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Give yourself the name you deserve

Today is Name Yourself Day. You can shake off the names you were given and inherited. You can choose a shining new appellation.

The names we use help define us. They tell a tiny story about us, to ourselves and others. Today you can rewrite yours.

I'm lucky enough to name many of my friends, because they are imaginary. I have learnt to take the greatest care: the wrong name can lead a person astray. Here are some things to think about when selecting your temporary tag:

  1. Who else has this name - do you wish to borrow their reputation, or perhaps confound comparison?

  2. How does it sound when spoken softly: like a line of poetry, a question, a promise, an insult or a complaint? Which of these do you wish to be?

  3. If it rhymes, you'll have to be hilarious all day. Do you really want that, does anyone else?

  4. Can you say it in a hurry without running out of breath, or spittling?

  5. What does it mean, in the original language or the long ago? Might that be your secret shame or inspiration?

  6. Do you wish to be serious enough for polysyllables, sweet enough for a diminutive, or mysterious enough for initials?

  7. How many do you need? More than three suggests self-indulgence, or indecision (possibly both or neither).

  8. Are you a verb, an adjective, a virtue, or a pleasure? If not, are you flora, fauna, geographical or geological?

  9. Where, in this world or another, was this name first spoken? Do you wish to represent or defy your new heritage?

  10. Does your new name bring immediate clarity about what you most want and what you must do next? The best ones do.

Hopefully, if you take this advice, none of you will accidentally spend the rest of your weekend as Mildred Beige.

If you're stumped, you may be in need of literary inspiration. I'm not going to list Charles Dickens's character names, JR Tolkien's or JK Rowling's, because you just remembered them. Here are a few of my other favourites (sources at the end of the blog):

The Prock

Lyra Belacqua aka Silvertongue

McBan to the Hundred and Fifty-First

Diggory Venn

Asenath Waite


Scout Finch

Major Major Major Major

Aomame (green peas)

Moody Spurgeon MacPherson

Holly Golightly

I'm honouring Name Yourself Day, though I've already picked a name for myself, twice. I'm happy to be a fair and wielding Cumbrian goat shed, with a hint of wren and slight association with the industrial revolution, but I do like being someone else for the day (and often am).

Today I shall be.... *kazoo fanfare*.... Queenie Beauregard. Imagine what I hope to get up to.

Who are you going to be?

Thanks to Tony Gaitskell for the image

Where the names came from, in order shown:

Last of the Really Great Wangdoodles, Julie Andrews

His Dark Materials Trilogy, Philip Pullman

Norstrilia, Cordwainer Smith (favourite pen name ever)

Return of the Native, Thomas Hardy

The thing on the Doorstep, H.P.Lovecraft (nominated by Mr G)

Midnight's Children, Salman Rushdie

To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee

Catch 22, Jospeh Heller

1Q84, Haruki Murakami

Anne of Green Gables, Lucy Maud Montgomery

Breakfast at Tiffany's, Truman Capote

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