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If you watched the previous two of these
with the diligent care which I request and require,
you will be fully warned against the folly
of trying to express your uniqueness
either in your stag night or your wedding.
Now, we come to the big one.
There may well come a time when you and your partner
seek to launch a new type of person you have created.
To do this, you will be required
to come up with a name for them.
Unless you are a writer, a shipwright,
or an Ikea furniture designer,
you may well never have been required
to name a thing before, bar the odd pet.
It will seem like an enormous decision...
and one to which you ought surely to bring
a little of the creativity for which you are
so admired amongst your friends.
After all, you yourself are a wildly unique
and special person, and so,
to a lesser extent, is your partner.
Naturally, you may think, the result of a union
between two such unusual or unique individuals
requires an unusual or unique name;
so that everyone they encounter
will immediately understand the levels
of one-of-a-kindness they're dealing with here.
Time to ditch the solid workaday Toms and Sarahs,
and search instead the baby books,
obscure apocryphal gospels,
and local take-away menus
for something appropriately bespoke.
Do not, under any circumstances, do this.
For a start, names aren't, fundamentally
-ت and I know I'll get angry letters from branding experts
on disgustingly over-designed writing paper,
for saying this, but still -
they're not fundamentally very important.
It's amazing what you can get used to in a name.
For instance, I've personally never been that crazy about
the name of the Channel Four sitcom Peep Show.
I mean, it's fine, but a 'peep show'; sounds a bit sexy,
and taken along with the late night slot on Channel Four,
the first time viewer would not be unreasonable to expect titillation,
which seems to me writing a cheque with the title
which the content, of constant footage of two pallid men
in their thirties ageing in real time,
will emphatically fail to honour.
Why not follow the example of Frasier or Fawlty Towers,
and call it the thing that's the main thing in it?
In Peep Show's case, I suppose, 'Mark and Jez'.
Or 'The Two Men'.
But as I say, it doesn't really matter because
as soon as you get used to a name,
you stop noticing it altogether,
whether it be mildly misleading, like Peep Show,
or wrenchingly clunky and awful,
like 'Have I Got News For You!' or 'Strictly Come Dancing'.
Ridiculous and off-putting the first few times you heard them,
but now simply the name for that thing,
as unremarkable as The Six O'Clock News
or Gardeners' World.
But people, unlike TV shows, are not simply
unveiled once, and then allowed
to seep into the national consciousness.
People have to introduce themselves again and again,
at every stage of their lives.
All the more vital to suppress your understandable
but ultimately vain and self-defeating
desire to demonstrate the uniqueness of your child.
Of course he or she is unique - everyone's unique.
But take a step back, and that's as irrelevant
a distinction as the one between snowflakes.
The truly exceptional - the snowflake that's red -
is in the eye of the beholder,
and you don't convince anyone they have encountered it
just by naming your child Sunshine or SpaceVixen.
Or indeed Snowflake.
It's bad enough for people with mildly unusual
or connotation-laden names.
Everyone has an idea of what a Tarquin is like,
and that must be a millstone round the neck of
all the Tarquins who aren't like that,
and whose friends constantly have to explain:
'He's called Tarquin, but he's actually quite a normal bloke.'
Whereas 'normal-bloke-itude',
or rather a certain pressure-relieving colourlessness
should surely be what parents are aiming for.
To do otherwise seems arrogant,
controlling, or just plain cruel.
Why give, or make up, a name,
which will ensure everyone who first meets them
will have strong preconceptions about them,
when there are so many names to choose from
with little or no baggage?
(except for all of our own private irrational
feelings that, say, Simons are self-absorbed,
Andrews are short or Lisas are trouble).
And picking such a name certainly doesn't mean
your child is condemned to stolidity
- after all, a Richard can always become a Ringo
in later life, if he wishes..
but then again a John, Paul or George
can stick with their stolid colourless names
and not noticeably suffer from failing to be called
Jongo, Pongo or Gingo.