My name is “Grunge,” I’ll be your waiter today …

Times have changed. A trend has emerged that makes things a little more complicated than previously – I am referring, among other things to the names that people use. Generally people have named their children pretty much as they’ve seen fit – sometimes after family members, friends and even, dare I mention it, old flames.

But the way society has changed over the years seems to have made even this personal task of naming your child an “open debate” that could potentially cause problems previously never anticipated. 77-Year old Mrs Levy found herself “censored” by M & S the other day when she tried to buy an electronic birthday card for her friend from their website. This tech-savvy lady hadn’t thought that her friend’s name, Dick, was a ban-able offence. But in the interests of “avoiding the system being used to harass by containing profanity” they banned her.

In fact, some countries have even gone so far as to disallow certain names from being registered. This is understandable in the case of some names that are patently ridiculous, like “Talula Does The hula From Hawaii” but I suppose people want to name their children something different to the norm, something people will remember and something unique. It just seems that names that have been around for a long time seem to cause officious people to take it on themselves to make judgement calls in case others might, possibly, take offence to them and rule accordingly. Where were these people when Frank Zappa named his children Dweezil and Moon Unit in 1967?

Photo by Graham

Photo by Graham

But might the implications of causing offence-via-names in the hospitality industry be another problem that could make publicans and restaurateurs scratch their heads. What if there’s an M & S official nearby? And even though the team from Rutters help landlords plan and explore all the avenues and alternatives to ensure their customers operate efficiently and effectively, this one is probably outside their brief. One wonders how many staff will reconsider what name to go by now that Mrs Levy was flagged as “possibly causing offence” in order to be accepted for a position.

Jon Rutter might have to break out the thesaurus to pass on to his customers if this naming controversy continues. And it’s not only the names of people – what about some of the names that dishes have (like spotted dick – I don’t fancy ordering the dotted-Richard dessert), or names of roads and pubs and places of interest. Somehow “Archers Way” doesn’t have the same ring to it as the original “Butt Hole Road” (named after the communal water butt originally in the area), but the residents are comfortable with it. Or the strange or mis-named pubs, like The Jolly Taxpayer (with an emblem that looks like a banker).

One wag suggested that as those who were offended are in the minority,  that they would soon get over themselves. The rest of the crowd would just continue to enjoy themselves and the names that they’ve  all grown up with (tell Mrs Levy’s friend, Dick, that – unfortunately he had to settle for a card via hard copy). My great-aunt Fanny thinks it’s all a lot of nonsense!