Saturday, 25 February 2012

Saturday Snapshot (3)

The other day, I read somewhere that no less than 54 % of parents soon regret the name they gave their baby at birth. ‘It does not fit my child’s personality,’ they moan - whatever mysterious correlation they may have in mind…

No less comical: 20 % of grown-ups would like to change their own given name! They also have the feeling that their deeper self is not adequately reflected by the Ominous Nomen which their callous parents improvised at their birth.  

All good and well, but if first names are so very unsatisfactory, then why are people so deeply in love with them? Look around you. People scribble their name whenever and wherever they find an excuse. On their T-shirts, on their licence plates, on backpacks and baseball caps, on toilet doors and alley walls. They carve them into the barks of trees that have done them no wrong, and I even know of literate British hooligans (not always a contradiction in terms!) who chiselled their moniker into the pillars of Cape Sounion!

If you are really ashamed of your Christian name, you do not do such things. You forget about graffiti and find an alternative to immortalise yourself. As did the owner of a house up on the crumbling citadel of Castelo de Vide in eastern Portugal. I guess he was called something like Wamba, or Eudoxio Hermenegildo. Can’t scribble that on the outside of your home sweet home, can you? You’d be the laughing stock of your community! So you go for a different form of vanitas: you put your face on your façade…

Castelo de Vide is, incidentally, one of the nicest and most neglected towns of Portugal. European Development Funds mostly passed them by for lack of political connections, which means that the historic inner city has not yet been improved with parking garages, empty cultural centres, and monstrous tourist bazaars where you may buy pots of honey and authentic ceramic. They do have rare Jewish buildings, gorgeous renaissance fountains, dolmen galore, and a population that still welcomes travelers with money in their pockets. You surely get my hint, dear reader…

[PS One of the investigators who discovered people’s profound discontentment with their first names is called Nifa McLaughlin. One wonders what urged her to tackle the subject…?]


  1. Alfie, The days have gone in which you can use 'Christian' is place of 'forename'. You are inviting retribution from non-Christians. Some of whom are more violent than others.

  2. My dear Colin,

    As long as My Day has not yet come, those days have not yet gone.

    If morons wish to cleanse our languages of our heritage, they are welcome to adapt their vocabulary. They are not welcome to prescribe what I may use. And I have a double-barreled hunting rifle ready for when they want to become violent.

    Yours. ABM.