Monday, 5 August 2013

A Family Failure - Part 1: The nature of names

They’re going to be late, I just knew it. Well I suppose you can’t blame them. We were all born late, every one of us in my family. In fact I was the least late, only three days, whereas Uncle Andy was more like three weeks, or so I’m told. And now they’re going to be late again, they can’t even manage to get to my own funeral on time.
            Dad has always been one of the worst. He almost missed my birth because he was trying to catch a fish. He did actually succeed, but when he pulled it off the hook, it wriggled out of his hand and back into the water. Then there was my wedding. He actually came in after the service had begun with his tie all loose; Mum had given up waiting for him. But now to be late for my funeral? I suppose I have to take some of the blame, because dying in mid-January, when Britain shuts down after 3 flakes of snow, was a bad idea, but still!
            My name is Rufus, which is utterly ridiculous, because far from having red hair (Rufus means red-haired, in case you hadn't guessed) I have none, I never had much, and even worse what I did have was bright blonde. But my Great-Great Granddad had been called Rufus and so of course we had to keep it in the family. Not that I mind Rufus, I find it quite cool. It certainly helped me out in my youth. It put me head and shoulders above the tallest kid in school whose parents had named him Clancy. I saw him many years later by which time he’d managed to make people call him Lance instead.
            Names really are funny things, you can’t choose your own (well you can go and change it if you’re really that bothered. Generally it’s the sort of thing people say they’ll do, like; “I’m going to change my name when I’m older.”
            “Really, what to?”
            “Oh, I don’t know, I hadn’t thought about that bit.”
            “How about Alexander the Great?”
            “Yeah, that sounds awesome.” But of course they never do it). Then once you’ve got your name you never use it. Instead everyone else uses it for you. In some cases they wear it out completely. Or else they just forget it, and every time you see them you have to remind them, and they say “Oh yeah, I remember, sorry. I will remember it next time.” But they don’t, they just make a wild stab. “Is it Vincent?”
            “No, no it’s not. Good try, better luck next time Katie.”
            “I’m Pamela.”
            So you see really they’re ridiculous. At least with my name there aren’t too many around. My younger brother’s called Jack and there are hundreds of them. You just meet them everywhere you go. I’d try to call my brother in a crowded room and 20 people would turn round.
            But enough of names, I was going to tell you about my funeral.

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