A Gate Pa woman has a solution to unwanted and unfortunate given names.
“Maybe it would be better if a name given at birth was just a temporary thing,” says Terry Janes. That’s not a typo by the way. Terry is a woman with a “y” and not an “ie” or an “i”, which is the common drill.
“And then,” says Terry, “we could choose our own Christian names when we reached an age of about 15.” So leave the Christian name for the wearer to decide at an appropriate time. Eminently sensible.
Terry was empathising with the writer of a Weekend Sun Rogers Rabbits column who struggled with the first name of Hunter as a boy - and now rejected it outright after it became the fifth most popular boys name in New Zealand.
“Dear Hunta,” she opens in her email. “I sympathise with you over your name and have done my best to alter it. Maybe you won’t like that either?”
She too was given unusual names for the time, in 1932. “Theresa Gaynor - no one else of my era was called those names. Of course, I grew up definitely not a saint as my first name suggests. And today no-one would use my second name, especially in its shortened form.
“All the kids in my class were Barbara, Jill, Mary, Sheila, a couple of Josephines and Wendy – nice, simple spellings.”
Terry was told a man fell down their sewer the day she was born in 1932 and, as a consequence, just avoided being a Sue. For some reason her father often called her Mrs Brown or just plain Brown. "Maybe it was the colour of my hair - born with straight blond hair but soon becoming "mouse brown".
“Fortunately, I have always been Terry - not spelt with an "i" thank you - but then that’s a boy’s name and this can cause speculation if people haven’t met me.
“There was a gym teacher who couldn’t remember my name and always called me Trixie. She at least got the first letter right.”
Then Terry married a man with the unusual surname of Janes. Terry, or Theresa, or Gaynor, became Mrs Janes. “And that gave us problems – was it spelt with an M or an ON? Was it James or Jones? ‘Can’t find you in our filing system’ was a common response.”
And Terry expects if today someone wanted to name their off-spring Theresa it would be spelt Tereza or Tereser. “Oh, heck! So Hunta, there’s no accounting for what our parents name us.”
And all this on a week when socialite, former All Black and rugby league international, Matthew Ridge named his fourth offspring Kenzo Axel Ridge.
There’s always the deed poll option – you need to be 18. No longer than 100 characters please and nothing offensive or an official title or rank or anything resembling one.
And there’s the small matter of $170. At 85, that may be too much and too late for Terry or Theresa Gaynor.