"Charlie is not a name anyway," she told me, "Well, I suppose people think it is but really it has to be short for Charles or something like that. Mine is just a girl's way of spelling a boy's name."
Her own name is sometimes a problem for her. It sounds like a boy's name but it is a combination of her father's name and her mother's name. Her father now agrees that it was "probably not that sensible". It was given to her with good intentions and she does not dislike it "because it reminds me of my Mum and otherwise I would not remember her properly".
One of my sisters has a similar problem with her second name in that the spelling is what is usually considered the masculine form of a name that can be given to either a male or a female. It is the spelling that was given to my mother whose own second name was the same. Her first name was a common one for the day but the spelling was different. It caused constant problems. My mother should have known better than to pass such problems on.
The Whirlwind went on reading and then asked,
"Why would you want to call your baby what everyone else was calling theirs? It's like you want them to be the same as everyone else or you don't care or something."
And that is a good question too. I know three men called "John Smith". All of them have come face to face with other men who bear the same name. I know two women called "Mary Jones" too, although one of them married a man called Jones and took his name.
The couple across the road from us have grandchildren. Two of the little girls have, in keeping with their Irish heritage, been given Irish-Gaelic names. Their grandmother was delighted when I recognised the names for what they are and could even spell them. Their names will cause problems because people here will not be able to spell them or know how to pronounce them unless they have come across them before, have an interest in Irish literature or something similar. Nevertheless they were chosen with care and respect.
Only my youngest sister was given names my parents chose because they happened to like them. They are not unusual but they were not the flavour of the month at her birth either. The rest of us have names chosen for specific reasons.
I do wonder though at parents who choose a name which is popular. Do they really like it? Do they want their child to be one of many? Are they doing it because it has a family association? Does it really go well with their surname? Is there something other than the popularity which appeals to them? Is the naming of their child not important - or something they feel others should dictate?
There has apparently been a rash of Jack, William, Noah, Ethan, Oliver, Thomas, Lucas, James, Cooper and Jackson in the past year. Little girls have apparently been named Charlotte, Ruby, Lily, Olivia, Chloe, Sophie, Emily, Mia, Amelia and Ava.
I suppose they are not likely to embarrass their recipients but they might sometimes wonder who the teacher is addressing.