Bryan Hemming

short stories, comment, articles, humour and photography

Choosing Baby’s First Name

Another restless night got me thinking again. What with my youngest nephew and his partner looking forward to the arrival of their first son, it occurred to me they’d appreciate a hand choosing a name.Thinking about it even further, in the eye of a crisis, I realised I’m exactly the sort of bloke they need. They’re just not up to it.

Though most expectant parents won’t admit it, don’t you get the impression they long for helpful suggestions from senior members of the extended family? Admit it. Grandpas and grandmas excepted. They usually come up with stupid names that belonged to the family idiot of a bygone age. Or the one who went to prison. Whatever, it’s always the numpkin everybody else is desperately trying to forget ever existed. So that leaves me, as nobody listens to what batty aunts say, unless it’s: “Would you like some more?” After all’s said and done, I’m one of the ones that’ll have to call him by the damned thing, and write it on his birthday cards, so it’s only right I should have my say.

Understanding his shyness about asking, and realising he wasn’t born with a full hundred watts, without further ado, I compiled a list for my nephew to choose from and emailed it off straightaway, before he had a chance to get one of his own harebrained ideas out. He’s pretty slow off the mark, so I had a bit of time. I can just imagine the relief he’ll feel at getting it. It’s times like these they ought to know what the ‘phew’ in nephew means. Phew! thank God Uncle Bry has come to the rescue.

I started off with some of the usuals, which come to everybody’s mind without even having to think. Just in case they might need a less imaginative one to fall back on. You know the ones I mean. We can all recite them off by heart, Peregrine, Winstanley, Aubrey, Cuthbert, Dinsdale and Beverley et al. Nevertheless, knowing my nephew and his deficiency in the grey matter department, I thought I’d better write them down. In big letters. The boy plopped out with cobwebs in his attic. Wasn’t his fault, I blame the parents. My sister used to lick at the lead paint on our window sills. Those first few ordinary names were followed by a few good, old, biblical types.Time-honoured monikers like Ebenezer, Abednego, Lemuel and Zadok are not to be sniffed at out of hand.

Then I thought I’d throw in a couple of popular historical names for good measure. Ringo would be an inspired choice, or Bing, for that matter. As would Hereward, Ethelred, Zebedee, or even Haakon, with its attractive Nordic flavour.

Oddly enough, some other, more exotic, foreign-sounding names, having fallen out fashion for one reason or another, must be due for a comeback. Adolf, Judas, Rasputin and Pol are just a sprigful that spring to mind.

There’s certainly more than a lot of good ones to choose from out of that lot, you have to admit. So to make a difficult job simple, I suggested he write them all down on bits of paper, fold them, and put them in a hat from which he could pluck one out. Or even two. With two they could end up with a thoughful pairing any young lad would love to grow up with, like Ethelred Zadok, Beverley Bing or Judas Winstanley. I rather like Peregrine Ringo, myself. That made me think of combining names to come up with completely new ones, Peregringo, for instance, or Herezebedee.

One thing I insist on is that my nephew keep it to himself for the time being. I tell you, the boy’s got a mouth on him like a catflap in a hurricane. But I’m telling him he has to keep it as tight as Prince Philip’s purse till the little blighter’s popped out. Then he should nip down to the registry office in half a trice to get it on the birth certificate. What a lovely surprise that will be for the unsuspecting mother when she wakes up. No need for him to let on I gave him the idea, it’s what uncles are for.

Copyright © 2013 Bryan Hemming

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