Name Your Person

A few months ago I switched on my server’s referrer logs so that I could join in the fun of seeing what search terms people were using to get here. For most pages it was what you’d expect, although there seemed to be a lot of frustrated teenagers wondering “how to quit wanking”, “what to do if while grinding you get a boner” and “how should chicks masturbate”—all of them drawn like flies to this fly-paper. I should put a comment form there so they can swap notes.

While I was wondering “how to circumcise a sperm whale” (you won’t find the answer here, Rabbi) I noticed a referrer link to Google Groups and the wilds of Usenet, where the denizens of alt.arts.limericks have apparently realised that yours truly has been building up quite a store of them these past few years:

I propose that Azul’s corner (herein) which gets very little activity, be expanded to include commentary and questions about limericks in a prose mode. For example
1. Who is David Alan Brooks. He has a large amount of lims out on the internet.
2. The same goes for Rory Ewins. I suspect he is a form category or pseudonym.

Well, thanks for the attention, Jim McWilliam, but I don’t know whether to feel flattered or insulted. For the purposes of this entry I’ll choose “insulted” so that my response will be longer.

It’s a bit depressing. You do a little of something and hardly anyone notices, but do it regularly enough that it becomes a lot of something and suddenly you’re a “form category” (unless, presumably, your existence is independently verified by Entertainment Tonight). Does Jim imagine there’s a hidden button in MS Word that makes the paper clip pop up and say “it looks like you’re writing a limerick”?

As for the “pseudonym” part, I’m used to people not knowing what to make of my name, but it’s as real as I am (i.e. the sentient being composing these sentences), and as far as I know isn’t shared by anyone else. Jim McWilliam, however, appears to be hundreds of different people. I suspect a pseudonymous clone army.

Would it help if I proved my existence in limerick form?

There once was a redhead called Rory
Who liked to tell many a story.
They all featured red,
’Cos the cast were all dead
By the end: Rory’s stories were gory.

(Dedicated to the many schoolchildren who realised that my name rhymes with other words ending in -ory.)


Speaking of names—which is actually the reason for that entire preamble—they’ve been on our minds lately, what with the impending arrival of a New Ewins. And with the Scottish NHS policy of not telling you the baby’s sex (you have to wait until you can peek up its kilt), we’ve had to come up with not one but two lists of possibilities.

It would have been so easy twenty years ago. Back then, my hypothetical son was going to be Callum, which was suitably exotic in an Australian context, and my prospective daughter was Caitlin, which in the mid-1980s was also unusual. Then Caitlins started spreading across the land like bird flu, and that idea went out the window with the Bernard Matthews turkey. And eventually, now married but still un-Callumed, I moved to Scotland, where that name isn’t so exotic either.

Also, I got older, and as you get older your naming priorities shift. I’ll explain the logic behind the ones we did choose when he or she arrives, but much more entertaining are those we didn’t choose.

Before I go on, a disclaimer. In this age of Google, it’s inevitable that making light of any name online will eventually attract the attention of someone bearing exactly that name. To any such visitors to this page, I can say only that different names carry different connotations in different cultures at different times, and that what seems funny to me won’t to plenty of others; that I am, as shown above, well used to people making fun of my own name, so I know just how boring it gets; and that the deed poll is your friend.

Before these past few months, my favourite name that I could never possibly give a child was inspired by a real, honest-to-god person on the Tasmanian electoral roll. During my honours year, one of our lecturers hired a bunch of us to do some phone polling in the lead-up to a state election. It was an exciting time, even if the job was only one step up from telemarketing. We had to go through the rolls and ring every tenth person, or something like that... which is how one of us found a certain Mr Fish.

I won’t mention his perfectly normal first name, if only to keep his relatives at bay. (They’re probably on-line all the time, and a hook like that would reel them in.) It wasn’t the first name that made the impact, anyway; it was the second:


Ephilet Fish.


That certainly livened up the evening. Unfortunately, we never got to ask ol’ Fillet who he fancied in the election, because he was one of those people still on the rolls who had passed away a few months earlier. But his name lives on in our memories, if not our hearts.

That was before I’d studied the publishing phenomenon that is the Baby Names Book. How these ever actually sell, I have no idea—it’s not as if you need one for more than a few days, assuming you have a pen and paper to write down what you choose. Our library had dozens for us to borrow, all padded out with pages and pages of names that you will never, ever need. (See disclaimer above. You’re a beautiful human being and your name is lovely.) These ones leapt out at me like an over-eager attempt to cure hiccups:


Milo. Pros: Interesting Greek and Latin origins; common in the Czech Republic, therefore Bohemian and cool; inspires affection among fans of Bloom County. Cons: Malted-chocolate energy food drink sold throughout the Southern Hemisphere. Can never, ever be given to an Australian male unless you fervently wish to end up in a home.

Melchior. Pros: Traditionally, one of the three wise men who brought the baby Jesus gold, frankincense and myrrh in the well-known Adoration of the Magi; a more interesting long version of “Mel” than either “Melvin” or “Mel Gibson”. Cons: Doesn’t come with free frankincense, myrrh, or adoration. Sounds like the brother-in-law of Lord Voldemort.

Dickla. Pros: More interesting long version of “Dick” than “Richard”, which will keep the school bullies guessing. Cons: It’s never going to get shortened to “Dick” when “Dickless” is just sitting there. Although it can also be a girl’s name.


Perfecta. Pros: Captures all of your feelings about your little bundle of joy on the day of her birth. Cons: Unlikely to capture everyone’s feelings about her every single day of her life.

Ova. Pros: An easy out for the literal-minded. Cons: Strictly speaking, should be in the singular. Also technically obsolete from the moment of conception onwards.

Regina. Pros: Sounds like the Queen. Cons: Sounds like the Monologues.

Gobnat. Pros: Traditional Irish Gaelic name, the feminine of Gobbán, a legendary blacksmith who could fashion a sword with just three blows of his hammer. St Gobnat founded a monastery at a place where she encountered nine white deer, which is nice. Cons: More interesting long version of “Gob”. There is no less-interesting version.


Further reading, via Shauna: Baby’s Named a Bad, Bad Thing.

21 February 2007 · Journal

“how to circumcise a sperm whale”?


You send down four skin divers.

(Oldie but a goody)

Added by Paul on 24 February 2007.

And would you believe I’d never heard it before? But that’s handy—now anyone who googles their way here *will* find the answer. Ta!

Added by Rory on 24 February 2007.

Dickla? Please, Rory, NOOOooo!

Added by David on 1 March 2007.

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