Skip to main content

What's in a name?

I’ve been meaning to blog about this for a while. On the 27th October it was a year since I changed my surname, I didn’t get married or divorced I changed it in part for reasons of the PhD. It’s an odd thing to do I appreciate but I strongly felt it was necessary. A year on it is odd to see my old name, although I had that name for 26 years it already feels like somebody else. 

I took my mother’s maiden name and dropped my father’s family name (I won’t write either of them here because this blog is still semi-anonymous to the wider web). It was something I’d toyed with for a while and a few things happened to push me towards doing so. 

Academic’s names are like actors-once taken difficult to shift and they appear everywhere so on starting the PhD I was very aware that whatever name I graduated with-and published with-I’d be stuck with for life, professionally at least. Now it’s not an unfair statement to say that my old name wasn’t up there on the top ten best names list, it wasn’t anything everyone has like Smith or Jones, neither was it faintly rude or sounding like a fruit or vegetable. It was just unusual simple yet apparently impossible to spell.  And it didn’t sound good with ’Dr’ in front of it. (Yes I checked-it’s my equivalent of seeing what ‘Mrs-so-in-so’ looks like).

I never liked the association with that side of the family- these aren’t the people I identify with, they didn’t raise me, they didn’t influence my life in any way and they’ll have nothing to do with it in the future. The people who did raise me, who are responsible for who I am have the name I have now-or did at one point- my mother, my grandmother, aunts and uncles and cousins, we’re not a close family on either side but these people have been part of my life, and more importantly I look at these people and say ‘yes I fit there, I belong with them’. Receiving birthday cards from them with my new name this year meant so much more than seeing it somewhere else.  
Many people find it disrespectful that I chose to change the name of my dead father, to which I answer the only difference being if he was alive I’d have told him, and told him exactly why. A year ago some things came to light about my father, things I’ll never be certain were true or not (but I can hazard a guess). I won’t air my dirty laundry on the world wide web, but anyone who knows me in real life can ask I’ll tell you the details should you care. Suffice to say a series of events simply made the decision for me: this is no longer a person I want to be associated with, this person through their actions made this decision as much as I did.  

Names are important, they tell us where we have come from and where we belong finally now I feel like I have both and that I’ve taken ownership of this new name and this new identity.Everything I do in my research, in my life makes sense with the new name and is so at odds with the old one and what it stands for in my mind. I rarely make decisions I am certain of but this for once was one of them.


Popular posts from this blog

Theatre Fangirls (here we go again)

There's some arguments that come around and you think 'really? we're still talking about this?' but also you're not really surprised.

So when it was annoucned Tom Hiddleston was teaming up with Kenneth Brannagh for a production of Hamlet, it was inevitable that the cries of  'Silly fangirls' began. Once again we're confronted with comments that girls 'Only want to see it because he's in it' and 'Aren't interested in the play'.

And because I am a woman, therefore incapable of thinking of him other than in terms of his he above with a cat looking cute.

But just like Mr H there is both petting a cat, reading a newspaper and looking brooding, I'd like to point out that it's entierly possible to be interested in more than one aspect of a thing at the same time. And secondly I say so what the audience is just there to look at his cheekbones?

I don't have a horse in this race. I think Hiddles is a damn good ac…

Why Elliott & Harper is the company I've been waiting for

I can never resist a good (bad) pun in a title. As the first production from Elliott & Harper opens its doors for previews tonight, it’s worth pausing to think what this new production company means and why indeed we need more like it. Something of a ‘power house’ company formed of Marianne Elliott and Chris Harper. Both coming from the National Theatre- as Director and Producer respectively- there’s a real understanding of both the craft of theatre and the audiences that do- and don’t- come to it there. And theatre made by and produced by theatre people, in the commercial realm. That’s potentially very exciting.

Firstly, the act of two theatre people who really love theatre, really understand theatre both from an audience point of view and an artistic point of view. Secondly, one of the UK’s best directors striking out on her own to make theatre on her own terms. Thirdly, and you bet it’s an important factor, a woman artistic director. It’s all exciting, and has the potential, …

Holding the Man (some thoughts, not a review)

This isn't a 'review' because I saw this too close to the end of the run, but some plays make you want to put pen to paper regardless. It's also not a review, as this is filled with the kind of personal anecdotal nonsense that people tell me doesn't belong in my blog.

Well screw that, this is my blog, and for this one I'm writing it how I'd like.

A little background. For anyone who doesn't know me, I wrote my PhD in what essentially translates to 'Plays about AIDS'. There's a far more sophisticated description. But for the purposes of today, that about covers it. For anyone who wants more of that nonsense, my side blog is here

I started my PhD in September 2010. In June 2010 (June 21st, I looked it up. Yes I keep a list) I saw 'Holding the Man' for the first time. I actually had no idea what it was about going in, I was actually just a bit obsessed with Simon Burke at the time so booked to see him (what of it?). And so by accident …