Second names

While I was writing last night’s post, the Sage came in the room for a chat – which was a pleasure of course, but distracting.  I quite forgot what was to have been my last example of name changing.

We were having dinner with friends, Alan and Sophie, some years ago, and her mother was about to move to a nursing home in the village.  Sophie told us not to be surprised that her mother would call her Janet, she being the only person who had not accepted her change of name.

Sophie was a nurse when Alan first spotted her, and he heard another nurse refer to her as Sister Sophie Ward.  He invited her on a date and, during the course of the evening, called her Sophie.  As you do.  Sophie explained that, at the hospital, each sister was called by the name of the ward she (probably she in each case) was in charge of, rather than by her own name.  Alan mulled it over.  “Actually, I think of you as Sophie.  The name suits you much better than Janet.”  Sophie agreed and that’s what she became.  This could, of course, be one of the most charmingly romantic things one could imagine or a bit of real control-freakery, that a man choose his wife’s name.  Actually, it was the former.

As for me, I quite often get called Sophie, or sometimes Chloë.  Even among those who remember my name, it’s not unknown for me to be Zo or Zo-zo.  A few of those who know me from here call me Zed. And, as for the name I called myself before I was two years old, it was Dodo.  But the only person who ever continued with that was my mother, and that was probably an affectionate link to her oldest friend, who had similarly been unable to cope with Josephine as a baby, but with whom the nickname had stuck.

13 comments on “Second names

  1. Z

    The Sage was quite flattered when he found that was what I’d called him. And Dandelion always calls me Zed. Call me whatever you prefer. One friend calls me Grandma. Another, Ayatollah.

  2. Z

    I heard her being retrospectively introduced (I suppose there’s a word for that, but I can’t think of it) this morning on Radio 4 and I did do a bit of a WTF?, I must say. And then there’s Jo (or Joe) King. Weeza and Phil have a surname that is ripe for that sort of thing and are very careful about the names they give to their children.

  3. Alienne

    My younger daughter could not cope with her sister’s long and hard to pronounce name when she was small so she just called her ‘sister’. I called them Boo and Titch when they were small; now I think of them as Lenin and Attila (their blog names) more frequently – they are surprisingly appropriate names!

  4. Z

    There is still one, John. She lives near Weymouth and she will be 99 years old later this month. I’m an extinct Dodo though. Or possibly a melted Snowflake.

    Georgie, it could have been worse. Though not much.

    I used to know an old lady whose real name was Blanche but, because her little sister couldn’t say that, had been called Sis all her life. I take it that you have never told your daughters about your blog!

  5. Mike and Ann

    When our youngest daughter was eight she decided she was no longer Deborah (her first name) but Elizabeth (her second name). She, being a strong willed young lady (not sure that isn’t tautology again) effected the changeover by only ever answering to her chosen name. It worked in less than a month. With one exception – her great gandmother, who was equally strong willed and called her Deborah for the rest of her life (Great Grandmother’s that is – Liz is still going strong and very few people now remember her first name).

  6. Roses

    It was my cousins who shortened my name to Roses when I was growing up. My dad used to call me Ro, in my mother’s earshot to wind her up (they were divorced, can’t you tell?), my ex-husband and niece are the only people allowed to call me Rosie. Though it seems, there are quite a few people trying to get away with it at the moment.

    I loved Alan and Sophie’s first date story.

  7. luckyzmom

    I just realized that to you Z is Zed, which I first heard from my stepfather’s Canadian children when they visited us when I was in elementary school. In my head you are Zee or Zoe.


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