David Fitzgerald: What's in a name? That which we call Febreze...
I NOTICE that some new signs have gone up at the top of Gydnia Way pointing towards the waterfront and The Hoe. There is no distance mentioned and no direct direction! I assume this is just a general sign for all Plymothians and other travellers that the water is 'that way', it could start in a mile, it could be a couple of hundred yards, it all depends on the month, the rainfall and the drainage.
I have just written another children's book. A Very Berry Christmas is out now and available almost nowhere. This will be my fourth attempt to entertain the little ones, having written three others with Simon Weston OBE, Falkland's veteran and the best man from my wedding. I hope they have raised a smile over the years as families sit down to read them; the families have certainly raised a smile for us when they come to book signings. The children's names have ranged from the difficult to spell to the absolutely ridiculous. Genuinely, last year I met twins Plantagenet and Hebron! Good luck in the playground boys!
A couple of weeks ago I found myself in a school Christmas fair meeting some lovely people, who were unaware that my hearing is going or indeed my fascination for names. I would like to apologise for laughing at the young lady who came forward and asked for a book for her brother to be signed to Fabreeze. After some confusion I ascertained that his name was Fabrice, his mother being French and not an air freshener addict.
That moment took me back to Ireland in 2006 when I was introduced to an absolutely stunning girl who said she was a welder! After some clarification I discovered she was a hairdresser and that her name was Imelda. I feel a hearing aid may be on Santa's list.
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But by far the best introduction to names from hell came a few years back in Cornwall when Simon and I were sat bored and fidgety waiting for someone to make us laugh.
Suddenly along came a family from Totnes. They probably didn't come from Totnes but looked as if they should. There was Mum and Dad, difficult to tell which was which, and four children, three beautiful girls and something small and truculent in a pram. Pram child seemed to be keeping his nose attached to his face via a finger up each nostril.
Simon asked who they would like the book signed to?
"My three girls" said a parent.
"Lovely" said Weston. "What are their names?"
"Summer Breeze" said the parent patting a child on the head.
"Say what?" said Weston whose hearing is as bad as mine.
"Summer Breeze" was the repeated request.
"Oh!" And Weston duly signed.
"And Autumn Leaf" requested the parent. Weston obliged, his shoulders shaking.
"And Winter Frost" was the final request.
By this time Weston's handwriting was getting a little wobbly and I must admit I didn't help much. I could resist it no more. "What's the one in the pram called... Spring Onion?!"
They walked off, not buying the book.