Sunday, 15 April 2012

Poncey Names Alert

The Waterbabies
Okay I have to admit this and I know its not right, its not clever but it is what it is.  I am not a snobby person by nature, I am not racist, I am not bigoted, I am not malicious and I am not a Tory. I like to think I am a 'Doasyouwouldbedoneby' type of person. I've pinched this from the book and film of the same name - The Waterbabies. I think people would say, generally speaking, I am a good egg. 

But and it is a big BUT I do make an immediate assumption on the mother that calls out the name of her child in public. I can't help it. I'm sure I'm not the only one and its not very right on to admit that I name judge. Yes I will judge you purely on what you have chosen to call your child. How warped is that?!

Take the other day for instance. I am at the check out in Sainsbury's, my two are sitting waiting at the end of the check out and buddy (that's not his real name before you say "you can bloody well talk!") is in the pushchair.  The woman behind me calls out "Penelope, "Penelope please come here my darling". Penelope is not a day over three years old. My first thought asides from thinking I was in Waitrose was  "oh for goodness sake not another poncy middle class name!"

There all the rage aren't they? You know the type of name I'm talking about - names like Monty, Arabella, Prudence etc. I've just thought of that one - it will probably top the charts some time soon.  When I was pregnant with our third I said what about "Constance?" I like Connie Booth who plays Peggy in Fawlty Towers and was married to John Cleese.  My husband just looked at me. I then imagined shouting out "Constance" in the supermarket and I quickly put it in the poncy list together with Austin.

In the same week that Penelope was shopping in Sainsbury's my friend and I were in the park when a man came up - oh no that's Charley and I were in the park! The mother was calling out (they don't shout like a fishwife like me) "Victoria", "Alexander". We both chuckled that there's no way their names would ever get shorten to Vicky or Alex anytime soon.  So what's it all about?

Are the poncey names any worse than the aspiring to be a celeb names i.e Destiny, Chanel and the like? No not really. They're all trying to make a statement. The statement is about aspiring to be something. What that something is I suspect is to do with material aspirations.  Most middles as they're called now started out life in working class territory (except my husband who's family aspired to live in a council house - he jokes!).  I would be deemed as middle class I'm sure.  We live in a nice spacious house, I am a stay at home mum and my husband is self-employed. But I'm not. I hail from a working class background and I'm not looking to be poncey and pretentious which I find a lot of middles are.

The irony is that the Uppers have far less poncy names and are a lot less pretentious in general. They usually have the same 4 or 5 names that frequently appear down the family tree - John, Edward, Harry, George and William.

My sisters are into horse riding and they say that you can always tell the new money, the show boaters who want to let you know they've spent thousands on a horsebox but the seriously wealthy turn up in old battered boxes. The point being is that even if you've made it you can tell someones class a mile off. The seriously wealthy probably have more in common with the working classes than they do with the middles.  Wouldn't it be lovely if there were no class divide but that's never going to happen is it.

Or maybe I've got it all wrong and by giving your child a poncy name as I would call it - the parents would call it a classic name - it means the child will live up to the aspirations of their parents and will do even better than them. After all how did the uppers become uppers in the first place?

Now I must go and put Tarquin to bed......


  1. I flinch when I hear the names being given to some poor kids now. But what I hate even more is when they take an normal name but change the spelling to make it more unique thus giving the poor child a lifetime of having to correct other people's attempts at spelling their name. My son's name has been reasonably popular for many, many years. It's a nice normal one and I have no issue with it being shortened.

  2. I hate the class system to be honest and I refuse to label myself as middle class or anything else. We are all just people.

    We are all human too and I think most of us chcukle at somone else's choice of names for their kids. My children all have classic names but they all get shortened to a more livable version.

    Mich x

  3. Fun post. there are so many dreadful names out there = Chloe? Cosmo? Bruno? The best that can be said is that these children will struggle hard to overcome the handicap of their name and will probably do well - unlike the Tracy's and Jaden's of this world

  4. Yes agree sometimes the parent doesn't think about that aspect - having to spell it out their whole adult life. Michelle we are all just people but many do consider themselves to be superior to others and sadly there is a lot of snobbery around. I don't see how that will change whilst we are still an 80 plus woman's subjects! Two of my children have what I would describe as normal solid names. One does not. Her name could be perceived as borderline poney or borderline celeb. Its not a common name at all and she is the only one I know of that has this name. I pretty sure people judge me when I call it out! I think its beautiful and decided on it when I was 14 years old. And I suppose ultimately what does it matter what I think or anyone else thinks. P.s I do initially make a quick calculation on what the person is like based on the name but it certainly wouldn't stop me from forming a friendship or anything else. Afterall most of my friends/family are raving Tories. I still love them but just accept I am right and they are wrong! xx

  5. Carole - you've really be stiched up like a kipper with the name Tracy and dare I mention my sister's name........ Sharon!! She is still pissed off with it now aged 40. She says how did I get lumbered with that. My mum maintains it wasn't popular at the time (it was so common in the 1970's) and she was named after the murdered Sharon Tate! x

  6. This made me laugh!

    I never told you before that I worked as a registrar of births deaths and marriages until 18 months ago.. and boy have I "heard 'em all"!

    I winced at awful names, stifled a guffaw at many, felt sorry for kids saddled at birth with dreadful monikers (or initials!). Nearly wet myself when a dad had to check how to spell his own definitely poncey name on his belly tattoo.

    Funny though that my own two lads have "heart of oak" style names from your upper class list.
    My parents both left school at 14. Working class.

    By the way...... my middle name is Penelope :)))))

  7. Sorry Ruth Penelope!! Yes I knew you worked at the registrar remember the you're old if you're 70 post! Glad to hear you didn't go down the poncey route! Thanks for commenting xx