The name's Joly. Dom Joly. It's good enough for me, but what about my son?

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The Independent Online

My son will, all being well, be born in the next few weeks. My wife and I are still battling over names. I am someone who really shouldn't make mistakes.

My son will, all being well, be born in the next few weeks. My wife and I are still battling over names. I am someone who really shouldn't make mistakes. My middle name is Romulus (apparently, I was conceived in Rome). My mother is called Yvonne, my grandmother Gertrude, and my sister tried to change her name to Solaris... do I have to go on?

Looking back at my childhood, I have a couple of three-minute silent rolls of Super 8 film showing my mother when she was pregnant with me. That was weird enough. Nowadays things are much weirder.

I have been obsessively videoing various stages of Stacey's pregnancy (post conception, obviously). When our son eventually comes to view the footage he might get a tad confused. When the first signs of his bump were visible we called him Mackenzie. Two months later people were shouting the name Cooper into Stacey's belly. About three months ago, our daughter Parker decided, for some reason unknown to us, to call the bump Lucas, whereas I was considering Wolf, and Stacey was toying with the idea of Jarvis. It will be weird enough for our son to look at video scans of himself in Stacey's tummy, let alone wonder why he had so many different names. It might be quite upsetting psychologically. What if he preferred one of the abandoned names?

My method of name choosing is two-fold. First I cast my mind back to my bullying days at school and try to come up with the worst possible nicknames from my chosen moniker. I picture a crowd of Lord of the Flies-type children surrounding my child, their evil faces twisted with cruelty, chanting their chosen jibe. Unfortunately a couple slipped through the net with Parker and so, for her sake, I hope she neither has a big nose (Nosey Parker) nor inherits her father's weight gain genes (Porker). I've tried to calm my fears with the knowledge that most kids, like my dog Huxley, now have their own therapist and that she can work stuff out without hating me for the rest of her life.

My second method is to imagine the chosen name being used at a critical moment in some pacy thriller: "Parker Joly strode purposefully into the lobby of the Hilton; her steely blue eyes scanned the hideously decorated room for trouble." Actually that sounds more like a Jeffrey Archer novel than a pacy thriller but you get the picture.

I tried Wolf: images of Hitler's German shepherd kept rearing their ugly head. And when I gave it the novel test - "Wolf Joly leant on the bar, cradling a dry martini and giving the statuesque blonde in the corner a lazy wink" - I couldn't get the image of an eye patch out of my head.

Similarly, Cooper Joly instantly made me think of Pooper Joly, and when I put his name into prose, I came up with: "Cooper Joly stepped off the Riva speedboat, lit a cigarette and ambled off towards Harry's Bar whistling something by Sinatra." There was something of the male gigolo about it that sentenced it to the dustbin.

Lucas was instantly vetoed by Stacey as she somehow linked it to Lucifer and for some weird reason didn't want her son to be named after the devil. That put paid to Beelzebub, which had been favourite as a middle name. This left us with Mackenzie and Jarvis. To me, Mackenzie had no obvious nickname but "Mackenzie Joly took the last couple of steps to the summit and turned, his hands outstretched to the sky, roaring with delight" was a bit too Ranulph Fiennes, a bit Norwegian jumper and full beard for me. So I put Jarvis to the test: "Jarvis Joly sauntered casually into the packed bar, his hands thrust deep into his long coat's pockets. He nodded half-heartedly at a couple of friendly faces before waving to the barman and ordering a Babycham." A Babycham! No way. Too foppish.

Then technology took over. I had to book a summer holiday in Canada for the family, and the woman asked me what my son's name was; she needed it for the plane tickets. There was a moment's silence before I heard myself say to her: "Jackson, the name's Jackson Joly and I'll be needing a first-class ticket and some champagne on ice." That's my boy.

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