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VALERIE HILL: A child's name is for life, not just the christening.


EVEN commentators like Jonathan Ross, whose career mission seems to be to mock the afflicted, can't resist the showbiz desire to give their children ludicrously embarrassing names.

With his wife, Jane, they've lumbered their offspring with the names Betty Kitten, Harvey Kirby and Honey Kinney.

The world's most sensible man, Bob Geldof, thought it a good idea to burden his daughters with Fifi-Trixibelle, Peaches and Pixie. We surely can't blame the choice entirely on his late former wife Paula Yates.

There is definitely an unspoken competitive sport among celebrities to outdo each other with the most noticeable name. Unfortunately this usually turns out to be the silliest. In spite of all the wealth and help that celebrities can draw on for their clothes fashion, they still become victims where more is simply too much. Likewise for names; there's a yearning to be different, but what is achieved with calling a boy Elijah Bob Patricus Guigi Q - the benighted son of Bono?

(When your father affects a stage name just one letter away from a dog biscuit, can we be surprised?) Anna Ryder Richardson, who rode to modest fame as a telly home makeover stylist, came up with Dixie Dot and Bibi Belle for her two mites. That's just the problem of course. These names are passably and (slightly) amusing until the children are aged about four years, thereafter such monikers are just plain embarrassing.

What on earth was chef Jamie Oliver and his wife Jules thinking with Daisy Boo? Even film actor John Malkovich's choice for his daughter of Amandine, while sounding French, also sounds a bit nutty. Britney Spears' reported attempt to be exotic for her child materialised with her son's name London Preston. Why didn't she go the whole hog and have him christened Manchester Ship Canal?

But it seems like I'm blaming this rash of unsuitable and over the top on the witless celebrity culture. If anything these parents are hardly trying.

Archivists down in Cornwall have been rooting in county records back to the 16th century. From censuses, registers of births, deaths and marriages the researchers have compiled a list of more than 1,000 names that sound odd, unbelievable, rude or just plain funny to the modern ear.

The pressure is off Zowie Bowie (son of David), Dweezil and Moon Unit (children of Frank Zappa).

Step forward Truth Bullock and Philadelphia Bunnyface.

Believe it or not in Padstow, Mr and Mrs Jeans named their son Levi. But back in 1797, many decades before the arrival of denim trousers, it was not an issue.

Neither was the baptism of Charity Dingle at Petherwin in 1702 likely to cause a snigger because her namesake was the tart with the heart in Emmerdale 300 years later.

Many people are stuck with surnames that lack a certain euphonic sound. All the more reason why parents should think carefully about the outcome of pairing them with first names that either rhyme or alliterate, compounding the awkwardness. The Cornwall Record Office unearthed Susan Booze, Edward Evil, Fozzitt Bonds (a name overlooked by the Muppet Show), Gentle Fudge, Obedience Ginger and Freke Dorothy Fluck Lane. There was another Charity, as in "as cold as", namely Charity Chilly.

In contrast to these over-colourful examples, Mr and Mrs Gurney must have lacked even a Bible and were clearly pushed to think of anything at all.

They simply plumped for Offspring Gurney.

Mr and Mrs Hornblower, of Truro seemed to have swallowed the good book. Their seven children were baptised Jecoliah, Jedidah, Jerusha, Erastus, Azubia, Constantia and, of course, Horatio.

Let's not overlook, either, some great couplings: John Bath married Elizabeth Duckem; Nicholas Bone got it together with Priscilla Skin; Richard Dinner was matched with Mary Cook; Charles Swine was drawn to Jane Ham.

Remember this is just one county. I can't wait for Lancashire or Liverpool Record Offices to try a similar exercise. With any luck they'll at least come up with Ivor Liver Bird and Izzy Eckerslike


Britney, did you really want your son to sound like a railway timetable when you chose the names London Preston for him
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Daily Post (Liverpool, England)
Date:Sep 16, 2005
Previous Article:Digital by 2009.
Next Article:VALERIE HILL: Trinny and Suzanna.

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