Part-time traveller, Full-Time Brummie

What's in a name?

What’s in a name? Quite a lot as it turns out…
In the deepest dark late 70s, a young couple in Birmingham were struggling to find the perfect name for their impending daughter. It couldn’t be too short…a single syllable surname put paid to a single syllable forename. And any descriptive words were a no go with a surname that made any word an adverb. So they took inspiration from the radio. Alan Fluff Freeman and Pick of the Pops.  The dulcet tones of Hot Chocolate filled the room.
“How about Errol?” Pa Lee says.
“How about Emma?” Ma Lee says.
“How about Emma, Emmalene? Like in the song?” Pa Lee says.
“Should we drop the first Emma?” Ma Lee says.
And so, baby girl Lee becomes Emmalene. No-one is quite sure how to spell it, but shoving lots of “e’s” in seems like a good idea. Seems there was some suffragette woman with a similar name in the past, but that was spelt “line” with an “i”, not “lene” with an “e”. They reject “Emmaleen” and “Emmalean”. Yet these are all ways in which the name will be spelt in future.
Emma by Hot Chocolate.

Emma by Hot Chocolate. She committed suicide.

I grew into my name. I accepted that I would have to spell my name out to everyone on the phone. I also accepted that people seeing it written down for the first time would ask how it is pronounced. I accepted that every computer would try and auto correct my name to “Enamel”. Or “Emmanuelle”. Yes, like she of the early 70s French softcore porn movies.
Although Emma, Emmalene in the Hot Chocolate song didn’t fare much better. She wanted to be a famous actress. She failed. She killed herself.
 “It was a cold and dark December night
When I opened the bedroom door
To find her lying still and cold up on the bed
A love letter lying on the bedroom floor”
Luckily I don’t hanker after stardom and I’m not “living on dreams” as poor fated Emma, Emmalene did.  She may have wanted her name on the silver screen. But no-one would have known how to spell it.

16 responses to “What's in a name?”

  1. My maiden name was Smith and sometimes people used to ask me to spell that!

  2. My whole life people have tried to correct me and tell me my name was Helen insinuating that I am a slovenly speaker who drops the first letter and can’t say her own name properly!!
    Woolwich building society (ahh the good old days!) also thought I was called Elem due to a typing error on my savings book!!
    And Starbucks…there’s just no point. I should start telling them my name is Bob so they might actually get it right…but I bet they’d still manage to put down something that is not Bob!

  3. April Munday says:

    I always have to spell my surname, but you can see that it’s the combination that makes my full name daft and slightly unbelievable. At least you have the consolation of knowing that your parents thought really hard about your name.

  4. […] On the blog: My hula hooping exploits can be found here! I got protective over my home city here, and wrote about our “Tweet to Eat” Brum Bloggers event at Ana Rocha.  I also contemplated what its like living with a name that no-one can spell… […]

  5. Em Linthorpe says:

    Aw YES! I so hoped this was the reason behind your name the second I started reading. I love this song, I have an affinity with it purely because of the Emma thing. I even have it on one of my Spotify playlists. But to be named specifically after it…now *that* is awesome 😁

    • emfletche says:

      One of my friends has just called their baby Eloise… I send Ma and Pa Lee a message saying “why couldn’t you have called me after this song instead…” 😀

  6. Jennifer says:

    My mother’s name is Dorris with the double R in the middle. I’ve never seen anyone before or after with a name like that. Worse, there was a Doris in town with the same last name. Caused some problems over the years.

  7. Traci York says:

    It’s so cool you have a story behind your name – my parents were never able to come up with a reason why they gave me an “i” instead of the ever popular (and available on pencils and keychains everywhere) “y.” All three of our kidlets (Caillean, Tristan, and Ciara) have a story behind theirs as well – and, in a humorous turn of events, my mother gave me a hard time for giving them such unique names. “How will they ever find their name on a pencil” she wailed… *grin*

  8. As a Cassara most people say “Cassandra” which of course is totally wrong! SO i hear you! Tweeted! Over from Big Up.

  9. […] 6. Because sometimes I get a bit ranty about stuff that’s not about travelling or Birmingham. Like why blogging is so complicated and why you can’t buy cards in the UK with “Mom” on them. And what’s it’s like living with a name that no-one can spell. […]

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