Wednesday, September 26, 2018

huw are you, ooh ooh, ooh ooh

Some vaguely-related thoughts about naming coincidences prompted by a couple of things: firstly that I note we haven't done a bit similar to the ones about Nia and Alys for our third child, and third carrier of a Welsh name, Huw. Secondly, I was in a meeting the other day and my current project manager happened to mention that one of his neighbours is called Dave Thomas, whereupon I volunteered the (true) anecdote that I'd discovered only a few days previously that David Thomas was the name of one of Jeffrey Dahmer's victims; the ninth of his seventeen known victims, murdered in September 1990.

It's a pretty common name, so there'll be a lot of Dave/David Thomases out there, of varying degrees of notoriety. Prior to Googling, the ones I could have told you about are:
As always Wikipedia has a more comprehensive list. As for people called Huw Thomas, there aren't as many as you might think; the most famous one being the current Head Of The Medical Household and Physician To The Queen. So if the Queen needs, for instance, a haemorrhoid lanced, old Huw is the man who gets to attend to the royal sphincter.

The Google predictive search thing that we did for the girls yields the following:

  • Huw Edwards is a journalist and BBC newsreader
  • Huw Evans appears to run a photographic agency
  • Huw Stephens is a presenter on BBC Radio Cymru
  • Huw Jenkins is a businessman and current chairman of Swansea City football club
  • Huw Irranca-Davies is a former MP and current member of the Welsh Assembly. His exotic surname is the result of combining his original one with that of his Italian wife; obviously they could and perhaps should have taken the more innovative approach described here and here and gone for something like Davianca or Irravies.
  • Huw Lewis Tyres pretty much does what it says on the tin
  • Huw Tudor appears to be an estate agent
  • Huw Chiswell is a singer
I would have thought, based solely on my gut feeling, that Huw would be a more understandable name to people east of the Severn Bridge than either Nia or Alys. And maybe it is, but the newly-released figures from the Office for National Statistics suggest that actually it's the least-popular of the three in terms of current usage as a name for new babies.

As you can see from the charts (which also show trends over the last twenty years) Huw is currently the 943rd-most-popular baby name for boys (its Anglicised counterpart Hugh is 355th) with a mere 32 baby boys being given that name in 2017 (our Huw doesn't contribute to that number as he was - somewhat unexpectedly - born in 2016). Alys comes in at 541st on the girls' names list (Alice is 17th), and Nia is 303rd. Trend-wise both Nia and Alys are seeing a slow rise in popularity, while Huw is going the other way. These are combined figures for England and Wales, which in this particular case is a bit annoying as there is almost certainly a heavy bias towards Wales for each of those three names, and it would be interesting to see a lower-level view of the data.

A couple of other items on a similar theme, this time unrelated to members of my immediate family:

My old school, St. Bart's in Newbury, doesn't seem to have a "notable former pupils" section on its website (its Wikipedia page does, though), but if it did it would, possibly reluctantly but in the interests of accuracy, have to include the name of murky Brexit-funding shyster Arron Banks. The Wikipedia page fails to note that Banks was expelled from St. Bart's for reasons briefly touched upon here. Other St. Bart's alumni include historian Lucy Worsley (who I guess must have been a near-contemporary of my younger sister), and, appropriately enough only a week or so after International Talk Like A Pirate Day, actor Robert Newton.

Finally, I was having lunch the other day and popped the kitchen TV on to see what appeared to be (and indeed was) an adaptation of Stephen King's The Langoliers. Regular readers of this blog will know that this is one of my favourite things in the King canon and that I therefore should have been delighted. Unfortunately this had a strong whiff of made-for-TV about it (and indeed it was, as a two-part miniseries in 1995) and I didn't watch much of it.

The comments beneath the full 3-hour video on YouTube suggest my fears as expressed above were well-founded. The interesting thing (and the connection to the name-related stuff above) is that the character of the mysterious Brit Nick Hopewell is played by an actual British actor, who once played John Lennon in a film called Chapter 27 - a film principally about Lennon's assassin, Mark Chapman - and was once lined up to play Lennon in an earlier film but was ruled out of the role by Yoko Ono herself because of (presumably) the perceived bad karma generated by his name, which is (dramatic pause) Mark Chapman.

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