The question mark symbolises the collective raising of eyebrows that greeted the announcement of the names chosen by the Beckhams for their newborn daughter.
What is it about celebrities that drives them to seek out increasingly bizarre names for their offspring? Is it a status thing – the mark of having made it? Is it a wish to be the topic of conversation at society parties? Are they bribed by magazine editors to be more outrageous than their peers? Imagine calling the morning register in a Hollywood school!
Where do these parents look for inspiration? It seems that some have turned to other languages or cultures, such as Hebrew, Arabic or Scandinavian. Others have delved into mythology or ancient history. The Beckhams famously named their first child after the place where he was conceived – Brooklyn. This is not generally a recommended method for choosing a name!
For their most recent choice they chose an uncomplicated source – numerals. They began at One. But this was not unique. It was already in use by Prince William’s gran. Slowly they progressed to Seven. This was a number David recognised well from his glory days with Manchester United. So Seven was the choice.
Now, choosing a name might be an interesting diversion, a bit of fun, for the parents, but the child has to live with the name day in and day out and must cope with whatever reaction the name evokes. The youngest Beckham, when in her teens, will not enjoy introducing herself by announcing ‘Hello, I’m Seven’. She will constantly attract curiosity. Mummy and daddy are not being
kind to this little girl.
I write with a degree of passion on this matter. At birth, as the firstborn of the newlyweds, I was given the names of both my mother and my father – Louis (my mother was Louie) and Albert. Albert was a popular name in the early decades of the twentieth century, as was its diminutive, Bert. It was fine for my father’s generation but not for mine. Nevertheless, from birth, like my father, I was known as Bert.
From the late 50’s-60’s the name took on a rather different connotation. ‘Bert’ was now a ‘plumber’s mate’ or one of its various equivalents. I went up to university and during the whole of my time there I never met another Bert. Meeting others and introducing myself was embarrassing – as was the experience of watching them trying to avoid having to actually say my name.
Girls were not easily attracted to a guy called Bert!
I found life easier on the fringe of whatever was happening and, although for some years now I have increasingly used my first name, the habit of ‘semi-detachment’ has persisted. The damage was done at the naming of the child!
The Beckhams are seen as fashion setters by many. It will be interesting to see whether or not the name Seven appeals to other parents or, indeed, whether the ‘numerical’ approach becomes popular. I could have wished that they would break the celebrity mould and make a selection that their child might find helpful rather than challenging.
See also David Mitchell’s Soapbox