Monday, 7 November 2016

What's in a Name?

There are two reasons that help me to understand why people procreate. Only two. Two reasons that positively offset all the sleepless nights, incessant, irrational crying and projectile bodily fluids. These are…

  •      You can make the baby wear a hat with ears.
  •      You get to name another person, and help create their initial identity.

The ‘hats with ears’ thing is a no brainer. Literally every baby that was ever born looks a million times better in a hat with ears. There is no exception. Take a look at this website.  Their section of ‘hats with ears’ is called ‘Ear Hats’. This is most pleasing. We should all have a cupboard or drawer where our Ear Hats are stored. On the downside, however, it seems they have been categorised by gender. I’m not sure how gendered an Ear Hat for a new-born needs to be, but hey ho.

 Source: Beanie Designs

Anyway, on to point two, which is the excitingly giddy responsibility of naming a child. And now I must clarify the reference regarding identity. As much as I feel that names and identity are deeply entwined, I also know this isn’t set in stone. Identity can be played with at any point. Whether it is a toddler deciding they are going to be a dog for the rest of the day, or whether it is - as I did - ditching Nicola as my first name the second I started High School. Identity and the power of a name are fluid concepts, and usually under the control of the individual concerned. Yet, and yet…. how absolutely brilliant to have the chance to push-start someone on their way by giving them their name.

Because of my refusal to put up with the other aspects of child-rearing as stated above, I have to satisfy this desire for attempted personality creation, with the naming of my characters. And let’s face it, here I have complete control over the shape of their lives, and how they choose to behave. It’s the perfect way to flex my naming muscles without having to wipe up escaping excrement from the sofa cushions. So far, anyway.

Naming my main character - the female protagonist - felt as important as naming a child. I ended up calling her Tilda. Not only is this a name I like, but it hinted at a slightly interesting backstory which may or may not tally with what we learn about her. I wonder how many Tildas would have been born in Stockport, forty years ago. (Age and birthplace teaser there for you.) I also like the idea of her originally being called Matilda, because I had a doll with that name in 1979. Perhaps rather tellingly, my doll was not named by me, but my mother. As were my other dolls, Gilbert, Cilla, and the less imaginatively titled, Dolly. But I digress.

My male lead character’s name was harder to pinpoint. At the time, I was watching series one of Homeland, and felt drawn to the name of Damien Lewis’ character, Brodie. I liked how it was his last name, but also used as his first. It felt too easy just to nick that, so I scratched my head a bit longer until I came upon the name, Grady. Jessica Fletcher’s nephew on Murder She Wrote deserves to be immortalised in print, and this was the perfect opportunity.
So, my unnamed main characters became Tilda and Grady and I got on with writing their story, whilst sleeping soundly, and not requiring a packet of baby wipes to be glued to my side.

If only I’d been able to find the perfect Ear Hats for them, then I’d have been truly content.

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