Dom Joly: How I marked my children out for stardom

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The Independent Online

It's a tricky thing, the naming of your kids. Parker, the name of my daughter, was an inspiration. I've never regretted it for a second. I've always tried to think of my kids' names and how they'd sound in the opening lines of some blockbuster novel. "Parker Joly strode purposefully into the lobby of the Kensington Hilton. She raised her sunglasses and scanned the room for her target." She sounds cool, in control, someone you want to hang with. Fay Ripley certainly thought as much. She nicked the name for her daughter. I consulted lawyers but, apparently, there was nothing I could do legally. The lawyer hinted that there were "people who could sort this sort of problem out", but I felt that this might be a tad extreme.

When my son arrived, I toyed with the idea of calling him Wolf. "Wolf Joly stroked his stubbly chin and finished his whisky. He'd made a decision and knew just what he had to do." He sounds tough, rugged, a real man - possibly a contract killer. Stacey vetoed the name instantly. I tried to persuade her by quoting an article I'd read in the New Yorker about how people with unusual names tend to be successful in life. "Tell that to Moon Unit Zappa," she snorted. She had a point. I mentally vowed never to reveal to her that my middle name was Romulus. Floyd was my next gambit.

"Floyd Joly watched the car drive slowly up to the gas pump. He spat out a well-chewed ball of tobacco and grabbed the nozzle. 'Fill her up?' he drawled slowly." Great, that would make him a petrol-pump attendant. That was a total no-no.

For days the arguments raged until, at last, we agreed on Jackson. I loved the name but couldn't help feeling that something wasn't quite right.

"Kate Moss looked up longingly at the hunk of a man who was slipping a ribbed T-shirt over his god-like body. 'Do you have to go?' snivelled Moss. 'Yes,' grunted Jackson Joly. 'I'll call you, don't wait up.'"

So Jackson is quite a cool name and allows him to squire supermodels but there are some downsides. I was watching Harry Hill's TV Burp this week. I like Harry Hill. He's the funniest stand-up I've ever seen and, although ITV did its very best to neuter his comedy, he seems to have come through the dodgy patch and hit his stride. Anyway, on his TV Burp, where he lampoons the week's television, he was going on about a family on EastEnders (which I never watch) called... the Jacksons. His researchers had found a horde of clips where people were screaming things like: "You're being a right Jackson" and "You're such a Jackson", etc. His theory was that this was EastEnders code for being gay. I almost started to believe the theory as the clips kept on coming. Maybe he had stumbled on the soap equivalent of the much-hyped Quentin Tarantino theory about the gay sub-text of the film Top Gun. I was so relieved that my little Jackson is only a year-and-a-half old. This kind of thing could sentence an older child to years of playground abuse.

It did at least make me realise that there was no way that you can predict what odd implications the name you give your child might hold. Well, sometimes you can. The parents of Richard "Dick" Head who spent five unhappy years with me at school might have given the subject more thought. As for Charlie Umberto Nicholas Taylor, well, let's just say that, initially, I didn't spot the problem and neither, clearly, did his parents.

I don't think that we're going to have any more kids. This is a real shame as I have a new name that I'd love to call my next one. It's Harper. It'd be fine for a boy or girl as far as I'm concerned. I toyed with Harpo for a while, after my favourite Marx Brother, but felt sure that it wouldn't make it past the boss.

I'm warning Fay Ripley though. If she has another sprog and calls it Harper then I am going to take legal action. Wolf, on the other hand, is up for grabs: Wolf Ripley, it's got a nice ring. Think about it.

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