Friday, 15 August 2008


Names are odd things, we have no choice about what we are called as children, either in our given or surnames. Potentially as a woman you may get to change the surname part,once, or twice perhaps!

Well I've changed my surname four times now, I've changed my blog name three and my given name has so many variations to different people it's hard keeping up!

My surnames obviously started with the one I was born with. It was a difficult name, no one could spell it, everybody changed it and I was either known as cockerel or cockroach at school, simply cause the first two letters are the same.

It was a name that was well known in my home town, the family went back several generations. When I started my nurse training I had to work past my family's factory, with my name emblazoned for everyone to see. I hated that, I didn't want to be associated with being the bosses daughter. The town I come from was an industrial one, and the people I was working with did not come from the same background as me. I was (and still am, heaven help me!) middle class. I'd been privately educated, I spoke with no accent. The town accent is terrible, it's pure black country, as in 'do yerou want u kipper tie' (do you want a cup of tea!) To compensate for speaking 'posh' I learnt to swear, I was the only person in the hospital who could say 'fuck' in a BBC voice!

So when I got married, the relief of being able to change my name to one that everyone could spell! I kept this name for many years,even though I divorced the man it belonged to. My boys didn't want me to change my name, they needed the unity at that time after their Dad left.

Second marriage came along and although I didn't want to take another man's name on, I couldn't stay with the original man's one. So I changed again. This name was another sensible one, no problems with spelling it, but it rankled with me that I'd taken a man's name.

This famous five week marriage! As in five weeks actually living together two years waiting on the divorce, meant that at last I could change my name to one of my choosing.

It felt very obvious a choice to me. My Mum had been dead many years by now. I wanted to have something of hers. I also wanted a woman's name. So I changed it by deed poll.

This surname belongs to me, and more importantly, me to it. I will never change my name again, whatever my marital status may end up being.

This name feels right. One of the things I struggle with is having an emotional home, and this name grounds me in a way that the other didn't. It feels like me.

And now my blog names have been doing the same sort of thing. The name I started with Prada Pixie, was a joyous child name, especially as I became known as pixie, which I seriously loved.

Bollinger byrd was born out of adversity, in that I felt compelled to close down PP and reinvent myself. But the name wasn't right, it wasn't me.

Of course now as I've been struggling this summer to come to a better understanding of myself, and an acceptance, the name had to go. Being with Sorrow and talking for the days I spent with her, it emerged that I was changing and growing and rising like a phoenix and the name was therefore obvious. And like my surname it feels right.

I feel more settled, calmer, somehow at being this new me. As if I've been there all along, but couldn't find me, cause of the wrong names.

As for my given name, take your pick, as I've been called ;
Lou, by my parents, and now my best friend, it's defiantly the name that someone has to earn the right to call me in terms of love.
Mandy, most people call me this, even though I don't much like the name, it feels a very juvenile name to me.
Mand, which is fine again, doesn't make me feel anything, except perhaps the people who call me this know me well and it's used as an affectionate nickname.
Amanda, which is my given name,and has horrid connotations of being in trouble at school, so I associate it with authority and fear, so I find it difficult to be called. Which is sad, cause it's this name that means, worthy of love.
Big Sis, obvious that one.
As is mummy, mums, mumsy and mum. I like all of those a lot. Although only get called the more childish ones in ironic affection nowadays!

It seems to me that I've spent an awful lot of my life looking for the real me, and more importantly accepting that real me. And changing my blog name, is definitely and bizarrely a way that feels as if I'm nearly there. And if I could just sort out my given name now!!


Mei Del said...

i too have had different changes of name/surnames. it's suited me to be so careless about my names and like you i've settled into the present last name which is the same as all the children's for that sense of unity with them. but one day i might change my last name again ....

Mel said...

Oh, but what a glorious feeling to discover the name that's 'home'.


ChrisH said...

Hmmmm! I think I'll leave the thorny issue of previous married names well and truly in the past! My nieces call me KitKat - which I rather like because it makes me laugh.

BenefitScroungingScum said...

It is bizarre that one of the most important parts of 'us' is something we have no choice over and often hate.
BG x

Lady in red said...

I never liked my maiden name and was quite relieved to change to my married name which is quite ordinary however now I would like to change not back to my maiden name but my mother's maiden name, the only reason I have not done so is the issue of sharing the same name as my children.

growing up I detested my given name for being too 'different' my brothers got ordinary names but not me. Nobody could ever spell it and few could remember it. These days the majority of people who don't call me LiR use a shortened version of my ame which has become popular in more recent years.

Even though I call you by the name you told me last year you will always be pix to me

Walker said...

What's in a name but a bunch of letters.
It's what you make of it that's important.
My last name translates to Gimpy Gus, boy am I happy the kids didn't speak Greek in school but I guess it could be worse.
It could have translated to Teenie Weenie LMAO!!!!
Have a nice weekend

Irene said...

From my 18th until my 53rd I was called by the names of my two husbands. Now I have my own maiden name again and I must say that it pleases me to no end. My father only had daughters and it pleases me to use his name in my daily life, as if I am carrying on the name a bit anyway. My sister is getting a divorce as well and will start using her maiden name, that will make two of us. Our older sister is widowed and uses both her surnames. I am glad we are using this name again now. In honor of my dad.

lampworkbeader said...

I love my maiden name, and if married now I would certinly keep hold of it, though when I married all those years ago it never occurred to me that I wouldn't change to my husband's name.
The part of Scotland that my maiden name comes from, when women die their gravestone states their maiden name. As in
Mary Mackenzie, wife of ...etc.
In my mind I have always kept my maiden name. That's who I am and who my ancestors are.

Withy Brook said...

What's in a name? Shakespeare asked. A lot by the sound of it. My brothers (3) were all given Welsh names and mine was quintesentially English!
Maiden and 2 married names - stick with the last - my 'Victorian' husband would be shattered if not. But I do ask for Mrs R.. B, Not Mrs G.R. B. I have my own given name and do not see why I should be called my his.

Ronjazz said...

Whatever you call yourself, I still call you 'friend'. And maybe something a bit more risque, once time allows the opportunity...:)

Fire Byrd said...

mei and lady,I'll give you your comments in person later!

mel, it does feel good, part of settling into oneself.

chrish, kitkat is a great name, it's lovely when the youngers love us enough to give us special names.

bendy, your right. And what's aggravating is when everyone else loves your name, and you don't

walker definately the better translation to have to deal with!!

irene, sounds as if you've been doing some serious sorting yourself out, pleased it's working for you.

lbw, I never realised that about Scottish history. Glad you have held on to your ancestors identity, even if internally.

withy,good point about taking the man's given name as well. I think a generational thing can't see any of todays young women doing that.

ron, I'm waiting!!!!


Faith said...

I've also had four surnames, as have married 3 times. Was glad to leave my maiden name as it sounded awkward and everyone spelt it wrong. I like my given name though, its quite pretty and I like 'Faith'. Hope you stick at Fire Byrd now so I know who you are! I am in entire agreement with Withy - how I hate envelopes addressed to Mrs. W. L when I am Mrs. A. L!!

Casdok said...

Its interesting isnt it. Names do make a difference. I have only recently gone back to my maiden name. It feels more like me now as i did it through choice.

Love Fire Byrd.

Fire Byrd said...

faith, not sure how you get your name out of A.L., but no doubt you do!

casdok, it does feel liberating to be able to choose our names after the tyranny of taking a man's name.It does offend my feminist principles.


Cait O'Connor said...

I have just realised you (Fire Byrd) were BB! My blog name is my 'home' and is my mother's maiden name but that is a long story but it feels good to have it back again as it was my given name. I don't mind my married name so I use that as well just to complicate things.

Sorrow said...

There is an element of Power in a name. To often, I think we don't ever take the time to acknowledge that power. Your fiery wings have spread my dear, and it is pure pleasure to watch you soar!

Fire Byrd said...

cait, that feeling of 'home' is so special and right we don't always know about it till it happens.

sorrow, I'm gently hovering right now in a place of peace, and it feels very good.


patsy said...

Fire Byrd,
I love your new name, it really suits you and all the good work you do.
I too have kept my maiden name; I'm proud of it and helps me feel connected to my Scottish roots. My darling English husband doesn't mind at all; he's a big character and I didn't want to lose my individuality by becoming Mrs W.
My parents' daughter, my husband's wife, my children's mother...this way I can still be me. Also it's my professional name and helps to separate work from home.
But my blog name suits me too at times!

Fire Byrd said...

patsy, welcome lovely to see you here after our chatting.
it is good to be sure of our identities, even if they are sometimes a bit ditzy as in our blog names!!!