Jane Merrick: Play nicely, Isis, and let Icarus have the toy

Share
Related Topics

Every new parent should carry out the "swings test" before naming their baby: how will you feel when shouting the child's name at your local playground? Are other parents going to snort with laughter as you tell little Clytemnestra to stop pushing Agamemnon off the roundabout, or stop Bluebell from going the wrong way up the slide? At our local park in south London, we have a Hercules, a Monty and an Otto, who often provoke wry smiles from other parents when they are being called for home.

Naming your precious newborn something so unusual is to be admired, perhaps, but it's not for me. So when our daughter was born two years ago, we agonised over her name for five days. Some names sounded so rare, old-fashioned or plain ludicrous we feared she would be ridiculed at school, but others were, we thought, too popular. And when your name is plain old Jane, which can never be shortened, you want something longer, and rarer.

After days of disagreeing over Mabel, Florence, Gladys and Clara, we narrowed it down to Isabella (my favourite) and Emily (his choice). In the end, we picked a name that sounded like a hybrid of the two: Amelia. So pretty! And a famous pioneering aviator as a namesake! And it means Rose in Arabic, another pleasing connotation. When, a month later, David and Samantha Cameron called their daughter Florence, we breathed a sigh of relief. When I call out my daughter's name in the park, it sounds neither ridiculous nor over-used – and I haven't come across another Amelia in our patch of London in two years.

But how long will that last? Last week, Office for National Statistics figures showed that Amelia is now the most popular girl's name in England and Wales, rocketing from No 16 to No 1 in five years, with 5,054 mothers giving birth to an Amelia. That's 9,281 little Amelias born in the past two years fighting to get on the toddler seesaw. By the time she goes to school, it seems, every other coat peg will have "Amelia" written underneath it. In 1904, the name Amelia was 85th most popular, ahead of Freda and Millicent, and behind Rosina. The name was 63rd in 1996 and 32nd in 2001. Maybe I should have seen it coming.

But doesn't the popularity just show our girl is a child of her time? The top names in 1904 included Mary, Doris, Dorothy and Ethel, which haven't quite joined the current fashion for Edwardian names (although Florence was also in the 1904 top 10). My mother is called Phyllis (ranked at 96 when she was born in 1944) and disliked it when she was growing up because it was so out of fashion. My name is ordinary, yet it fell out of the top 100 in the 1980s. Who calls their daughter Jane today? My sister Eleanor thought her name too unusual at school, but I envied her.

Our Amelia has already started to call herself Mimi or Mia because that's what her friends call her. To her closest family she's Bumble, like the cricket commentator David Lloyd. And when I call that name out at the swings, Hercules's mother doesn't know where to look.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Maths Teacher

£110 - £200 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Secondary Maths Teacher for spe...

Business Analyst - Surrey - Permanent - Up to £50k DOE

£40000 - £50000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

***ASP.NET Developer - Cheshire - £35k - Permanent***

£30000 - £35000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

***Solutions Architect*** - Brighton - £40k - Permanent

£35000 - £40000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Women are working in some of the lowest-paid sectors such as cleaning, catering and caring  

Women's wages have gone backwards. Labour would give women the pay they deserve

Gloria de Piero
 

Taking on Ukip requires a delicate balancing act for both main parties

Andrew Grice
Wilko Johnson, now the bad news: musician splits with manager after police investigate assault claims

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news

Former Dr Feelgood splits with manager after police investigate assault claims
Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands ahead of the US midterm elections

Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands

The Senator for Colorado is for gay rights, for abortion rights – and in the Republicans’ sights as they threaten to take control of the Senate next month
New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

Evidence found of contact between Easter Islanders and South America
Cerys Matthews reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of Dylan Thomas

Cerys Matthews on Dylan Thomas

The singer reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of the famous Welsh poet
DIY is not fun and we've finally realised this as a nation

Homebase closures: 'DIY is not fun'

Homebase has announced the closure of one in four of its stores. Nick Harding, who never did know his awl from his elbow, is glad to see the back of DIY
The Battle of the Five Armies: Air New Zealand releases new Hobbit-inspired in-flight video

Air New Zealand's wizard in-flight video

The airline has released a new Hobbit-inspired clip dubbed "The most epic safety video ever made"
Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month - but can you stomach the sweetness?

Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month

The combination of cinnamon, clove, nutmeg (and no actual pumpkin), now flavours everything from lattes to cream cheese in the US
11 best sonic skincare brushes

11 best sonic skincare brushes

Forget the flannel - take skincare to the next level by using your favourite cleanser with a sonic facial brush
Paul Scholes column: I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo

Paul Scholes column

I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Jones and Rojo
Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

While other sports are stalked by corruption, we are an easy target for the critics
Jamie Roberts exclusive interview: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Jamie Roberts: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Wales centre says he’s not coming home but is looking to establish himself at Racing Métro
How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?