Monday, 26 March 2018

The Story Of My First Name


A long long time ago, in a galaxy far far away...

Well, 1970 in fact. Here on earth. The  other way just sounds more mysterious. Shut up.

Oh okay, I'll start again.

Picture it. Sydney. 1970. (Kudos to Sophia from the Golden Girls...)

There was a lovely young pregnant lady. That magnificent woman was, of course, my very own mother. She had the important task, along with my father, of bestowing upon me ( the sprog percolating in her womb), the name that I would be known as for the duration of my life. 

They were already the proud parents of a son (my brother - Captain Obvious...) they had named Mark David. This was supposedly due to my mother's aversion to names that could be abbreviated. A short and punchy Mark seemed just right. 

At first, Mum was keen to name me either Rebecca or Rachel. Perhaps she hadn't considered the potential abbreviations of these very fine names. A big hello to all the Bec's, Becca's and Becky's out there. The Rach's, too. I could have been one of you.

It turned out to be a moot point, since my dad wasn't enamoured with either of these suggestions. More pondering ensued as I floated contentedly in the cocoon of my mother's womb. 

Incidentally, I have been told that Mum was quite convinced I was a girl. Of course there was no way to find out the sex of a baby back in those times. The only way was to give birth and clap eyes on it. I mean him. Or her. Mum just had a strong feeling I'd be a girl. And of course, she was right. Consequently, she says she did not give any serious thought to boys names. However, there is slight possibility I may have been a Craig had I developed a Y chromosome. 

Craig. Can you IMAGINE?  I guess it was 1970, so Craig's and Kylie's and Sharon's were all the thing back then. Hard to imagine they were ever babies though, isn't it?






So, yes. Mum was certain I was a girl. Rebecca and Rachel were rejected. Another name was very briefly agreed upon: 

Monique. 

Still. It just wasn't quite right. I was due to make my arrival into this dark and dangerous bright and beautiful world in early 1971. 

Apparently it was around this time that Mum happened to see the 1967 film Camelot, starring Richard Harris as King Arthur, Vanessa Redgrave as Guenevere,  and Franco Nero as Lancelot. 

You can see where this is going, can't you? 







Mum thought Vanessa Redgrave was lovely. Moreover, she was quite taken with her name. "What a beautiful name," she thought. This time, Dad agreed.

Side note: I'm glad she didn't go with Guenevere, because I would have spent my entire life spelling my name to people. It sometimes happens with Vanessa, but not TOO often...

My reluctant arrival into the world occurred on January 15th, 1971. Mum endured an epic and traumatic labour.  I didn't want to be born and kept swimming back the wrong way to stay where I was. Look, it was all warm and floaty in there. Who'd want to come out? Eventually, I did. Around 6pm. Just in time for dinner. Prophetic. 

And it was settled.  My crumpled little yellow and jaundiced features looked like a Vanessa. For a middle name I was given Faye, with a rogue E on the end. Simply because that's Mum's middle name (Alison Faye), so she gave me the same one as hers. I mention the rogue E because I'm quite proud of it. It reminds me of Anne Shirley insisting her name be spelled with an E in Anne of Green Gables. 

Again, it would appear that Mum was oblivious to the potential abbreviations of Vanessa. These days I'm often known as Ness or Nessie (hence the name of this blog). Mum, Dad and Mick always call me Vanessa, but everyone else (mostly) calls me Ness.

Shout out to all my fellow Vanessa's and Ness's out there. I imagine you've also been called Vanessa the Professor, Vanessa the Undresser (useful if your career is stripping), or Messy Nessy in your life time. The latter being particularly apt for me. Ahem.

Oh, and my brother? Who was named a short and to the point Mark? In primary school he was nicknamed "Jaffa" due to his red hair resembling the lollies. It's stuck ever since. Even my boys call him Uncle 'Jaf'. Names are a funny old thing, aren't they? 

And just for another interesting anecdote, I noticed a curious coincidence. For three generations in my husband's family, dudes have married ladies with names beginning with a V.

Mick's Grandmother's name was Violet and his mum's name was Verna. Then he married me, a Vanessa! Just a funny coincidence. But it will be interesting to see if one of our boys ends up with a partner whose name begins with a V... We'll have to wait and see. 

I'm pretty cool with my name. Vanessa Redgrave  is a pretty rad namesake. These days she's known as the narrator on Call The Midwife, among other things. 

And  while I was born here on earth (surprising, since I feel like a creature from the planet Zorg...), 1971 is certainly a long, LONG time ago. Just like Craig, there aren't many babies named Vanessa now. Or at least, I don't hear of any. It's becoming a middle aged/old lady name. Sniff.

But a very good one. Thanks, Mum and Dad. 

And  that is the story of my first name. 

What is the story of your first name? 

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7 comments:

  1. Beautiful! I love the humour and also the connection within your family of your middle name.

    SSG xxx

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  2. Your intro was made that little bit better by the fact that I've been watching Golden Girls again recently. And I almost bought a Golden Girls tee last weekend.
    I swear you make me laugh every time I read one of your posts. YES to Anne with an e from Green Gables, I think you can claim that with Faye. And your mum was right about Vanessa Redgrave.
    My mum wanted me to be Melissa. But dad won out. Cheeky.

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  3. My parents named me Ingrid as they brought me up bilingual and Ingrid sounds the same in both Estonian and English. I'm happy with my given name. I think it's much better than my sister's whose name is spelt with a double i, which she must spend her life spelling out to other people!

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  4. Very nice! There is a butterfly named Vanessa and it has beautiful colours.

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  5. My daughter is Rachel Clare and the Clare was the middle name of all the women in my husband's family - his Mum, Sister and Niece so we followed the tradition. It was lovely reading your story and yes I love Vanessa Redgrave in Camelot and also as the narrator in Call the Midwife. This certainly has been a fun prompt!

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  6. Gosh this was an amusing and wonderful read, Ness, Nessie, Vanessa....
    You were born (tah dah) 8 days before B and I were married! You are older than our marriage...and if you recall, you share your birthdate (but not year) with our son, who we cannot believe will be 40 in January 2019. Oh. That means we will be 70. OMG.
    Thank you for linking up for #lifethisweek 13/52. Next week's optional prompt is "Food I dislike". Do Join in! Denyse x

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  7. You can always entertain with your stories. A wonderful narrator, just like your namesake. I loved reading about your name :D xx

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