The Baby Names Game

So Ma and I play this “game” where we tell each other the names of people’s children, and then we judge them.

OK, you know what, that sounds a lot less creepy in my head. Wait! Don’t go, come back, let me explain.

Basically, we noticed (well, Ma and her mate Lib – hi Lib!) that there were basically two types of sibling name sets: the ones that matched, and the ones that didn’t. For example, my brothers and I are Lucy, Richard and Peter. Say it out loud. It goes, right? It fits together. All of our names are nice, traditional English names, spelt sensibly, nothing outlandish. They could have come right from the pages of a 1950s novel about a seaside holiday.

On the other hand, a set of names like James, Alannah and Wilfred makes no sense. There is no consistency in the names. No “theme”. No “genre”. James is all Biblical, Alannah is rather modern and Wilfred should be in the 1920s with Bertie and Ivy. They don’t fit together.

Anyway, I’ve taken the game to the extreme (as I so often do…) and started looking up sets of baby names to roast or praise. This caught the attention of some people, and they have ACTUALLY VOLUNTEERED THEIR FAMILIES for what they entertainingly and sweetly called “analysis”. I feel ever so slightly guilty, despite them basically asking for it, so I’ve disguised the volunteers amongst some unwitting and sacrificial subjects. Best of luck to you all….

Without further explanatory ado, I present to you, episode one of Lucy’s Judging The Heck Out Of You…

Up first, we have Merlin, Lorcan, Hector Ophelia: I literally cannot put into words how happy this set of names makes me. They are SO ridiculous, SO utterly posh and pompous, that everything about this makes me happy. Imagine calling them in for tea. I mean, you wouldn’t be able to, because they’d be running across the entire estate, probably on their ponies, possibly playing polo, and shouting from the back door like normal people do just wouldn’t work. Not unless their mother’s voice carries across twelve acres. They are all going to go to schools that you pay for, and have hobbies like sailing, and lacrosse, and the Henley Regatta. Merlin will be an sculptor, Lorcan will be an alcoholic schoolmaster, probably teaching Classics, Hector will be a barrister and Ophelia will marry someone with a title and pop out three horsey children, who’ll be the inaugural members of the new generation of Sloane Rangers.

Birth Certificates Awarded: SIX out of five, because anyone who calls their child Merlin without a trace of irony deserves worshipping.

Next we have Nicholas, Brendan, Elizabeth Susan:  here’s a fact about this family. In the original draft of C.S. Lewis’ novel The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe, these were in fact the names of the four children that Lewis was going to use. Then of course, he realised that Brendan was a terrible name and used the Find and Replace function on his Macbook Pro to replace all the names with Peter, Susan, Edmund and Lucy. Basically, Brendan ruined it for the others. They could have been winter wonderland stars. They could have been Kings and Queens at Cair Paravel, but no. Brendan had to go and be all modern and contemporary and RUIN IT FOR EVERYONE ELSE.

Birth Certificates Awarded: Three out of five, because although Brendan is basically a massive spanner in an otherwise gloriously old-fashioned set of names, the fact that I haven’t been able to stop thinking about Narnia since I read them redeems them considerably.

Thirdly on today’s judgy, judgy roster, we have Harry, Raef Fawn. When I first read these names, I felt an overwhelming swell of sympathy for the parents. Picture it: they get home from the hospital, exhausted, following a long labour and delivery, brand-new baby in arms, toddler Harry demanding attention, and they look down at the birth certificate, only to realise…the registrar can’t bloody spell. Because Raef is spelled Ralph, or, if your tiny brain really can’t cope with that, Rafe. I didn’t like to dwell on the scene that must have unfolded – a banshee-like wail of horror, a storm of sobbing, a desperate search for the receipt to return the baby to the hospital and try again…. – so I moved to the last name in the trio. And then it was ME letting out a banshee wail of horror. Fawn. They named their baby Fawn. Which means Raef is deliberate. I cannot bear it.

Birth Certificates Awarded: One out of five. For Harry, and because it’s not the fault of his siblings that their parents are….attempting to be trendsetters. *shudder*

Next please!

Ah, we come now to Karon, Kim Mandy. Well, firstly, Karon is spelled wrong. Karen. KarEn. These bloody registrars, hey? You’d think being able to spell was a job requirement, and not an optional extra. I got quite excited as I started reading these names, “Ooooh, a set of phonetic names!” until I read ‘Mandy’, and then, oh sad times. They could have gone for Kathleen, Kate, Kristen, Kay….but they opted for Mandy. That said, I cannot be too disappointed. My absolute PET HATE with baby names is not a lack of genre, or a strange mix of spellings (although the proofreader in me winces), but people who call their baby one thing, and then specify they’ll be calling the baby a nickname. AAAAAARRRRRGGGH! DO NOT NAME YOUR BABY STEPHANIE IF IT’S GOING TO BE KNOWN AS STEVIE! DON’T NAME YOUR BABY ROSALIND IF IT’S GOING TO BE KNOWN AS LUNA! DON’T NAME YOUR BABY ALFRED IF IT’S GOING TO BE KNOWN AS ALFIE! JUST CALL THE BABIES STEVIE, LUNA AND ALFIE! Which is why, although Mandy is not a ‘K’ name, like her siblings, I am still awarding them nearly-full marks. Because at least she is called Mandy, and not “Amanda (to be known as Mandy)”! Incidentally, if anyone is interested, I am pretty sure these three siblings are characters from a 90s novel full of intrigue, sexual deviancy and financial fraud in the City. If they’re not, they should be. (Karon probably lives in Sussex in a renovated farmhouse, Kim is a financial whizkid in the city, and Mandy is impossibly glamorous and having an affair with her boss.)

Birth Certificates Awarded: Four and a half out of five. Half a certificate is lost because of the spelling and the lack of continued “K”s. We won’t dwell, but if this was a school report, my comment would be “Good effort, please try harder next term.”

Thank you for joining me for this episode of Lucy’s Judging The Heck Out Of You. Have a nice day, and think extremely carefully about your spelling (but please give no consideration at all to the names of your children, so that this game can run and run for me. Thanks.)

2 thoughts on “The Baby Names Game

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