Sunday, August 15, 2010
I have always known that I was not meant to be called Phyllis. When my parents got pregnant in May 1967, they informed my four grandparents that no child would be named in any way after them: Jean, Matthew, Phyllis or William. Of course things shifted slightly when my fifty year old grandmother was diagnosed in the September with a terminal illness - it shifted to a remote possibility at that point. And I assume if she'd lived till March or April of 1968, my life would have been very different. But as it was she died on the Tuesday before I was born (on the Sunday). My Phyllis/non-Phyllis status was, I always assumed, sealed at that moment. But during dinner with my parents on Friday, I was told for the first time in my life that I actually wore name tags for my entire stay at the maternity hospital sporting the name Linda Buchanan!
As a shy child, I hated being a Phyllis in the early 70s. I yearned to be a Karen or Gillian like the other duplicates in my class, wanting to hide in the anonymity rather than standing out like an eternal freak. I was asked by the class clown more than once why I didn't have a blue rinse - I was not amused :-(
In 2007 I had to pay to change my name by deed poll because my divorce was not going to be through in time for me to give Anna my surname. It was strange to hold in my hand a piece of paper with a blank box asking me to fill in what I wanted to be called - changing to Phyllis Buchanan cost the same as it would have cost to give myself a whole new first name and middle name (something I'd always resented not having, given my brother had one). I still disliked Phyllis but I couldn't choose anything else because you don't name yourself. The only people who could have changed my name by deed poll to something else were my parents, so I found myself ironically paying not to change first name or add a middle name - odd... I don't really like it, but it is me all the same.
It is funny how many other people that has affected too. My younger brother was given the middle name Henderson to pacify my mum's mother who had been upset that I'd been given my dad's mum's name and only this week my new nephew was named Henderson too to carry on that tradition. I wonder what Derek and Alasdair's middle names would have been had they had a sister or auntie named Linda instead of Phyllis?