What’s in a name

I’ve got a lot to thank my parents for and I am sure (hope) that I remind them of this continually. However, there is one thing that perhaps they didn’t think through so carefully and that was the name they gave me. Whilst I myself don’t really have a problem with the name, it would seem that many others do. I have one of those names that seem to cause confusion to others.

My forename and surname are completely interchangeable. Unlike Wayne Rooney, Frank Lampard or Kylie Minogue, but the same as John Terry or even David Cameron, my forename and surname can easily be swapped. However, you don’t see any of the latter list having that problem, or at least not as far as I am aware. Yet, at least 3 times a week, I receive an email from someone referring to me as Graham and from time to time people even say it to my face.

Someone once said to me that a person’s name is one of the most important things to them and you should use it regularly both in correspondence and when talking to them as it makes them warm to you. Well you can imagine how much I warm to someone when they get my name wrong. Is it simply that they are confused by my two forenames/ surnames, or is it that they simply find me so insignificant that they can’t even remember my proper name? I don’t believe it’s the latter as it happens from time to time with people who I know have no negative feelings towards me.

Perhaps it’s a brain disorder that some people have where they literally can’t either remember names, or distinguish between a forename and a surname. There is also the moral conundrum that I sometimes face when someone refers to me by my surname. Do I point it out to them to avoid it happening again, (I have actually tried this and it doesn’t always work), or just let it pass. Some might take an even more radical step and write back to the said person using their surname. There is a danger of this becoming offensive particularly if their surname is impossible to be mistaken for a forename. The alternative is to let it go and hope that at some stage they’ll realise their mistake.

To be honest, it’s not the biggest problem that faces me in my daily life, but just a minor irritant and one that I can generally live with. However, a tip to all of you, who have any inclination to communicate with me – please call me Howard.