Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

Morning lovely lovely ladies! How are we all on this fine Wednesday morning? I’m irritatingly chipper-mostly owing to the fact I’m on 3, yes THREE, weeks annual leave from work. Scrumptious. I must inform you of something massively important. Pay attention as I will only say this once. Um…that last sentence was a lie. I’m going to talk about this alllllll day… It’s Fliss’ birthday! Ohmigosh-our esteemed leading lady is a whole year older and couldn’t possibly be any wiser. So please wish her a Happy Happy Birthday today-make her smile considering she has to work. Boo… Also, a quick plea from me. I have bitten the proverbial bullet and joined Twitter. Eep. Famously technophobic and also owner of a ru-hub-bish memory, it remains to be seen how successful I will be, but if you could head over and follow me, I promise to return the favour-see if I can get to grips with this networking malarkey! So on with todays ramblings…

 I’m going to go ahead and wade into the Name Debate. It’s such an emotive subject and seems to be all over the blogosphere at the moment-it’s all you Autumn/Winter brides! As you know, it’s a subject Fliss has pondered long and hard over, one that she’s much closer to making a decision on-just as well with 5 weeks to go! Eeeeeeeee…….

Anyway. Distracted much.

I have changed my name. I’m now Mrs. Alsopp. Kirstie Alsop of Kirstie and Phil fame is a distant cousin of Phil’s…I promise that’s not why I changed my name though! The Alsopp/Allsop/Alsop etc family name is a very established, traceable and wide-ranging one-there is a village in Yorkshire named Alsop where there is a yearly gathering of those with said name. Nor is this why I decided to make the change. Phil’s dad has a 12ft by 22ft family tree going back to the 1300s which I was incredibly proud to find myself added to recently. But still, not the reason I altered what was, essentially, my identity.

I have to interject here to clear up a common issue. I’m Aisling, as you know. As in, Ash-ling. Not Ayling or Ase-ling or any other variation; though I appreciate the difficulty. On with the show!

My Name Story is not a simple one, so I have substituted the names involved to give some kind of clarity to the tale whilst retaining SOME privacy. I was born to married parents in the 1980s and as was tradition at the time we all had my father’s name-Johnson. This marriage was not a happy one, nor a particularly well thought out one-I can do the maths Mum *coughs ‘shotgun wedding’*. Bless her. So by the time I was 6 months old, my Mum and I were known as O’Neill-her maiden name. This is the lovely part of the story…a nice man who had admired my (beeoootiful) Mum throughout her relationship, pregnancy, marriage and divorce, made his move and became my Daddy and my Mum’s soul mate. Mr. Gosford-bestest, loveliest, most amazing man on the planet. Three years later my brother Nathaniel was born and when it came to registering his birth it was decided he’d be a Gosford-O’Neill. Same for Freddie two years after that. It was at this point that my Mum and Daddy decided to change their names and mine too-making us the first Gosford-O’Neill family EVER. Pretty exciting, non? I can vividly remember going into school, putting a neat line through my name on my exercise books and with that tongue-between-teeth determination that only 6 year olds can truly exude, inscribing my ‘new’ name. At the same time telling anyone and everyone that would listen how special I was-not much changed there!

It’s worth noting that my parents (hopefully you realise that I am not referring to the spermdaddy now-by the way, that less-than-flattering expression came from my Mother. Love her.) aren’t married. Neither feel the need or see the difference, both having given it a whirl once already. They revel in calling each other ‘boyfriend’ and ‘girlfriend’ and celebrate the anniversary of their ‘shacking up’ together. But then that’s a whole other post. Or three!

Our name made us a family. It gave us a joint identity-a team identity. From my own perspective, it tied me to this awesome man who had found space in his heart to take on, bring up and love another man’s child as his own. Indeed, if I’d given it a second thought before I turned 18-and it’s testament to the closeness of our relationship that I did not-I’d have asked him to adopt me. I know this matters intensely to my Mum too, despite the intricacies of our little family coming together, on paper we were exactly that. A family. Nothing more or less.

And so despite this story, or more likely because of it, I changed my name when I got married. I am the person I am because of my family. My likes and dislikes, my values and morals, my phobia of technology and my questionable taste in middle-of-the-road rock music all come from my family. And my family is what it is, in part, thanks to the name. It doesn’t matter that it was hyphenated, that it was Daddy’s first, Mum’s second. It matters that we were all the same. We had our identity, we had each other-what else could you possibly need? How could I not apply that same logic to my new family? This twosome with their kittens who plan to add to the little unit they have started? We have each other and we have our name and identity. Bring on the rest.

* I’m not being flippant I promise-it’s just that when I tried to think of a decent ttitle for a name-changing post that hadn’t been used already, I drew a total blank. And then Phoebe popped into my head. Awesomeness.

Categories: Family, Friends and Relationships, Life Experience
11 interesting thoughts on this

10 Comments

  1. Posted October 6, 2010 at 8:31 am | Permalink

    what a great story your family sound so lovely and I am sorry to say I did wonder how you pronounced your name! My name changing didnt really occur to me until after our wedding then I realized and as much as I love my new name I am a little sad to lose my old name but it is true I do feel part of a huge big family now with both sides. xx

    Also a big happy birthday to Fliss xxx

  2. Posted October 6, 2010 at 11:35 am | Permalink

    Your family sounds fab! And I love the alliteration of your married name :)

    I keep having the strangest time filling out forms. My title and surname have changed, I have moved house and changed job in the past year, and so I keep hesitating before I write my date of birth, because it feels like that should have changed as well!

    I'm a little guilty of the "pshaw! What's the point?" when it comes to keeping ones maiden name, as I simply haven't heard a single anti-change reason that resonates with me. But, as a modern woman, I respect the right to choose!

  3. Posted October 6, 2010 at 1:46 pm | Permalink

    First things first…I'm so glad you clarified the name pronunciation thing – I would have forever called you Ay-ling which could have become embarrasing. Hell, it already is embarrasing.

    Second of all – I love that story. What a fantastic reason to change your name. I'm with Becca, that as yet, I still haven't heard any reason good enough to make me want to not change my name. If you want to keep your name, and it makes you happy, go for it. For me, I am coming to the conclusion that if I kept my name it would be more of a political statement than because I really wanted to…and for me, that's not a good reason for meddling around with the intracacies of building my new family.

    Thirdly – yes thank you ASH-ling for telling everybody about my birthday. I fear I have finally reached the age now where I no longer wish to make a big deal of my birthday (I wish I could tell my 8 year old self that, yes, your parents are right, one day, a birthday will no longer herald huge amounts of excitement and presents and overeating. Well, actually, I still do the over eating part). But thank you for all of the lovely birthday wishes just the same. You all rock.

    And that is all I have to say.

    Fliss xx

  4. Posted October 6, 2010 at 3:59 pm | Permalink

    what a wonderful story – i couldn't agree more. I have no issues with my maiden name and have always been proud to be a member of my family, but feel changing my name is the start of a new family, my family! can't wait.

    Felicity

  5. Roz
    Posted October 7, 2010 at 12:04 am | Permalink

    Wow what a great story Aisling. To be honest I've been struggling with changing my name since we got married, just coz I'm used to my maiden name and how it sounds…your post has changed my perspective.

    Happy (belated) birthday Fliss! Personally I think you should always celebrate birthdays like anexcited 8 year old :D xxx

  6. Posted October 7, 2010 at 12:42 am | Permalink

    this post makes me smile, not only because you are awesomely hilarious and i want to have drinks with you, but because you LOVE the name thing as much as i do. some people hate the debate and hate listening to the stories of others, but i freaking enjoy it. ESPECIALLY since you are so damn wonderfully happy about your name story. i mean, should we all be? it's crafted us into such cool, kickass people?

  7. Posted October 7, 2010 at 5:18 am | Permalink

    Happy Birthday Fliss my love!

    Is having a double barrel name a bit uppity, do you think?

    Becca x

  8. Posted October 7, 2010 at 9:17 am | Permalink

    Glad you liked ladies-and thank you for the superloveliness about my family, I think they're fab too!

    Roz-I know, it's hard to get used to in the beginning. I think if you're hesitant about the change that makes it a little harder too-I'm really glad that this post has helped you just a little bit!

    Angie-Exactly. All of what you said! I'm going to call my Mum and tell her she made a 'kickass' family…she'll appreciate that!

    Beckickles-I think it depends on WHY you've chosen to double-barrel…we actually have friends who decided to do it 'because it sounds posh'-and I told them in no uncertain terms that I thought they were being ridiculous. (It does sound very posh though…!)
    My brothers and I used to get a few raised eyebrows at school-people would think we were much more affluent than we actually were, or that we were 'snobs'.
    I am a bit of a snob actually-but that's nothing to do with my name!
    People will assume whatever they like when you have an unusual name I think, it was only when they gathered the balls to ask 'why' we were named as we were, there'd always be a collective 'Ohhhhhh' when they realised it was for a bl**dy good reason!

    x

  9. Posted October 7, 2010 at 11:06 am | Permalink

    I would really have liked to strongly consider double barreling our name as a compromise between leaving my old family, and creating our own shiny new one. However our names combined sound terribly posh – in fact, sound something similar to Parker-Bowles of Camilla fame.

    Which my darling friends have taken great delight in pointing out many a time.

    It would make me sound like a posh country estate agent (which I actually was once in the long distant past… but I have no wish to go back to that), and also I'm not sure I could cope with my friends breaking into fits of giggles every time we said it.

    So double barrelling is out for us. But I do get it, and I get why it works, particularly in Aisling's situation.

    xx

  10. Posted October 7, 2010 at 11:47 am | Permalink

    In all honesty, anyone who plans to double-barrel simply for the purpose of sounding posh is likely to create the opposite impression. I used to do Ann Summers parties, and I'll always remember one in a particularly dodgy block of flats in Bristol, where literally every single woman there had a double-barrelled surname, to the extent that it sounded like something from a sketch show.

    On the other hand, if you consider that double barrelling originated from the joining of two families, it makes perfect sense! Anyway, the poshest people I know (as in listings on ThePeerage.com) have single surnames, so you may as well just go with what you think sounds nice :)

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  • By What’s in a name? on March 1, 2012 at 12:57 pm

    [...] with another post that I know is going to speak to so many of you. It’s something that both Aisling and I have written about in the past, and something that gets right into the feminism/patriarchal [...]

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Hello! We're Clare, Aisling and Anna and welcome to a corner of the world where smart, flawed, real women talk about the bigger picture; about their experiences, stories and opinions on all aspects of being a woman today, from marriage to feminism to pretty, too.

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