Funny names

Today it is important to keep it light. This is because, just minutes by car away from where I write, my friend Wendy is dividing her time between being the most fabulous mother to her three lovely children, and waiting for the fourth to arrive.

It’s due roundabout now. We’re all quite tense. Every time we see her on the playground, or across a cup of coffee, she wears that firm, no-nonsense look that says : “Don’t ask me. I may have to be impolite.”

So we don’t talk about any of the glaringly obvious, and I won’t go into it here. We simply put those September doldrums to one side and have a laugh.

One of my favourite films of all time is Roxanne.

You know, that remake of the Cyrano de Bergerac formula in which Steve Martin dons a very big nose indeed to court Daryl Hannah with worms. Or was it words?

Of course Phil and I have a favourite moment.

It’s at the very climax, when Roxanne discovers that the Steve Martin character, CD, has been pretending that his ravishing love letters have been written by someone else with a prettier face.

Furious, she orders him out of her house. He walks up and down on one of those beautiful wide American porches in the balmy dusk, shouting “Ten more seconds and I’m leaving!”

The door, unceremoniously shut moments before, flies open. “What did you say?” she fires out.

He repreats his ultimatum, and disgusted, she flounces back into the house. Just before the door closes he realises she thought she’d heard different words. Wait a minute, he says, what did you think I said?

She replies: “Urmore Sessions, by Slieving”.

“Well what does that mean?”, he rejoins, perplexed at this wild card.

“I don’t know”, replies Roxanne testily. “That’s why I came out.”

We love it, because it is just how one of us would think. We adore random events, we treasure the unexpected, and either of us would be prepared to shelve a thunderous row for Slieving or any of his colleagues.

It appears our offspring have inherited our pension for people who are funny because they have funny names and do not exist.

Today the dog has had a Big Day In. I feel unutterably guilty on these days. He is doggie sat by long suffering relatives two days a week, I’m home two days a week, and one day a week he simply has to sleep a lot and cross his legs in the event of an emergency.

We flew home after school and put him on the lead before heading into the forest, where he had a splendid time because it is pheasant season.

These idiotic feathered fools love to sit waiting for him and then rise, clucking in a matronly fashion, just about putting enough space between his jaws and their tail feathers to squawk another day.

Dog heaven.

And kid heaven too, because this is high comedy. The children chortled and gurgled at the site of these barely airborne ponderous dowagers, momentarily discomfited by a mutt who wouldn’t know what to do if he ever got one.

By the time we headed back towards home,  the kids were in hysterics. They were in a merry frame of mind, and then I said, lets go the forbidden way.

Regulars will recall that our main track up into the forest is closed for works. But it’s nearly finished. I suggested taking the route: the workmen had all gone home and it was quite safe. Felix declined: he does not like breaking rules. I insisted and, ever obedient, he finally followed us down the gully.

Careful Felix, Maddie said wickedly, John Blunt will get you.

Who?

It’s just a joke, Maddie explained, giggling unquenchably, John Blunt. It’s no-one, it’s just funny.

And just to prove it, Felix was gurgling uncontrollably at the thought of being got by this jocular gentleman.

So I started the grown up stuff. Who is he? Do you know him? Is he someone on television? Have you learnt about him in history? Has Daddy told you about him?

No, no, no, no and no.

So here I was, a middle class mother, trying not to think about the fact that I didn’t know who John Blunt was. Maddie and Felix are generous in their mirth. Everyone is invited to laugh along, and I was no exception.

But burning curiosity drew my fingers to the laptop keys in search of an answer from that 21st Century oracle, Google.

And these are the John Blunts I found.

There was a charming New Hampshire artist; a Californian estate agent; NBC Philadelphia has recently bid adieu to a presenter of that name; and John Blunt happens also to be a Freddie Mercury impersonator.

But there was no-one who might have inspired my children to giggle so.

I asked Maddie, just once more. Who thought of John Blunt?

And she said, Oh Mummy, it’s just a really funny name.

There have been many wonderful funny names down the ages. Some of my favourite are from that deeply affectionate portrait of Victorian everyman, Diary of a Nobody, by George and Weedon Grossmith.

What better name for our nobody than Pooter? Charles is the central character. His son is called William or Willie: but half way through the book the son acquires airs and graces, and chooses to call himself Lupin Pooter.

His best friends are Cummings and Gowing, of course. But for me, no name is funnier than that chosen for the amateur thespian who is a leading light in the local amateur group, the Holloway Comedians.

His name is Mr. Burwin-Fosselton.

Why this should be funny I have absolutely no idea, but it just makes me grin.

Funny names make the world go round. I could ramble on, from Monty Python’s Ron Vibentropf and Mr Bimmler,  to Blackadder’s first world war superior, Captain Darling.

But you know, I might just wait to see what everyone else comes up with.

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11 thoughts on “Funny names

  1. We have delightful ones in local custom, where children are often named for the circumstances of their birth. Hence we have ‘Boxing Day’, ‘Chemist Shop’, ‘Blessing’ and a lot, a whole lot, of ‘Patience’.

  2. Maddie’s funny name of John Blunt is interesting.
    Try googling “John Blunt and his wife, they drank of the drink”
    Then select the item “John Blunt by Martin Carthy.”

    You will get the words of the song John Blunt! Which we very rarely sing, but of which we know the words.

  3. No can’t top that. But Lee was Christened by the vicar Joe King and my friends daughters daughter named her daughter Emma,her surname was Royds!!!! That’s just tooooo cruel!!

    1. That’s just plain bloody minded:-D Like Justin Time. I gues the vicar was a reverend….we could have engineered a Mr B. Joe King….

      Thanks Jules. I’ll miss your lovely comments but have a great time…..

  4. One coincidence. A friend in USA and her partner have just completed interviews for a documentary about ladies who fed WWII soldiers on their way to war, pheasant sandwiches because the birds were in abundance, and tasted like chicken I’m told 🙂

    The funny names part reminded me of the fits of giggles my daughter and I shared, when the credits of the film we had just watched came up with a someone Pottle. Like you we had no idea what was so funny about it, but any similar name sets us off again.

    Great post as usual. Please note, I am avoiding mentioning the unmentionable 😉

    1. Well done, Liz, keep on carrying on, I’ll supply updates as they arise….Pottle is a fabulous one, and you have reminded me that we make a habit of sitting to watch credits after a film, just to catch ridiculous names like Hampton G Firehauser III….

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