Monday, November 01, 2004

Good Day Bluebell Wednesday

Bluebell Wednesday is a little girl who lives on a boat on the Thames, so close to the centre of London that every morning she awakes to its chimes.

Bluebell has a mummy called Amy, a daddy called Jamie  and  thirteen aunts and uncles.

Amy and three of her sisters - Rosie, Gita and  Edith -  get together from time to time to play in their quartet called the Dirty Pretty Strings.

Bluebell Wednesday's eldest aunt, Lakshmi lives in the Peak district of England where she looks after lots of funny little children who speak with strange northern accents. Her aunt Edith is fifteen years old and goes to the Lady Manners school on Castle Hill. One day you will see Edith on the stage as she will become a famous actress.

I grew up in Australia with Bluebell Wednesday's maternal grandmother. Her name is Di. Her brother is Gary. We had friends with names like Sue, Helen and Julie. I was called Katie back then. I  hated my name as it was an unusual name at that time. I wanted to be called Susan.

When Di and I  grew up and had our children it was the seventies. I had a dog called Sunday. If I hadn't already used that name I would have called my firstborn "Sunday". Instead I called her Ebon. Di's first children were twins -  Dara and  Lakshmi. Our more conservative friends named their children James, Daniel, Emily, Cecily, Matthew, Lucy, Simon and Penny. Not even for them the staid names of our parents' generation.

My expat friends named their children Yarra and Ned. My brother, whose name is Timothy, had friends who called their children names like Daffodil and Sunshine.

People in the country were calling their sons "Jaidyn" and their daughters "Kylie" and Kirrillee". And through all this, the ever-reliable Australian  working class families were still bearing Trevors and Waynes.

At the turn of the century when the Lakshmis and Sukis were reproducing, rebellion set in with babies being named Jack, Jessica, Thomas, Emma,  Joshua, Sarah, William, Emily , Michael, Jasmine and John.

I am now in America where people in the Blue areas are naming their children  Emily, Michael, Christopher and Sara. In the Red areas they   prefer Chelsea, Tiffany, Brittany, Conner, Madison and Taylor.

My daughter  Ebon  is now an adult. She loves her name and goes by her given name only. Not for Ebon a family name. Like Cher she is mono-monikered. The only time her name caused her any pain was once at a hippie festival when there was an announcement over the load speaker for an "Ebon" to come to the stage. She thought there was another one and was devastated. Fortunately it turned out she'd misheard and the announcer was saying Evan. Two "Ebons"? ASIF!

I wonder how much one's name influences our paths through life. I always think that if I'd have been a Sue I would have been more stable. I think I would have lived in the leafy suburbs and married an accountant. My car would have been a Volvo and I would have joined the local tennis club.

Sometimes people change their names to fit what they want to be. The twins I knew who were born in 1974 and named Zero and Chaos, changed their names in the late eighties to Mac and John. My elderly aunt Nell came into her own at eighty and changed to Eleanor to be more dignified. My mum's first name was Christina but they made a mistake at her new school when she was ten and called her Hazel. She was too shy to correct the teacher so she became known to Hazel to all but her mother and sisters. I am sure I used to see a personality change  when she switched between the names. With her sisters she was demure as she  answered dutifully   to the name "Chris". Quite a change from  the sarcastic and somewhat bitter Hazel that she became   in the company of her friends.

When I was about sixteen and wanted to be like Simone de Beauvoir or Glenda Jackson, I changed from Katie to Kate. A secret part of me however, still yearned to be Susan.

When my children were very small, I used to spend a lot of time  with my friend  Margaret. She had young babies too. We'd practice referring to them by other names to see if our inner image of them altered. I remember Margaret going over to Ebon in her bouncinette saying, "Pamela, do you want milk? Pamela! Good sweet little Pamela!" But no way could we get our minds around Ebon as a Pamela! ASIF!

Nowadays most of the  interesting names I hear belong  the babies of my black friends. "Asia" and "Africa" are lovely names. My white friends have grandchildren called Hannah and Amelia. No more the Zeros and Cosmos. Not even a Suki or a Polly. And certainly no Ruby Tuesdays

And so it was with joy and hope that I heard of the birth of Bluebell Wednesday.

A belated welcome to this world little Bluebell.

Soon you'll be able to hear your mum play the cello as part of her quartet, "The Dirty Pretty Strings". You'll be able to run around on the banks of the Thames, loved and admired by Lakshmi and Gita, your aunts. Your grandma Di and your great uncle Gary will shower you with love and gifts. When you go to school you will shine and outshine the Sarahs and the Williams. And later, you will still be out partying when Big Ben chimes midnight. You will never be a dedicated follower of fashion. You will make your own indelible and colorful mark on the dreary grey of London town.

Bluebell Wednesday, the world is your oyster!

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