I must admit, I was a little bit disappointed when I heard through the media grapevine the name of the newest member of the Royal Family. I hadn’t really expected anything too exciting – after all Will and Kate aren’t exactly poster children for their quirky style and radical departure from the status quo. Contrary to what the Daily Mail would have you believe, marrying a woman who spent most of her formative years in the most prestigious private boarding schools in the country, and whose parents are multi millionaires is NOT marrying a ‘commoner’. Neither is shopping at Reiss one step towards a Bolshevik revolution, Kate. Once you’re caught wearing a polyurethane Primark handbag, then you’re really down with the peeps. (Harry, if you want to be really radical – call me. I’m black. And I went to a private day school a half hour drive from Peckham. Now that’s marrying a commoner..)
So the Prince and his commoner Duchess decided to be as pedestrian as Oxford Street, and call their first child… George. Personally, I was rooting for something would show that they were trying to bond with the working class during this period of austerity – maybe Tyler or Conner – you know, recession style chic? Almost like the Queen knitting socks for soldiers during the war. Alas, it was not to be. To be fair to Will, he’d already gone far enough marrying Kate, and he probably didn’t want to condemn his unfortunate mongrel offspring to a lifetime of ridicule from his pure bred cousins.
So what’s in a name? A lot apparently. Katie Hopkins (of Apprentice fame) came under fire recently for saying she wouldn’t want her children to play with kids called Chantelle, Chardonnay, Tyler or Charmaine. She said “For me, a name is a shortcut of finding out what class a child comes from and makes me ask: “Do I want my children to play with them?” Now at face value, her comment is ridiculous, classist and egregious. (Google egregious – it’s a great word, I didn’t know what it meant till a couple days ago). But when I thought about it I realised that unfortunately, although I am a textbook Guardian reading left winging (most of the time) liberal, I slightly understand where she’s coming from.
When I was doing my Obs and Gynae (Mums and Babies and Women’s bits) block at uni, there was definitely a correlation between the social class of the mother and the name she gave the baby. Middle class stay at home Mums who have home births and shop at Waitrose, just don’t call their children Tyler. They might give him a ridiculous name like Tarquin. Hippy vegan Mums who do yoga instead of using an epidural are likely to name their children after a numerical value (Seven), a piece of fruit (Apple), or an element (Flame, Sky etc). ‘Afrocentric’ type Mums who are secretly snobby (me), will not call their first born son De’Andre, but definitely won’t hesitate to call him Oluwafemi. I do make judgements on people based on their names. Sure, my judgements are usually mild, and easily dispelled, but I do all the same. If your name is Septimus, I will assume that you are an upper middle class snob devoid of a sense of reality. I’ll still be polite to you though. Likewise, I’ve never envisaged bringing home someone called Tyrone and introducing him to my parents as my fiance. Which is actually ridiculous, because the one Tyrone I know is a perfectly upstanding member of society, devoid of cornrows and a criminal record. Before him, I didn’t personally know any Tyrone’s’, so it was nonsensical for me to make any judgement… but I did.
This is definitely a problem, but unfortunately a reality, and Apprentice woman is maybe just saying what too many of us are too cowardly to admit. Black people are especially notorious for making fun of ‘ghetto’ names because they’re ‘made up’ names. Clearly, after a two second examination, this is a stupid argument, because all names are made up names. Duh. It’s really just the black middle class being embarrassed of the black working class and wanting to disassociate ourselves from them as much as possible.
There’s only one solution to this…we need to de-stigmatise these names. Make a pact with me on this day, that at least one of your children will be given a ghetto fabulous or common name. If you’re white, be double daring and call your son Jermaine. Then send him to Durham to study History of Art. If you’re proudly working class, call your son Benedict- yeah that’s right – make that name common as mud. Perhaps I should call my daughter Bonquisha. She’ll go to Oxford, study PPE and be the first black female Prime Minister. Take that Katie Hopkins.