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The Name Game

What's in a name, eh? Here's a factoid for you: I'm not overly keen on my name. Since Kristens Stewart, Wiig and Bell have come on the scene, they've given my name context and made it more recognisable but for the most part, it's the bane of my existence. For a start, my maiden name is Paul. Say Kristen Paul really sounds like Crystal Ball. Thanks for that, Mum. I was apparently named after the lady who shot JR Ewing in Dallas. My mum was drawn to it as she was also a big fan of Kris Kristofferson. So basically I was named after a gun-toting mistress seeking revenge and a hairy dude from the 70s. Yep, that's me all over.

The Kristin/Kris who inspired my name. Thanks, guys!

Over the years, my name has become quite the bugbear. Here's another pie chart for you.

I get called Kirsten a lot. In fact, there's a mum at the school gate who's lovely but calls me Kirsten. I've never corrected her. To the point where I just let her call me Kirsten as we've known each other for two years now and it's too awkward to correct her. In general, it gets turned into Kirsten on spellchecks and autocorrect. But sometimes it doesn't. I do the admin for Jon Snow's football team and run into a lot of men in tracksuits who look a lot like Smithy from Gavin & Stacey. I introduce myself to them as Kristen. Five minutes later, they call me Kirsten. #FFS.

'Yeah, love...little bit woooo, little bit weeey...innit, Kirsten....'

The King of the North doesn't care too much for his name either. Nick rhymes with a lot of bad words, see how many you can come up with in a variety of combinations and sentences. It's a fun game. So, when it came to naming our children, it was important to us that we did it properly and without frivolity. Names are a serious business. We don't want our kids to have to suffer the same fate as us. We don't want abbreviated nicknames. I mean, what sort of idiot names their kid after a celebrity/place/fruit?

Ummm, (hands up) this kind of idiot. We had the hardest time naming Jon Snow and after many lists and arguments, he was named after an actor I fancied at the time. It's a pretty generic kind of name and said actor is still very pretty but it pains me that his name doesn’t have more meaning and I pray to God said actor stays normal and not turn into some fascist fur-wearing deviant. Arya doesn't even go by her first name. Jon Snow couldn't pronounce what we chose (it sounded a bit rude when he said it) so she's always gone by her second name. It confuses teachers and doctors. It all goes something like this:

Doctor: Arya, how are you feeling today?

Arya: Who's Arya?

Doctor gives me strange looks. Your kid doesn't know their own name. Is this your child? Did you abduct them?

The Hound. I like his name. We got it right third time round. But poor little Daenerys. Her name is significant in meaning but it’s one of those names that can be spelt and pronounced in a variety of ways. We went for the way that means she will be correcting people for the rest of her life. It was almost as if I needed a child to share and be forever joined in my misery.

And then you start writing a book and you have to give your characters names too. I am especially bad at this. The problem is I’m now a parent at a school of about two-hundred children, all with parents and siblings and bloody names. Nick was reading my latest draft of Souper Mum recently and pointed out that the nemesis bitchy mum at the school gate was called Jen Walker. And? That’s the Hound’s teacher’s name. Shit. Probably best to change that or end up with a lifetime of crappy timeslots at future parents’ evenings. And probably best to put a little disclaimer here that if your name is in my book, it’s not you. Unless you are a cow, then it is you. Joking. Kind of.

So, given my pretty shit track record when it comes to names, it was probably a questionable decision for me to have been given the power to name a book too. Souper Mum was originally called Little Chef. It was the title that fit at the time as there was a point where Jools (my main character) compared her cooking skills with the roadside eatery. In any case, I like a Little Chef. Any place that does those 6 item breakfasts with those cheap sausages, flooded with baked beans and fried bread is fine by me. However, my lovely publishers weren't so keen. They wanted something mummy-lit friendly. It was a hard decision to swallow. It was like they wanted me to rename one of my children. We went through many an alternative with the food puns flowing thick and fast. My favourites mainly involved the word fork: Fork Off! The Mother Forker! Forking Hell! What the Fork? Funnily enough, they were no-goers.

But then we had one: Souper Mum. Jools' last name was Campbell. We could go with a Warhol-esque style cover, this could work. I won't lie. I wasn't sure for the longest time. Did I wait until a better name came along? Did I think of some others? Will people think it's a soup cookbook? But then the cover art came through. I loved it. And just like my kids, the book kind of grew into its new moniker. I've started to like its quirkiness, the whimsy of it, the fact it has the potential to be misspelt, kind of like my own name really. So Souper Mum it’s become and will stay…

And recently, I've learnt that it could be worse. I spoke to my brother the other day. He said when he was in Hong Kong recently, he met a girl called Fanny Fun. Boom. Suddenly, any qualms I had about any name, ever, become very insignificant….

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