When we set up our first IT suite, I wrote the name of each computer on its monitor for ease of identification.
So there I’d be in class, leading a rousing chorus of ‘Three Sailors went to Sea’ (easy to strum; no Fs), when a small child would appear at my elbow with the message that Flo wasn’t coming on. I could then reply that Flo tended to have a sticky disk drive and suggest checking that she didn’t have a floppy still in it. Then turn her off, turn her on and she’d roar into life with the full power of her 8 Mb. Simples.
I’d chosen names from my parents’ generation, so as to avoid having one of our own Happy Breed accused, publicly, of being low on memory. Which all goes to show that, when it comes to predicting the popularity of names, I must score slightly below Paul the Psychic Octopus. Because our registers are now running alive with Florences and Graces. We have a whole bunch of Daisys and a Violet on the way. They will be going on first dates with the Alfies, Freddies and Charlies who are currently hogging the Lego. It’s not proved a problem with the computers, of course, as they have long since gone to the Suite in the Sky, having proved far less robust than their names.
What I should have done is used names from my own generation. I’ve yet to teach a Susan or an Elizabeth, a Deborah or an Ann. Plenty of Jacks but no Jackies, Tinas or Buntys. No-one in my class has a School-Friend called June; though Mrs Berry did once have a class with not just a June but also a Terry. Thus the dullest day could be brightened up by the cheap thrill of awarding Good Work certificates in assembly to Terry and June.
Mrs Berry also once worked in a school with a high Middle Eastern population. Being the highly skilled professional she is, within half a term she could call the register without even blinking when she got to Farti. Until her daughter’s school had an Inset Day.
A teacher’s holidays are not flexible, of course, so if your own child’s school is closed for some reason, you can’t just take a day off to be with them. Sometimes, teachers bring in their own children to bumble along with the class. I always found the main difficulty with this as being when Young Lochinvar and Infant Phenomenon realised how many things in the classroom used to belong to them. Mrs Berry came a cropper, however, when her daughter was sitting on the carpet enjoying the novelty of having her mum calling the register. Until she got to Farti. At which point, young Miss Berry rolled around on the carpet in helpless laughter, howling “that child is called Farty!” while Mrs Berry tried to smother her.
The Reception teacher in the school is often the first to meet new families. I enjoyed getting to grips with some of the musical, multi-syllabic African names and can now take a fair run at most of them. It’s usually the English names of the footballers’–wives variety that make me want to say “You called your child what? Seriously?” Instead, you train yourself to say “that’s unusual” and move on.
As a much younger and greener Jellywoman, I met a mum with a delightful daughter whom she’d called Ocean. We’d got on quite well, mum and I, and she was openly chatting about the bump which promised another child on the way. So I asked if she was going to call this one Puddle. She frostily replied that she liked water. Our relationship after that was never an easy one, even when little Riviera joined the school.
Some names do take beating, though. A colleague of the mother of a friend of my niece was recently reprimanded by a parent for having pronounced her daughter’s name incorrectly all year. The child’s name was Le-a, which said colleague had been pronouncing Lear as in King. Colleague apologised effusively and asked how it should have been pronounced. Ledasha, apparently.
Now that would be a good name for a computer. I might use it if P@ricia ever packs up.
PS: If you’re a UK resident, have you signed the e-petition asking for increased Government funding for Parkinson’s research? There’s a link to the petition here. 2,186 signatures at present: we need 100,000.