Mere pronunciation of your name can be offensive. This was brought home to me this week when, in the company of two Bernards, they both expressed their intense dislike of the American  way of stressing the second syllable to make it 'Bern- ARRD.'
   One of them appeared to express a reluctance to even visit the States because of this and having met too many obnoxious Americans (not my experience, I must say).
   From my own background, I do actively dislike my full name 'Michael', the one my parents used to call me all the time and one my first poems were published under in Ireland.
   Perhaps it's because I've always associated it with a loveless home and the formality of schooling that I came to have so much antipathy towards it.
   And then, everyone who seemed to dislike me would deploy it like a weapon (or maybe I just believed they disliked me , as they used it?).
   One Deputy Head ( who was 'Merthyr Posh') would always greet me with the exaggerated formality of 'Hello Michael!' , then stare at my Adam's Apple to check if I was conforming to tie-wearing convention ( I was a teacher at the time, not a pupil!). It was a direct counter to my daily greeting of 'Orright?' which made him wince.
   Despite its associations with my father - who never had time for anyone but himself - I always liked my second name 'Geraint' and, living in England, the way it was inevitably mispronounced as 'Jer -AIN'T' (as in 'ISN'T').
   My father used the shortened 'Ger' a great deal and it sounded gentle and affectionate : the exact opposite of his personality.
   For a while, he aspired to be a writer and changed his name by de-poll
 to 'David Grant', so it sounded less Welsh ( how could you be a writer and be Welsh, was his Cymrophobic  theory).
   He couldn't even just adopt it as a pseudonym and when the letters to a 'Mr D. Grant' started arriving at my Gran's house in Barry, where we both lived at the time, I had to stop her from giving them back to the postman.
   Choosing a name for your child should be thoughtful and meaningful and I can't fathom those who choose Scandinavian or Irish names without any connections with those countries.
   Worse still are the names of where they were conceived. I once taught a 'Carlton' (as in the hotel), but unsurprisingly never a 'Inialley' or a 'Backovan'.
   I have taught pupils with the most unfortunate names : one of the worst being in W.Germany where there was a boy called 'Bernd Dicks' (he could get away with it there, but should he ever move to Britain.....). The other was more recently and a boy actually called 'Ben Dover'. I think I might have put my foot in it and accused him of 'taking the mick' when he first told me!
   Surnames, of course, are harder to avoid. One girl I taught whose surname was 'Trollope' always kept insisting it was pronounced 'Trollopi', thus drawing attention to a word that most didn't know was a synonym for 'prozzie'.
   As a teacher, you soon get used to insults, often based around your nickname.
   The Comp. where I taught in Merthyr had a plethora of interesting nicknames, from a Head of Year called 'Hitler' to 'Dicky Bow Dai', 'Honey Monster', 'Action Man' and 'Sparrow Legs'.
   Sometimes it was simply the alliteration which attracted the pupils, like 'Potty Powell' and, at others, it was hard to explain the origin, such as 'Willy Pimp'.
   I never minded nicknames, so much as as those pupils who would find one aspect about you and constantly target it, knowing it would annoy.
   I vividly recall one girl who discovered my then small bald patch on the top of my head, just beginning its journey to full monkdom.
   She would duly focus on this almost every lesson, remarking on its rapid progress in the midst of my curly locks. She'd never shout anything out, preferring instead to comment in matter of fact manner, as if I knew nothing about it - 'Sir......yew know yewer bald patch is gettin bigger, don' yew?'
   I should've been wearing glasses at that time, but avoided them and squinted at the back rows of classrooms. I didn't want her attacks to be two-pronged!
   Now, when a few pissed Bluebird lads chant over to me on the train - 'Baldy! Do the Ayatollah!' I duly oblige and have a laugh.
   I always think of our ex-keeper and former Scotland international George Wood and one of my favourite chants - 'He's got no hair, but we don't care! Georgie, Georgie Wood!'



No offence like,

but yew’re a baldy bastard

with an ead like an egg,

if I woz t crack it open

yewer brain ud be

like a Cadbury Cream Egg.


An yewer breath’s more mingin

than my dog arfta ee’ve spewed up,

yew got warts on yewer face

jest like them witches

in ol Shakey’s ‘Macbeth’.


Ow come yew always sweat

like yew got taps

under yewer armpits :

B.O. =  Bog Odour,

ever yeard of deodorant?


Yewer clothes ‘re so ancient

they’ll be back in fashion soon,

yew mus get em from Oxfam;

yewer trainers ‘re mankin,

yew look like a gypo :

where d’yew live, Bogey Road?


When yew talk it’s a bloody screech,

so igh-pitched the dogs go mad

an people in-a shops think

the fire-alarm’s gone off,

anybuddy ud think

yew’d ad yewer goolies chopped off!


No offence like!


Leon Russell
11/25/2012 05:49

I can sympathise, being mistaken for being Jewish and having to defend opinions you don't hold is absolute pain in the ass!

# Standin' onna porch of the Lido Hotel
Floozies in the lobby love the way I sell #

11/27/2012 06:05

I was born in Ynyshir which is a great source of amusement. Pronounce that one, I feel like saying to people. I could empathise with your father but I've got over it now. Christened Donna Mary was the bane of my life, especially having it shouted in the street by my mother for all my misdemeanors - and there were a great many.
I thought to publish under the pseudonym Donna-Maria and give myself a Spanish edge. Ond, Cymraes ydi i. My roots in the Rhondda.

12/26/2012 09:29

In addition we need to make sure your family and home, to a good alarm.


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