Magazine article The Spectator

What's in a Name?

Magazine article The Spectator

What's in a Name?

Article excerpt

Until last week, I thought I'd persuaded my fiance of the merits of a traditional church wedding. On 21 July, as she walks down the aisle on her father's arm, the organist will be playing Here Comes the Bride, the best man will be searching frantically for the ring and my father will be snoring gently in the front row. After the priest has pronounced us `man and wife', we'll join 130 of our friends and relatives for a reception in a marquee in her parents' garden and at midnight we'll bid everyone a fond farewell and speed off into the night in my Skoda Fabia. OK, the Skoda's a departure from tradition, but the rest of the day will be strictly by numbers.

However, last Sunday Caroline dropped a bombshell that revealed our marriage won't be quite as conventional as I'd hoped. After we're married, she announced, she won't be changing her name to Young. On the contrary, she wants me to change my name to Bondy, which is her surname. `But sweetheart,' I replied, not taking this terribly seriously, `don't you want to be described as "The Honourable Mrs Toby Young" when our wedding appears in Bystander?'

She gave me a look which indicated I'd have to come up with something a lot better than that if I wanted her to change her mind. Apparently, she was in deadly earnest. I gently pointed out that I needed to keep my name for professional reasons, that as a journalist I had become known as Toby Young. If I changed my name to Bondy it would be like starting again from scratch. At a stroke, I'd lose all the brand equity I've built up in my byline.

`You've become known as Toby Young,' she said. `Who to? Your cleaning lady?' In fact, my cleaning lady thinks I'm called Terry, but I didn't remind Caroline of that since it would only have strengthened her case. I suddenly found myself in the awkward position of having to convince her I was better known than she thought I was, a case it's impossible to make without sounding like a complete ass. At one point, thoroughly discombobulated, I made the mistake of claiming that 'everyone' reads my Spectator column. She leapt on this. `Everyone,' she repeated, incredulously. `OK, why don't we go outside right now and conduct a straw poll on Shepherd's Bush Road. We'll stop people at random and see whether they make a point of reading your Spectator column every other week, because, let's be honest, it's not a weekly column is it? …

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