You occasionally get blog posts or ‘news’ that highlight the surprising children’s names that are beginning to crop up. You know the sort of thing, ‘Brioche tops bizarre baby name lists for 2015’ which often contain an implicit suggestion that the poor child with turn out scarred for life as a result (and if it isn’t implied in the article, it will only take about two comments before someone says that’s what will happen).
In teaching, supply teaching particularly, you encounter all sorts of names on a daily basis. Most of them are ‘normal’ names, some names are strange; Cayc (pronounced ‘Casey’, not ‘Cake’), some names have clearly been given to a child through some cultural mis-understanding (I once taught a boy called Timotei and a friend knew two siblings called Sainsburys and Waitrose because the parents wanted to pick something that sounded English). And some names are just unfortunate through no fault of the parents; I once taught a girl called ‘Isis’. With the best intentions, she was probably named after what the Thames is called as it meanders through Oxford. How very English. Instead, due to the unfortunate timing of world politics, her parents now look like terrorist sympathisers.
I reported her and her family to the local Prevent officer just to be on the safe side.
However, last week, I taught a child with an unforgivable name and who’s parents had no justifiable excuse to give to the child. Last week, I taught Iain Duncan Smith.
This was a child in Y1. The ‘real’ Iain Duncan Smith has been a political name for a long time, since well before the child was conceived, (not like Jeremy Hunt or Nicky Morgan for example, who have risen to infamy in the last 5 years or so) and the school is in an affluent, middle class area (potentially, a bit Conservative), so I can not imagine a situation whereby his parents were not aware of who the ‘real’ Iain Duncan Smith was when their child was born or that they gave their son the same name through some unfortunate labour ward, baby-brain, birth certificate confusion.
Maybe naming their child Iain Duncan Smith was an obscure act of defiance but even if your surname was Smith and, ever since you were of child-baring age, the name Iain Duncan fills you with admiration and conviction that the person who bares that title will be an honourable and kind-hearted individual (even if, in your heart of hearts, you also believe those are the qualities of our former Work and Pensions Secretary), the existence of the ‘real’ Iain Duncan Smith negates all of that. The only outcome of naming your child Iain Duncan Smith is that you, as parents, come across as strange sycophants with a really weird and specific celebrity obsession. That, and a child with a ridiculous name.
And to prove that this works across the political spectrum, if your surname was Milliband, would you call your son Ed? If you were Mr and Mrs Clegg, would you name your firstborn Nick? And if you had the more prosaic surname of Brown, how would you feel introducing your 6 year old by saying “This is Gordon Brown”?
Maybe Iain Duncan Smith’s parents were hoping that the ‘real’ Iain Duncan Smith would fade into obscurity as their child grew up (but considering they named him after a former leader of the Conservative party, that seems a bit rash).
Thinking that if I’d been named after a well known politician of the era, maybe time would have dulled the collective memory and the average layperson would not make the link, I randomly checked who the Shadow Education Secretary was when I was born, only to find it was Neil Kinnock. To save me the trouble, can you just make up your own satirical comment that suits your own political leanings?
Some names have been changed to protect the innocent victims of these heinous crimes.
P.S. If you liked this post, please continue to use air parenthesis and the word ‘real’ whenever you mention Iain Duncan Smith.