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Whats in a Name?

My cousin boasts five names and I confess that when I was younger that irritated me enormously. Worse than that, my sole middle name is Norman, just as my father's was before me, and his father before him. It didn't seem to do them any harm, lugging round such a tag all their lives, though I'd prefer not to have to.

I mean, can you name a famous film star or sportsman named Norman? I can't. I always wanted to be called Tempest, or Tyrone, or Troy, or even Trigger, but certainly not Norman. There have been famous Norman's of course. Norman Schwartzkopf, army general, Norman Tebbitt, the British Cabinet Minister, who always appeared in public as if he had a rotting fish adjacent to his nostrils. He was one of Mrs Thatcher's staunchest sidekicks, until he was blown out of his bed in the Brighton bombing atrocity. Prior to that he was more famous for telling the nation's unemployed to "get on yer bike" and find work.

Of course William the Conqueror was a Norman, but he wasn't actually called Norman, he wasn't Norman the Norman, but he did invade and conquer Britain in 1066 and slay King Harold with an apple in his eye, or was it an arrow? I forget now, for it was so long ago. But either way, the new King Willie, as he was known to the locals, and much worse than that behind his back by the conquered, never once considered changing his name to Norman. No surprise there then.

But back to my cousin. Worse even than the fact he had five names, but that one of them was St. John. Saint John! How could anyone compete with a saint in the family? And oddly his mother would sometimes use that name in public. She would come into the yard and yell, "Come in for your dinner Saint John," except she didn't say Saint John, she pronounced it Sinjun, as if to rhyme with Injun, and for some reason that riled me all the more. It's surprising how riled you can become when you're eight.

Nowadays of course I'd probably choose to be called Tiger or Tyson. It's the "T" thing, "T" for Tough. I guess the ideal name would be to be called Tempest, Tyrone, Troy, Tiger, Tyson. How much Testosterone could you handle?

I suppose it could be worse. I could have been christened Hilary, or Leslie, or Vivian, boy's names all, of a kind. Perhaps Norman isn't so bad after all, though I've successfully kept it under wraps, till now. I even kept it secret from the missus, and for years she was convinced my middle name was Nebuchannezzar, I kid you not. It was only at the critical moment that she discovered I was a Norman, and she almost wet herself on discovering the news, a not untypical reaction. It could have been embarrassing too, with the crowd gathered there.

And then there's that business of being called Davis Love the Third, or Grover Wilson the Fourth, as if they are mediaeval kings. What is that all that about? Grandma comes in and says, "There's a package for you Grover." And four different people step forward and say, "Thanks grandma." I think not.

So what's in a name? Does it really matter if we are called Horace or Hector, or River or Raymond, or Butch or Basil? Well of course it does! To boys. You bet it does.

I don't use my middle name in my byline, you might have noticed that, I still keep it firmly under wraps whenever I can, I sometimes even call myself Nathan, if I'm pushed, and few people know that I am a Norman. It's a secret, just between you and me, and you won't tell anyone, will you?

Copyright David Carter 2005. Reproduced with permission.

David Carter writes for numerous papers and web sites. He also runs a holiday cottage website, where you can access over 7,000 cottages, apartments and villas worldwide. You can contact David on any matter at

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