Moon Unit? Heavenly Hiraani Tiger Lily? Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious??

With another baby Beckham on the way, and a celebrity baby boom imminent, talk is turning again to the continually popular topic of baby names and people are once more laying down the law over what constitutes acceptable choices.  I must confess that, I too, am curious about the names currently being contemplated by David and Victoria.  I do not regard the question with the sarcastic eye roll of most people, but rather with incredulous anticipation. Perhaps, controversially, I love the names Brooklyn, Romeo and Cruz (and for that matter, Peaches and Apple as well), and my only critique would be that they are not outlandish enough.  Not to say that I would applaud the Australian couple who named their daughter ‘Talula Does the Hula from Hawaii’, and I actually have no words for the parents of Adolf Hitler Campbell, Cholera Peace and Violence. However, I see nothing wrong with creativity, and I think that our society could certainly benefit from more original names.

Until recently, Octavia Aphrodite and Oceana Aurora were the confirmed names of my first-born children; and they had several more sisters with matching initials. They were of course all destined to be girls, and if in the regrettable incident that I mainly bred boys (as my mother and grandmothers had unfortunate habits of doing), I had fashioned some equally fabulous names, along the lines of Osiris Apuleius, and Orlando Andromedus. In hindsight, it would probably be wise to pretend that I was joking, although everyone who knows me will confirm that I am a fan of the whimsical.  To be honest, my only reason for the recent edit of the sacred laminated list was a rather cruel comment from a male friend, who suggested that it made me even less likely to find a husband than my already “quirky” character did.  Aphrodite was removed quite quickly due to the possible nickname Aphro; I realised Oceana was the name of a nightclub; and lets face it, Osiris and Andromedus would be bullied mercilessly. Furthermore, several people pointed out that Octavia Aphrodite might get away with the name if she were willowy and beautiful, but it was hardly going to suit a less graceful child. Osiris Apuleius might cut the figure of a mad professor or poet, but it might stifle his burgeoning career as a footballer or builder.

In light of this, Brooklyn starts to seem quite ordinary, and the fact that the name marks the place of his conception makes it less random than a lot of celebrity choices. Likewise, Princess Tiaamii is an amalgamation of Peter Andre’s mother Thea and Katie Price’s mother Amy, and although I will pass over the ‘Princess’ part for the sake of my argument, it is hardly an over the top or groundbreaking decision to name a child after a grandparent. That being said, I am very thankful that my parents restrained from naming me Princess Steferyl or Berka, in honour of my grandmothers Stefka and Beryl.

Peaches and Apple are also frequently included in the ‘Weirdest Baby Names’ lists, but I see nothing wrong with these either. I mean apples and peaches are universally appreciated fruits – it is not as though they named their child Brussels Sprout or Beetroot. Paula Yates is generally considered one of the worst culprits in her name choices, and Peaches actually got off lightly if her sister Fifi Trixibell, and half sister Heavenly Hiraani Tiger Lily are taken into consideration. Personally, I take more issue with Jason Lee’s Pilot Inspektor and Frank Zappa’s Moon Unit and Diva Muffin.  With parents of a more questionable celebrity status, they don’t even have that to fall back on, albeit I doubt having Sylvester Stallone as a father helped Sage Moonblood and Seargeoh in the playground.

I will admit that the theme of eccentricity is undoubtedly taken too far in a lot of these examples; although I have never been one to judge, in the case of child names I have been swayed to the opinion that there is a boundary that ought not to be crossed. It is not really an “each to their own” type of question in the long run, as Fifi and Sage Moonblood will be carrying those names around a lot longer than the novelty, and five minutes of fame, that it brings to their parents. However, I do think that we are in danger of sliding towards the other extreme: I think the names John, Michael, Thomas and Joanna are very pleasant names for my mother to have picked, but I sometimes wish she had been a bit crueller. It would be nice to not have to add numbers after my name in my email address, or to be the only Joanna Rayner on Facebook, or even to avoid those moments of hopeful popularity when ‘Jo’ is called across the street.

So I would urge new parents everywhere to be inventive, be creative, be daring, but be sensible and be kind, and don’t call them anything that you would not wish to be called yourself.


Joanna Rayner