Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Nomination rumination

I don't really like my name. Actually, change that. I've got no real problem with my name, but I can't stand a lot of the associations it has. I remember when I was a teenager, there were about eight Tory Tims in the House of Commons, and no Labour. This was also the era of Timothy Lumsden in the sitcom Sorry ("Language, Timothy!"), who then gave way to Harry Enfield's Tim Nice-But-Dim, in turn supplanted by Tim ("Come on, Tim!") Henman. In fiction and real life alike, the name seems to be a shorthand either for right-wing venality or middle-class ineffectiveness.

Of course, there are cool Tims: Messrs Roth and Berners-Lee are two you'd happily buy a pint for. But whenever I introduce myself, I always wonder whether people picture me with a big poster of Margaret Thatcher on my bedroom ceiling.

It could be worse, of course. I could be a Cuthbert or a Vivian. And if I really hated my given name, I'd make the effort of changing it. I did go through a very brief phase of calling myself "Baz" (short for Sebastian, since you ask), and I've used a number of pseudonyms for writing facetious letters to the music press. I've considered using my middle name, but it's rather common (in the mathematical, rather than socio-economic sense); there are at least two Jameses in my blogroll alone. I keep coming back to Tim, because, well, it's my name, like. And my parents chose it, and they're seldom wrong about anything (except for a brief flirtation with hessian wallpaper in the early 1980s).

But let's throw this one to the wolves of nomenclature. If I actually made a determined effort to change my name, what should it be? And what about yours?


Geoff said...

My grandad was called Tim. His real name was Walter but everybody called him Tim. His cat was called Tim too. It's not exclusively middle class.

My name is usually associated with Geoffrey Bubbles Bom Bom. Or Geoffrey Howe.

Vic sounds like a good name for you, Tim. I don't know any Vics. I quite like Ralph for myself (pronounced 'Raphe').

red said...

Until the advent of the internet I thought my parents invented my (real) name. They told me so when I was really young and I just carried on believing them until my sister found a definition for it on the net and they had to confess that they hadn't invented it at all.

Anonymous said...

I think you'd be a much better David than a Tim. You'd be a David who likes to be known as David. You'd say, "Please don't call me Dave," when people called you Dave.

I'd like to use my middle name too, and have flirted with the idea for 37 years, and occasionally use it when I have to give it to furriners for quick reference (shouting out your name in a cafe to say your waffle's ready, that sort of thing). No-one died of shock, so perhaps it's still doable.

Anonymous said...

Bugger, hope that worked. This OpenID thing is new to me (but looks good if it's worked).

Rosie said...

people often call me Gráinne or Sinéad, because apparently i look like a Gráinne or a Sinéad.

i am neither. people are idiots.

Anonymous said...

My dear sir, I can only dream of having your dilema as my Christian name (in the non-baptismal sense) has been something of a burden since coming to the States.

I would think that for the written word, Timothy would be quite nice to see in print. In practice, the only connotation that Tim conjures up in my mind is from Python:

Arthur: What manner of man are you that you can summon up fire without flint or tinder?
Tim: I... am an enchanter.
Arthur: By what name are you known?
Tim: There are some who call me... 'Tim'?
Arthur: ...greetings, Tim the Enchanter.

But, were I to rename you something other than Tim, I would choose something a bit rogue-like or man-about-town like Dirk or Klaus or 'The Colonel'

Tim F said...

Was the cat really called Tim, Geoff, or was it actually another Walter? Ralph I like, but it would have to be pronounced 'Rafe', as you say, and I'd get fed up with explaining that it wasn't like him out of Happy Days, or Harry Cross's mate from Brookside. Vic? Nah.

That's almost like finding out you're adopted, Red. Or not adopted, as the case may be.

David works, Pleite. You're right, not Dave (although I've known some splendid Daves, it's just not me). Ooh yeah, Open ID with moderation. The suspense...

But what do you look like, Rosie? Not a Dave, presumably.

This is vaguely relevant:

Tim F said...

And Klaus is good, Rimshot. Best so far.

Anonymous said...

What about Mark? (for you, not me obviously). Or Gilbert? (shortened to Gil).

You are definitely NOT a Kevin.

I'd like to be known by my first name, having used my middle name for my entire life. Although Marsha is growing on me too(so to speak).

Rog said...

Gonzo N. Footman would have a nice ring to it, but Michael Footman has the right gravitas with a geordie tinge.

Anyway you could have done worse - try labouring under the "Roger" mantle of sleazy saloon bar lotharios!

Billy said...

I'm a big fan of the name "Jeff Fannybanana" but that's just me.

Betty said...

Howzabout Troy?

I may well change my name to Debz.

Tim F said...

Marsha just makes me think of The Brady Bunch, Marsha. Gilbert I rather like. Gives you not only the cool, jazzy Gil, but also the steady, tuba-playing Bert. Jekyll and Hyde in one name.

Thanks, Murph, but "Michael Footman" has already been taken by a better man than I.

That's odd. Jeff Fannybanana thinks "Billy" is the worst name in the world.

I prefer Debz to Troy, to be honest, Betty.

FirstNations said...


tell everyone it's a tribute to your favorite Namibian actor. They'll all go 'OOOOoooooo.'

amyonymous said...

I like the name i gave my son (who isn't sure he likes it but then he's a teenager). His name is Rylan (also sometimes spelled Ryland) and is Ry for short. As in Ry Cooder. I like any names connected to music. You, Tim, would be a good Keith.

me, I'm happy with Amy, although in my teenage years, I wanted to be Amanda. Oddly, the Stones had a song - Miss Amanda Jones - and my name was (pre-marriage) Amy Jones. It was all quite heady at the time!

more than you wanted to know. Keith.

Rosie said...

no, i don't look like a Dave. i think i probably look like my real name, which is mildly disappointing.

i'd rather look like a Penelope. she sounds like she might have bigger breasts.

9/10ths Full of Penguins said...

I think Jack would be good. It has a slightly devil-may-care air to it. It also comes without the Tory baggage about which you are most concerned.

On a personal level I've always wanted to be called Robert. Not sure why...

Annie said...

Fatboy Slim puzzles me. He was born Quentin, hated it, changed it to Norman, and then went and named himself "Fatboy".

I think if you're going to change your name (twice!) it should be something flattering. If you ever meet him, Tim, please can you ask him about this.

Tim F said...

Can't I make the '!' a '?', FN?

And Amy, surely that's 'Keef'?

It's quality, not quantity, Rosie, remember that. Breasts, I mean.

There was a Tory Jack, 9/10: Profumo. Described after he died as 'Not a bad man, but a good man who did a bad thing'. Which I kinda like.

Mr Fatboy has also been Pizzaman and the Mighty Dub Katz, among several others, Annie.

llewtrah said...

I changed my name by deed poll (my surname rather than my first name). Jeff Fannybanana ought to consider doing this.

Jun Okumura said...

rosie: I don't think Penelope Footman works. Yet. If you ask me, he should settle for Evelyn. Or Shirley.

BTW, I got a Valentine card from a boy in first grade. Too young to figure out the missing "e" at the end of my name. Or he was gay. Whatever.

Anonymous said...

Imagine being called Max Gogarty.
Imagine being Max Gogarty.

Fat Roland said...

With that Lolita article in mind, you should plump for Humbert.

Anyone who goes under a name like Fatboy deserves a good talking to...

Tim F said...

Llewtrah: I want to change my name *to* Deed Poll. It sounds like a Dutch action hero.

Gay *and* semi-literate, Jun? Him, I mean, not you.

Give me a call when you get here, Max. If you haven't been lynched.

Fat R: I always preferred Erkan.

Istvanski said...

Deed Poll sounds like a Glaswegian football ref that has passed away.

People have been on at me to change my real name for ages, but I quite like Lucien Von Pumperloaf.

Tim F said...

I like Lucien von Pumperloaf as well, but it makes me bilious.

Sylvia said...

what's your problem? You should try being called Sylvia. About 20 years ago, it was voted the most unsexy name in America. Well, at least the name suits me in that respect.
And that flipping song by Dr Hook and the Medicine Show! Why is it always about my mother?
It's funny, but in France and Italy, Sylvie and Silvia are quite respectable, but here, it does rather give the impression of an embittered old hag with a cigartette hanging out of the side of her mouth.
Oops. Right again. Except for the cigartette, of course.