Thursday, 12 June 2008

What's in a name

I saw the specialist at the hospital last week. It was a very successful visit in that I didn't have to wait long, my notes were there, the staff were efficient and the consultant was very good. He explained things, discussed them with me, gave his opinion and in the end we decided that no treatment was necessary. Perhaps a wasted journey but I felt reassured and hopefully will not need to bother anyone about this particular problem again!

The specialist was probably a little older than me. His first name was Mohammed and his last name was a typical Scottish name. Now, he could have been from mixed-raced parents but he had a slight accent that was definitely not Scottish and I would have said that he was probably from Iran or one of the Middle-Eastern countries. I know in the past a lot of professional people with Arabic sounding names changed them to more English sounding names and in my mother's day people with Jewish names did the same. I just thought it was rather sad that this doctor felt the need to do this in this day and age (if indeed he had, although the idea that someone would be called Mohammed McPherson at birth is a little unlikely. The most likely explanation was that he went to medical school in Scotland and adopted what sounded like a common name.) My mother told me that she once worked with an Indian accountant who had changed his name to 'John Thomas'; obviously on the advice of some 'well-meaning' colleagues.

When I was 14 I had a Saturday job in a hairdressers and as there was already another girl working there with my name they decided to call me 'Sue'; a name they made up because they said I looked like a 'Sue'. The whole thing infuriated me and I would never answer to my 'made-up' name. I did not stay there long as I felt like an non-person for most of the time. I know it is only a name but it is my name..and I would hate people to make up their mind about me solely based on that (even though being considered 'lovely' is not a bad thing!)

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