Monday, March 06, 2006

My dislike of Ian

My first name is 'Ian'. Just let that roll around your mind for a moment. What does it summon up? How about superannuated demagogue 'The Reverend' Ian Paisley? Or nasty former Rhodesian leader Ian Smith. Then there is Iain Duncan Smith, a Tory leader so unsuccessful even the Conservatives were forced to junk him before he'd even fought an election. And much, much worse is child-murderer Ian Huntley.

And while Ian gets some redemption in cricketer Ian Botham and actor Ian 'Gandalf' and 'Magneto' McKellen, there's not much doubt that Ian is a name with much to be modest about.

It's also generational. It had its moment in the sun in the sixties, when it emerged from its Scottish heartlands and enjoyed nationwide popularity, but it is now heading towards senescence. Nobody calls their son 'Ian' any more. Ian is the 'Percy' of the 2040's.

If it hadn't been for that brief period of popularity, I might have had an unusual, Celtic name, like 'Eoin' or 'Callum' is now. While most Ians got their name because their parents like it, mine is a family name, going back, as far as I can tell, to 'Ian Grant', an Invernessshire crofter in the 1800s.

It's unlovely, Ian. Any name worth only three points on a scrabble board can't avoid being plain. With two vowels and a terminator, it's little more than a grunt. I just can't think of myself as 'Ian'.

So why not use your middle name, you're probably thinking. Only - and here I think there is justification for registrars taking new parents into a sideroom and slapping them over the head with a naming dictionary - my mother wanted my second name to be that of her father.

Which was John. As in, the name of which Ian is the Scottish version. I have two identical names. I am a built-in, two-for-the-price-of-one, there's-no-escaping-me-sucker repetition.

'Ian John.' Without wishing to get into any I-blame-the-parents fingerpointing, you'd have thought my mother and father would have done a little elementary fact checking before saddling me with a redundancy for the rest of my natural. People were weird in the sixties.

I'm not sure whether familiarity breeds contempt, but my love of this name has not grown over the years. I should take up another name, but I just can't think of one that fits. I suppose I'd have to if I ever got published - the thought of seeing those three droney letters attached to my work sends a zing of alarm down my spine.

My surname, on the other hand, I love. That's because it's... oh, but that would be giving away too much in one post. It'll keep.


Blogger Doctor Sordid said...

From one Ian to another, you have my sympathy, sir. My parents deliberately chose a name which couldn't be abbreviated - I always think it sounds more like a whine than a grunt though - "eeeeeeuuuuunnnn!" The lack of any comic characters with the same first name as me, is a source of constant dismay...

11:02 am  
Blogger Psychbloke said...

My parents said to me when I was twelve: You've got a middle name, it's XXXXX ..... sorry...'

Still, I took it out on my own kids.....

10:00 pm  
Anonymous Dick said...

Try Dick. Is it boast or contempt?

8:49 am  
Blogger Dave said...

I found last night that I've blogged about my 'real' name [as opposed to the name I chose to blog under] at length several times. I dislike it too (oh, and my middle name's John, a name I like even less).

11:02 am  
Blogger Mark Fossen said...

I would counter your arguments with:

Ian McKellen
Ian McShane
Ian Brill

4:50 pm  
Blogger Marionette said...

At least you have a name that anyone can spell. I was originally saddled with one nobody could spell and even I had trouble pronouncing.

Having officially changed it, the only person who now uses it is my sister, and she can at least spell it correctly.

5:25 pm  
Blogger eeian said...

Ians, be proud of your mediocre name, and of its mediocrity.

No comic characters with the name ian? take a look at Lee and Herring's Fist of Fun, they had a whole array of them in their "Ian News" slot and othe Ian-related sketches. Makes me glad to have the name ian.

10:46 pm  
Blogger JP said...


3:23 pm  
Blogger fr.ian said...

I thought it couldn't be abbreviated but it can. When I went to work in Liverpool my co-workers called me E!

I was born in Newcastle where at school my name was pronouced Een - a very unattractive alternative.

But, come on, there is a lot worse - commiserations to Dick!

10:52 pm  
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