Friday, 4 January 2013

What's in a Name?

For the last 44 years (looks 34) I've been officially and statutorily known as William. Just William, no middle name, just the one. Austerity naming if ever there was such a thing. I’m not bitter, not that you can tell anyway.
Neither overly complicated nor unusual; I don’t think, just a plain, classically tasteful, sartorial, traditional English name. I'm not sure whether it would be allowed in Iceland though.
But I think their list is an attempt to try and avoid people calling their kiddies Stanzena, Deslulu, Rogarbra or Dollybraham rather than by a proper name.  I must look into that though, for as you know my first born is currently scheduled to be called February Godwin. I’m sure it will be ok.
However, it has come to pass that at work my name has suddenly, and with increasing regularity, become Godwin. Not in a boarding school or military sort of way, just people seeing my name in an email or on the phone display and then for some strange can’t read properly or getting too old to really be working type reason, take it that the Godwin part is my first name. Queer!  
At first I put it down to the fact that Godwin is a first name in some African countries. I didn’t know this initially, but I looked it up at the lending library. And so people originally from Africa could easily confuse, like I might if someone was called Dame Tallulah Jacqueline Suzanne, which name would come first? Oh I can just imagine the quandary. This made sense as well, for the first people to reorder my moniker in the office were African. But then, like many international trends, it crossed the continents and all sorts of people who had no link, affiliation or even football team in common with Africa, and probably only knew foreign as anything further north than West Bromwich started to join in. Bandwagoning some might say – Queer I say.
I have been dealing with it mostly in the same way I do when people call me Mr Goodwin, by simply saying my correct name back at them immediately, and then pretending nothing erroneous has taken place. I replied to one colleague by email, informing her that I was very happy for her to call me by my first name if she liked. On the phone, I say 'It's William' when they say, 'Ah, Hellooo Godwin'. But really should I have too? It's not as it I am Thomas Thomson Tomley Tompkinson or anything silly like that.
So I am baffled.
Previously the only banter or badinage I'd had regarding my name was lying to people when they asked me if I was related to 'The' William Godwin, to which I always answer yes. But this new linguistic conundrum has no fun to it. Apart that is from the miniscule pleasure obtained in correcting people. But to be honest even that is negligĂ©e-able. No one has done a grand 'Oh, I can't believe it, I am so sorry I called you by your surname, how insulting!' The best I've had was for someone to momentarily look up from their pot noodle and give me a 'whatever – yeah, that thing you just said' look.
If it happens again I may have to do a Danny a la his wonderful slightly incoherent (sherry?) ‘Does God give churches Sunday off?’ LBC rant.
 'you’re very rude my dear'
44 (34) years in the business - how very dare they!