Brooklyn. Satchel. Betty Kitten. Heavenly Hiraani Tiger Lily. Who'd be the child of famous parents? Becoming a celebrity seems to go hand-in-hand with losing the kind of common sense knowledge that virtually everybody else understands - that an unusual name can be a burden which ruins your life.
Yet in these days of widespread foreign travel, even regular names can have meanings which parents didn't imagine. Fiona is a swear word in one part of rural Tuscany and Bill means buttock in Holland. But according to age-old wisdom which has found new life in modern theories, your name is even more important than that.
It holds the key to the most important parts of your life - love, career and health.
Laurence Y Payg is Britain's only professional name analyst. He makes his living advising
parents on names for their offspring, and by choosing new names for people who feel they aren't getting the best out of life. His own name may seem unusual, but that's because he practices what he preaches. He changed it by deed poll to achieve his aims. Name analysis dates back 3,000 years to China where every court had one to choose the most fortuitous name for the Royal heirs.
It is a complicated system which involves giving a number to each letter in a name. The results are totalled up to reveal your own personal virtues, vices and health. Certain letters can also reveal specific things happening at definite points in your life, depending where they are in your name. For example, in basic terms, an N shows love, romance and loving conditions. A G brings gains and a U brings losses for three years.
Exactly how the letters affect you depends on the calculations Laurence does using your date of birth and the system he has studied for 18 years.
And by changing your legal name, so the theory goes, you can change what you can get out of life.
It may sound more like palmistry and astrology than a science, but psychologists say a name change really can alter your fortunes. With a different name we often think about ourselves in a different way and act accordingly, which can bring the things we hoped for.
ALISON G. N. DAY believes it works. Alison, 36, of Godstone, Surrey, used to be Alison Connaughton until visited Laurence two years ago on the advice of a colleague who claimed his life had become a hundred times better after a name change.
"It sounded incredible, but I didn't have anything to lose," Alison recalls. "I'd been in a very destructive relationship for seven years which had followed another seven-year relationship which hadn't worked. I was struggling in poorly-paid sales jobs and sharing a cramped place with a friend because I couldn't afford to live in London on my own. And my mother had suffered a terrible illness which broke up my parents' marriage."
In his first meeting with Alison, Laurence analysed her ex-boyfriend's name - and gave a startling account of their relationship problems. Then he asked exactly what she wanted out of life. Alison opted for just enough financial success so she could also focus on establishing a good relationship, but she wanted to keep her first name. Laurence offered her a choice of two names - Alison G. N. Kay, which he said would lead to success and money, and the one she chose which should create a greater balance between career and love.
"I thought, `What the hell. Why not change my name?'," Alison says. "So I did it by deed poll. When I told my boss he burst out laughing, which was what I expected, but then he said, `No, it's not that. I was just about to offer you a promotion.'
Alison got another promotion within six months and then set up on her own as a business consultant. Her career took off faster than her wildest expectations. She travels all over the world and in two years her salary has doubled to pounds 35,000. She now also has her own cottage.
"The only thing that had been worrying me was the relationship side," Alison confesses. …