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It's a NEPHEW!

Posted on: Friday, 27 July 2012

Have you ever considered how strange a word 'nephew' is? Consider it carefully. It's an odd one. Phew. Ne-phew. Neffy. Weird. 

Baby Narahari (or Paddy, as he's been nicknamed over the last few months) is a beaut. He's like a skinned rabbit. He has little brown eyes and little red feet. His current hobbies involve flinching at loud noises and putting his hands in front of his face, but brother James is hoping that he'll soon progress to Horrible History books and supporting Newcastle United.

He is, as yet, nameless - poor bugger - but I'm personally hoping for Lucky*. 

* Not really. Yet another laughable choice from the Collins Brilliant Book of Baby Names. I think their verdict was 'sounds like a DOG.'

Babynaming: Would a Kevin, by any other name, smell as sweet?

Posted on: Thursday, 26 July 2012

My sister has entrusted me with quite a responsibility. Yesterday, when she called around with mild labour pains - in the early stages of LABOUR, yes - yes, and she WALKED to our house - mentalist! - presented me with her Babies' Names books and asked me to 'make a list' of the ones I liked. 

It's not completely out of the blue - I am admittedly MAD on names. Mad, I tell thee. The disappointment I felt when my mum revealed they were going to call me Eilis when I was born, (then I actually remained nameless for 6 weeks, THEN they called me Laura - I mean, come on, mum. There were TEN Lauras in my year at school. It was THE name of 1983) still eats away at me. Well, I say eats - I means nibbles. But it's still there.

And, being a teacher, I see the fashions in names changing. Names trending and falling out of favour. Names that are over popular to the point of saturation - enough with the Jacks already! Unusual names that work - and those that really don't, eh, Chandler? 

My friend once bought me a Babies' Names book for a birthday present. I was thirteen-ish and wasn't remotely interested in babies - I just loved names. I went through and starred the ones I liked. That same book is now on my sister's nightstand and the names I picked then - well, the less said about that the better. Which is a worry, is it not?

These are the babies' names rules as far as I'm concerned:

1) Nothing too trendy. That means nothing in the top 30 (or the top 32, the way class sizes are going) - you don't want the '10 Lauras in a year group' issue. Well, your child doesn't. And you might send your child to a single-sex school, where the numbers of Avas and Graces and Charlottes will inevitably double. So that means if little old lady names and flower names are trendy for girls, operate on the edge of that trend. Don't go for Lily, go for Violet. Don't do a David Cameron and go for Florence - try Fleur instead. Pretty, non?

2) Nothing too 'out-there'. It needs to be clever and cool, but tradition must be observed somehow, even if it's just on the birth certificate. Well, in my OCD book it does. Would Katherine Duchess of Cambridge have made it to the Buckingham Palace Balcony if she'd been christened 'Kate'? Or, worse, K8? 

(one of my former colleagues had a primary teacher friend who took on a new class with a little girl called La-a in it. Uncertain as to how to proceed, she called her 'Laa' - like, as in 'The Sound of Music 'Laa'. The mother rang up the school. 'Why are you calling my child Laa?' 'Ummm...' 'It's LA-DASH-AH!' Oh my Actual God. Urban myth or reality? You decide). 

3) Don't land your kid with a complex. I spent my whole life with people mis-pronouncing and misspelling my surname. I was a total arse about it. Not everyone will have the strength of character to be like that. And when it's your first name, I imagine it's even worse. Be kind when it comes to spelling.   

Anyway, the book that she's given me is one that she and Krish bought and it is BRILLIANT. It's the Collins Brilliant Book of Baby Names. Have a look. Ignore that there's a picture of a baby wearing a feather boa on the front. If you're having a baby/know anyone who is, I thoroughly recommend you get them this bad boy - they'll thank you profusely. And what I REALLY like about it is this: it gives you the history of the name, but also an opinion of it. There's no pussy-footing about. Have a look at these:

NOVA - Astronomical term for a star that suddenly increases in brightness, then fades; probably works better for a TV science show than a child. 

PENELOPE - Image of elderly gardening lady in large-brimmed hat has of late been counterbalanced by the dramatic sensuality of Spanish actress Penelope Cruz. Chosen for his daughter by Taylor Hanson, of the group Hanson. (WHAT? TAYLOR HANSON IS OLD ENOUGH TO HAVE A CHILD?! More celebrity baby naming madness here). 

DEMOCRACY - Righteous brother of Peace and Justice - all of whom might have a hard time during playground recess.

And so on. They do like some names, by the way. The bad ones just make for better reading. 

It also has regular selections of 10 names under different headings - obvious ones, such as 'Celebrity Babies Beginning with B', for example, but others that appeal to prospective parents' personal preferences, such as 'Short and Strong Names', 'Names That Sound Creative', 'Names Headed for Oxford' and 'Names That Are Trendier Than You'd Guess'. 

Have you heard any interesting names recently? Do you have names picked out for future use? I'd love to hear them.

The last month, in a nutshell.

Posted on: Wednesday, 25 July 2012

Hello there.

I'm shuffling one foot awkwardly. Super-awkwardly. And avoiding eye contact.

It's been a long ol' while, hmm? My apologies. I was caught up in a nuclear holocaust - suffering with a fat-fingered disease which meant I couldn't type - doing a lot of hair-washing...actually, I was just doing a million and one necessary but dull things that HAVE to be done, it seems, when you're moving out of your house and renting it to someone else/living temporarily with the in-laws/sporadically meeting a husband who now lives in another country/going to hen dos/doing an online course for a brand spanking new qualification that you're teaching in September....

I'm going to stop there because the use of the second person is irritating me. You get my gist, though. All that is left to say is ET CETERA.


But hey - I'm back. The good news is, I've done a LOT of reading and re-reading over the last couple of months (school stuff, but grand stuff - Lolita, All My Sons, Brighton Rock, Madame Bovary, In Cold Blood - wowzer), so I shall press on with a few Recommended Readings when I get the chance to process some opinions of them and pen them in a semi-literate fashion.

Here's the me, me, me stuff, though, lazy-girl style (i.e. via instagram. I think it might just have to replace my memory when it finally gives up the game in about, oo, two years).

In June, we went to Corner of Eden. I've mentioned it before. No, I'm not on commission - I just love it.  The place has a similar effect to temazepam, although without the memory loss and slurred speech. We stayed in the Shepherd's Hut, which I can whole-heartedly recommend. There's a mad dash across the yard to the bathroom involved in the morning wearing a dressing gown, but that's half the fun, no? And when furnishings are as outrageously tasteful as this, who cares?

My beautiful, beautiful bike was also delivered. As anticipated, it is beauty incarnate.  If you follow me on twitter or instagram, you may have  will definitely have heard me crowing about it. Here is is in the flesh metal. You have permission to squeal.

And so, we packed up all out stuff to move. It was crackers. I had a random desk in the middle of the front room for a fortnight. I drank wine and packed boxes in the early hours of the morning. Bedders was in Brussels. I was like a madwoman shimmying around a desk in the front room. At one point, I cried. "There's a DESK in the front ROOM.' It was a worrisome time. Here is aforementioned desk, in the front room. 

It'll look grand in a Brussels apartment, non?

I went on a hen do. There were Sports Day-esque games and craic a-plenty. And the Ceremonial Drawing Of Moustaches On Faces. And Pimms. It was splendid fun. 

(Going Off On A Tangent Just For One Sec: It did make me think, though, about the nature of friendship, and how it will be difficult to keep in touch with friends in Brussels. Or maybe I'm a big old cynic and it will be fine. Or maybe I'm realistic and it's all grand because the important ones will stick around. Yeah? Reassurance, s'il vous plait? Oh, I booked a French course, by the way. And a holiday for August - Barcelona and Valencia. Recommendations please!) 

Then I left my job, which was a Very Big Deal as I've been there for four years ('oh, you fledgling!' I'll scoff when I've done 30 years in Brussels - mebbes) and was given lots of uber-lovely cards and presents, including the flowers below. And I drove home with the windows open listening to Luke Kelly's Free The People (not a deliberate choice, honest) pounding the steering wheel and grinning like a loon. Because Our Big Adventure Is About To Begin.

And so it begins with an anniversary (I've outstripped all previous efforts and bought The Very Best Card EVER. Just wait). And a baby (nephew or niece? I'm going with nephew. And BY GOD I hope that they call it Hugh). And it really began this weekend when we sloped off to Kirklington in North Yorkshire to gatecrash a very hospitable fellow's jazzy Village Hall fundraiser and ate and drank and talked with good people. It was joyous. And the house, Mike (if you're reading), is beautiful. I am a little in awe.

Sooo...that's me. What about you? Does anyone have any thoughts on the keeping-in-touch-with-people-when-you-move-away thing? Or friendships with sell-by dates? Or (happy, happy thoughts!) recommendations for Barcelona or Valencia? Gracias.  

Well, this is rather embarrassing.

Posted on: Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Fred: You've been a long way away.
Laura: Yes.
Fred: Thank you for coming back to me. 


Indeed, I have been a long way away. Sorry about that. I won't collapse and sob in your arms, though, in a Brief Encounter style. I will, however, endeavour to write something about everything that's been going on chez Bedford.

Hope everything is just dandy for y'all :) Back soon. 

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