The game of the name

You can usually tell a person’s age by their name.   In the ‘90s I worked in a hospital shop; my co-worker was called Dorothy – she was about 100.

Because of the success of the Thomas the Tank Engine books, published in 1945, many boys were subsequently called Thomas, Gordon or Percy (being called Percy made you tougher at school); although Duck and Fat didn’t take off as much.

I would sit in Balham Library in the late ‘60s devouring these books wondering why I was called ‘Michael’?  Had my mum had a visit from an Archangel?  Did she aspire to buy her underwear at Mark’s?  I so wanted there to be an engine called Michael.

The Famous Five, published shortly before Thomas, would have had an influence on girls being called Ann or Georgina (the consumption of ginger beer surged during this period too).

With the advent of TV, I wonder how many twins were called Willy & Jenny or Bill & Ben or Ron & Reg (little known characters from Tales of the Riverbank)?

When I was born, in 1957, the top girls’ names were Susan (90% of our class were called Susan, including a couple of boys); Linda; Christine and Margaret (everyone wants to be called after a princess).  Michael was the 4th most popular boy’s name; David, John and Stephen being the top 3 – all four named after Kings – England, Israel and Heaven.

I got off lightly, as modern culture is hugely powerful with childrens’ names.   Michael is preferable to Kylie, Peppa or Laa-Laa and given The Lone Ranger was at the height of its fame when I was born, I could easily have been called Tonto.

10 thoughts on “The game of the name

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