Naming your kid after an old person

You thought you were being entirely original choosing an old-fashioned name. Calling your newborn Bertie or Betty or *insert retro name here* felt timeless and classic but with a modern, ironic twist that you felt really reflected your family (ie you) perfectly. No-one else would choose that sort of name because it was so old-fashioned. It showed you weren’t afraid to takes risks, and hinted at a deep knowledge and understanding of times past. It was the baby-naming equivalent of wearing brogues.

And it’s true you have always loved old things! Aren’t you just always in the charity shops rummaging around on the hunt for vintage clothes and quirky one-off pieces? (Although we know the truth is you haven’t really been in one since you realised Topshop’s rip-off vintage stuff fits better, and doesn’t have stains in the armpits).

Whatever your rationale for naming your child after an old person, it was pretty annoying when you rocked up at Forest School with Percy in his bamboo sling to discover all the other mothers with matching Stanleys (or Billys or Ethels or Iris’s or Franks  *insert retro name*) in scratchy woollen rompers. That was the first time you realised you hadn’t been the only one with the Hope & Glory-inspired shortlist.

A few years down the line and register in your child’s reception class sounds like a whist drive at your local elderly care home. And it’s never the middle-of-the-road boring names like John or Philip or Paul. Kids either sound posh with names like Dulcie or Celia or Rafferty, or they sound like a 1950s spiv whose gran is mates with Barbara Windsor. There is no need to feel alarmed when your child asks “Can I go to Reggie and Ronnie’s for tea?” They are just two more local children with names like old people.

Turns out everyone had the same idea. Turns out that liking old stuff and wanting to be timeless and classic but modern and ironic is the curse of an entire generation. It seems we all share a weird collective nostalgia for the war and the red lipstick and the dancing and the tea dresses and the rationing. Was it because we studied it at GCSE? Are the Trevors and Gordons – heroes of the Cold War – really just a generation away?

This is the cross to bear for all our stupid-sounding kids. The same poor lambs who we force to dress like evacuees in Bonpoint and leave to play with old Fisher Price toys because they look cool, even though they are boring and shit.

Some middle class children outside a nursery yesterday
Some middle-class children outside a nursery yesterday

And now you secretly wish you’d called them something else. Something really out there like She-Ra, or even something normal like John or Jane. Anything but the same old-people’s names everyone has these days.

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