One of my favourite bits of the Simpsons is when Bart telephones Moe’s bar and gets Moe to shout out to his patrons ‘I’m looking for…Amanda Huggenkissme’ or some other spurious name designed to cause maximum embarrassment to the unsuspecting and dim-witted Moe. Admit it though, it’d be a tad more embarrassing to have to walk up to Moe to take the call and have to fess up to owning the shameful name. But surely nothing could be as bad as Bart’s fabricated handles…?
Well they say the truth is stranger than fiction. The other day I was watching a bit of day time tv (I swear I only have it on as background whilst I’m beavering away on the laptop) and up popped the Deadly Knowledge quiz game. It’s pure student tv and serves to demonstrate that academically today’s undergraduates are the new ‘O’ levellers. Anyway the girls’ team consisted of Jenny (or some other bland-sounding name) and SeeCum. And it wasn’t pronounced like Harry’s surname (seek-om) but exactly as it appears here with the emphasis on the second syllable. Now I appreciate that one of her folks had an Asian background but you’d think the other parent might have suggested that the name resonated unfortunately here. I didn’t catch her surname but you’d hope for her sake it wasn’t something equally oriental like N’Likket. Even Moe might blanche at that one.
But you know I’ve come across some belting real names over the years. I used to check pools coupons in the evening when I was 16 or so and it was really tedious work. To relieve the boredom we’d have a bit of fun enjoying the entrants’ names. To this day I remember an A.Dimmock, F.Reaky and P U.Kerr. However my fondest memory of an amusing name was a former colleague at Cellnet who had been lovingly christened (and I promise you this is absolutely the truth) Seema Butt. She was a lovely girl and you can probably imagine every guy’s mental (and often verbal) response whenever she introduced herself.
This isn’t quite the same thing but one of my flat mates at University had the surname Winmill. Early on in our first term we went up to register at the National Library of Wales – a brilliant facility equivalent to the British Library – which sat adjacent to the campus complex. Once I’d gone through the registration process with the quietly spoken and slightly deaf receptionist, it was over to Martin to answer her questions about his personal details. When she enquired about his surname he diligently answered W-i-n-m-i-l-l and politely offered the useful advice ‘No D’. Misinterpreting this ever so slightly she responded ‘Ah Noddy’ and noted this down as his Christian name. Too late mate; immediately he became known as Noddy Winmill; a moniker he always hated – and the more he hated it, the more we enjoyed calling him it.
And everyone must know that the father of footballers Gary and Phil Neville is christened Neville. You’d hate your parents for that wouldn’t you?
Amusing naming is a rich vein of humour at others’ expense of course but it’s hard not to feel sorry for the poor saps who have to go through life with unfortunate names. I once remember listening to ‘Ask the Panel’ (or whatever it was called) and this guy steps up and asks ‘Does the panel think that parents should give more thought to the naming of their children’ to which the panel chairman said ‘Thank you sir and your name is?’ The poor, poor bastard stuttered ‘Norman…Norman Conquest. I kid you not; it’s the absolute truth. I nearly cried for a second and then broke up in pieces. I know, it was heartless but come on, it’s funny.
If you’ve got any other examples – or maybe you’re proud of your unusual name – please let me know. I promise I won’t laugh. Yeh right! Aww come on, look I’ve got a christian-sounding name for both my given and surname and I had to endure years of teachers at my surname-only grammar school, mixing the two up. Much to the amusement of my classmates. Well at least I didn’t have a handle like the guy who sat in the next desk to me on my first day at grammar school – Martin Moncrieff Lord. I remember saying something like ‘Good grieff Moncrieff, what does your dad do because my dad’s a breadman? And you know, he was an electrician or something.
What’s in a name eh?