What’s in a name

Roughly a million years ago I half-arsedly posted a list of funny things Ian says, so I could feel as though I had updated my blog and could thusly feel better about sitting on the sofa eating M&Ms (is it just me who calls these nyemnyems?). This was cheating and I knew it, and the shame has kept me away.

But now I am back.

On that note, here is a funny thing Ian said yesterday, whilst showing me pictures of flags and asking me to identify them. I am not very good at this game and had so far guessed Jamaica for each one.

“What flag is this then?”
“Jamaica?”
“No! You should know this one!”
“Oh, I don’t know.”
“Angola.”
“Angola?! Why would I know it’s Angola?”
“ANG! Like Angus! Angola!”
“Being an Angus doesn’t mean I automatically know everything that starts with Ang!”
“Well it SHOULD.”

What’s odd is that I haven’t really been an Angus very long – coming up for two years in May – whereas I was a Richardson for over 30 years, but when I see the name Amanda Richardson written down, I don’t identify with it. This is odd, because I LOVED being a Richardson. I loved how people referred to Sara and me as ‘the Richardson sisters’, as though we were a quaint 1920s all singing all dancing duo. And whilst I was relieved that Ian didn’t come attached to the unfortunate handle of ‘Prat’, ‘Shufflebottom’ or ‘Huggunkiss’,  it’s not as though I couldn’t wait to become an Angus. I didn’t practice writing my new name until I had to figure out my new signature so I could sign for stuff on honeymoon. I haven’t updated my email address. I wouldn’t even have bothered to change my passport if a friend hadn’t accidentally booked us a trip away under my married name. But to me, Amanda Angus looks right in a way Amanda Richardson never did. Even typing it just then was weird. As though I was always Amanda Angus and pretending to be someone else. This isn’t a soppy post about love, or how I was always destined to become Ian’s wife. That’s not what I mean. I just fit into Amanda Angus much better than I fit into Amanda Richardson. Perhaps that’s just growing up, or maybe it’s something else entirely. Like when people intend to name their child something ,then once it pops out, they say ‘He just didn’t look like a Harry, so we called him Tom’. How does a baby look like a Tom, but not a Harry? I was originally going to be called Grace, then when I popped out my dad took one look and said ‘That little thing is never going to be graceful. Best call her Amanda instead’. AND HE WAS RIGHT! But how could he know that from looking at my little smooshy just-born face?

Nine months after getting Barney we decided to purchase his younger sister, an ugly little chunk we named Roxie. Ian named her that because at that point we were calling Barney Bebop, and he thought we could call her Rocksteady, so they’d be like the bad guys from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Naturally I was absolutely on board with this idea, Roxie was thusly named, and before long she was ensconced in our home. Where puppy Barney had been svelte and sweet natured, she was fat and grumpy. She grumbled if you picked her up, grumbled if you put her down. She would not stop going to the bathroom inside (in fact, she’s still not 100% at this, unless you’ve offered to dogsit, in which case she’s fine). She was flea bitten and worm-ridden. I adored her immediately (still do, obvs). I took her to the vet to get her jabs. The vet, a sweet young girl who I had originally assumed was the work experience, patted her head and cooed. Roxie grumbled at her.

“She’s gorgeous, and so tiny!”
“Yes, she is,” I said proudly.
“What an angel!”
Grumble.
“I’ll just pop her on the scales and – woah! Fatty Boom Boom!”

After Roxie had been weighed, injected and cooed over some more, I attached her to the lead and walked her out to the car. “In you get, Boom Boom,” I said conversationally, and that was that – she’s never been anything but Boom Boom ever since. But from that moment, she grew slim and athletic, whilst Barney got fatter and lazier.

There is a quote from the late, great Terry Pratchett that sums that up, I think:

“The Carter parents were a quiet and respectable Lancre family who got into a bit of a mix-up when it came to naming their children. First, they had four daughters, who were christened Hope, Chastity, Prudence and Charity, because naming girls after virtues is an ancient and unremarkable tradition. Then their first son was born and out of some misplaced idea about how this naming business was done he was called Anger Carter, followed later by Jealousy Carter, Bestiality Carter and Covetousness Carter. Life being what it is, Hope turned out to be a depressive, Chastity was enjoying life as a lady of negotiable affection in Ankh-Morpork, Prudence had thirteen children, and Charity expected to get a dollar’s change out of seventy-five pence – whereas the boys had grown into amiable well-tempered men…”
(Terry Pratchett, Lords and Ladies, 1992)

Some time after the vet accidentally named Boom Boom, we went to my cousin’s wedding. The father of the bride, a friendly American man busting at the seams with pride, stood welcoming all the guests as they trooped through for the wedding breakfast.

“And you are?” he asked my sister.
“Sara,” she told him.
“Sara! And you?” he asked, shaking Sara’s hand and looking expectantly at me.
“Amanda,” I said.
“Brenda?””No, Amanda.”
“Brenda?”
“Amanda.”
“Brenda!”
“…yeah, why not,” I agreed, shaking his happy hand and ignoring the giggles from behind me.

My sister’s baby daddy still calls me Brenda. And I’m okay with that. Just like I’m okay with Mandabug, Pandapants, and very occasionally – if you’re feeling brave – even Mandy. But I think officially, I’m okay with being Amanda Angus. Partially because now my full name means ‘exceptionally strong warrior maiden worthy of being loved’ (hopefully Pratchett-logic doesn’t apply here), partially because now if you Google it you get my Journalisted page but mostly because being an Angus was part of the deal when I got to marry my best bud. Even if he does like asking me stupid questions about flags.

 

 

Thank you Di for kicking me up the butt to blog again 🙂

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