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Saturday, March 06, 2010

A Boy Named Hilary

I've just finished "A View From The Foothills", Chris Mullin's terrific diaries of his time as a junior minister. Hilary Benn is repeatedly flagged up as a potential party leader. I've met Benn a couple of times, late at night on radio stations where he was pursuing his role as Secretary of State for International Development. He struck me as too modest and self-effacing for the top job. Furthermore I can't help but wonder if the electorate would be happy voting for a man called Hilary. If Wikipedia's anything to go by Hilary Benn hasn't saddled his own children with a similar handicap. I don't know many baby boomers who named their children Michael, James, Jonathan and Caroline. His boys' names in particular remind me of those of my own classmates. Their fathers were Stanleys, Normans, Arthurs and Ernests who reacted against their own names by giving their own sons Famous Five names like Michael, James, Martin, Philip and Peter. In turn this generation reacted by giving their own children bolder, explorers' names like Oliver, Edward, Henry and Thomas. And so it seems that it goes on and on. Names are like tattoos, to misquote Joni Mitchell, and we can't help but wonder, from time to time, what was going on in the minds of those who decided on them.