One of things that had been decided in advance was the name with which the child would be adorned. Denis and Joyce had set down a number of rules. 1 – there would be no middle name. 2 – they did not want a name that could be shortened further, and by abstraction, rule 3 – the name would be short in length. No Ed instead of Edward; no Jon rather than Jonathan. The two final options that had been settled on before I saw the light of day were Jan and Ian, girl or boy – names which clearly met the third requirement. Over the years, I was to discover that the inventiveness of children and young people would find a way around the second rule (would you believe ‘I’, pronounced ‘Eee’?), and that between the ages of 11 and 22 or so, Ian was the last thing some of my closest friends would call me.
The first rule was, if I’m honest, something of a sore point. For a number of years – and certainly when we lived in Portsmouth, so before I was ten – I used to wish I had a middle name. I felt a little deprived somehow, denuded of choice, robbed of some kind of status. I would try and imagine the name I would most like to sandwich between those I had already. ‘George’ usually scored highly for some reason. Elsewhere in our family – in my Mother’s aspirational kith and kin – they had solved this problem for their male offspring by delving further back into our family tree where they alighted on my great grandmother, a short Scottish lass of around four foot six who had married a large Canadian gentleman of well over six feet. Her familial name had been Moncrieff. It made a fine moniker as a middle name. Very distinctive! So part of me played with that as an option for a while, even though it wasn’t; and in any case it would never have been something my father would have countenanced, let alone understood.