle names are . . . wait for it: Poppy, followed by Bronwyn!!

    I can show you my passport to prove it. . . .what can I say?!

    Amelia x

  6. Amaranthine - To be fair to her, I assume that on a Sunday morning, they are innundated with calls from hungover people. But still ...

    IG - I CANNOT believe that's not your real name! My bubble is burst!

    Autolycus - A ;east it wouldn't be common!

    BL - I shall probably call my firstborn Poppy Peaches Flowerdrop Moonjuice Feather Phoenix. That's an ace name. Especially for a boy...

    Amelia - I think that there is a vast difference between Blodwyn and Bronwyn, dear. Largely in as much as one is a lovely girls name and the other sounds like a footcream. (You got the good one!)

  7. I can unfortunatly beat you on the common name thing! One of my closest friends shares not only my first name, but my middle name and surname! We were at Uni togther and had to have nick names to avoid confusion. I can only imagine the millions of us in britian with our name, i hate it! your name however is a lovely name and i only know one other person with your name! :)


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