The top 100 baby names is a low bar to clear, I know, but I had thought “John” had dropped out of it long ago, some time soon after the 1950s. Being called John is like sending emails: does not apply to any teenager. Being called John is like not having a first name. My surname people remember. What goes in front of it is like a blank space. From an early age anyone with the slightest doubt about my first name has plumped for “David”. I wouldn't mind being called David: it's almost as anonymous as John, but at least I know children who are called David. It would reunite me with what Margaret Thatcher used to call the Judaeo-Christian tradition, which is not a phrase with which anyone in the post-John era is familiar.
When I was a child I toyed with what I would do if I should find myself in Euan Blair's situation. Not that I envisaged being face down in Leicester Square after celebrating my GCSEs. I think I celebrated my O levels with a single pint of Banks's Mild. But I did wonder what I would do if I were arrested by the authorities and needed to give a false name. Euan went for his middle name - John as it happens - as his surname and hoped to avoid prime ministerial embarrassment that way. It didn't work. I was planning to call myself Gifford. Gifford Shrun. Don't ask me why. It wouldn't have worked either. In the 1970s, long before the internet and Big Brother Watch and Ed Snowden I knew with an adult certainty that any ordinary John trying to pass themselves off as a Gifford or as someone without the same surname as the Prime Minister would last a maximum of a few hours before he was forced to acknowledge his parents.
So I'm fine thank you. John works for me. I don't mind being reliably dated to my fifties. I don't mind being spelt Jhon. I gently discourage Jon or Johnny or "Johnny John Jonathan", but at least I have never experienced that humiliation endured by female people of people saying, "What a lovely name!"
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