How to get ahead in the name game

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The Independent Online

The other day I dared to wonder out loud what on earth it was that made Kate Moss so special, because I couldn't see it.

The other day I dared to wonder out loud what on earth it was that made Kate Moss so special, because I couldn't see it.

But I think I have worked it out now.

It's her name.

Kate Moss.

Perfect symmetry.

Two four-letter names, each one a single syllable.

One of those simple, classical names.

Like Brad Pitt.

Or Sean Penn.

Or Jack Lang.

Or... (fill in your own examples)

Having Kate as a first name is extra helpful, too. There are lots of Kates around at the moment, from Kate Winslet and Cate Blanchett on downwards, so whichever way you spell it, it is obviously a name of our time.

It is even better when the Kate is linked to another one-syllable name, though.

Kate Bush.

Kate Swann.

Kate Fox.

Kate Long.

The list is endless, as we journalists say when we have run out of examples.

(Kate Swann, by the way, is the new head of WH Smith, and good luck to you, Madam. Kate Fox is a writer with sociological leanings who has written books like Pub-Watching and Watching the English . Kate Long is also a writer, with a new best-seller on her hands called The Bad Mother's Handbook . She recently told The Guardian that she couldn't quite make out how her book had done so well without any reviews. Well, I can tell her one reason. It's her name. Kate Long. It's up there with Kate Bush, Kate Moss and the others.)

But it's not just being called Kate. What's interesting about these successful names is that so many of the surnames have wild life overtones, echoes of fauna and flora. Swann. Fox. Bush. Moss... It's almost as if you have an outstanding chance of winning fame and fortune if your first name is short and sweet and your second name sounds like an animal, or a bird, or a plant.

Do you remember Jean Rook? Great name. And if rooks, can succeed, so can crows. Russell Crowe. Cameron Crowe. Ah, and Simon Raven.

And dogs. Snoop Dogg.

And cats. Mike Catt.

And cattle. Deborah Bull. Sandra Bullock.

Even a lowly vegetable can have a film star named after it.

A vegetable?

Yes, even a vegetable.

Sean Bean.

The other day, by the way, I switched on Radio 4's Saturday Review , which is normally chaired by Tom Sutcliffe, but he wasn't there. He was away. Instead, it was chaired by Kate Moss. A supermodel who could chair arts programmes! Except that it wasn't - it was someone of the same name but different spelling, ie Kate Mosse.

Well, she has got the right idea.

As has Jordan, the woman who is famous for having a large enhanced bosom, the Sabrina de nos jours , who now says she is becoming real and reverting to her real name. Which is Katie Price.

Another well-known name made up of two short words, also with rural overtones, is Lynne Truss. Would her book on punctuation have become a best-seller if it had been written by someone called Adelina Witherington?

A reader writes: Hold on a moment! I thought a truss was a kind of surgical belt! What's so rural about a truss?

Miles Kington writes: Ah, but a truss is also a bunch of grapes, or a bundle of hay, or a stone cornice...

A reader writes: Fair enough. Carry on.

Miles Kington writes: Though if you do want to get anatomical, there are a fair few well-known body parts floating around. Paul Foot. Sue Limb. Tony Head. Neil Back. Tiggy Legge-Bourke...

To be continued some other time...

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