Pseudo for Two



Pseudo for Two

Oh yes, my love, yes !  Oh I shall, yes, I shall !
Oh, I shall take your hand – but alas not your name.
Now, pray do not think me an ungrateful gal,
But must we be titled and branded the same ?
I know, yes, I know – it makes us a union –
(And as reasons go, well, that’s not a puny one.)

But, honestly, darling, your name is, well…bland.
In no way notorious, curious, grand,
Nor pithy and sharp, nor noble and fine.
It’s boringly ordin’ry, jars most discordantly,
Wholly abundant, redundant and panned.
(And woe, don’t I know, so is mine !)

There’s nothing else for it, we each must do better –
Let’s cast both asunder, and start out anew.
We’ll tailor each phoneme and polish each letter,
To craft us a cognomen worthy and true.
Dynasties ?  Damn them !  Just patriarch fetters –
Anonymous rungs of begats and begetters.

Soon, my love, soon, shall the world know our name,
And sing out each syllable, ring out each tone.
And suitably christened, we’ll join in the game –
Inhabit our alias, make it our own.
And if they should wonder at who we became –
It’s only a label by which we are known.



This is written with a female voice, since they’re the ones used to changing names.



Appellation Celebration

name days
Swedish name day list for February 1712

Appellation Celebration

Name days – we don’t really do them in Britain,
They just feel too Cath’lic and rather mediaeval.
There’s no formal ban – the restraint is unwritten –
It just isn’t done, it would cause an upheaval.

Any anyway, what about Kylie and Kevin
And Tracey and Daisy and Scarlett and such ?
They haven’t a saint all between them in Heaven,
So no second birthdays for Dylan or Dutch.

Though don’t give ideas to Clintons and Hallmark !
They’ll bunch us together and round up each stray –
So Sepp bunks with Joe cos they’re in the same ballpark,
And Dawn and Aurora must share the new day.

But Jack is no Jacob, nor Denholm no Dennis –
Their origins differ, they don’t mean the same.
But who cares in Athens or Moscow or Venice,
Where Simon Says sharing’s the name of the game.

And actually, even within the whole region,
They cannot agree on which dates should apply –
So Emma is honoured in April in Dijon,
But over in Stockholm, she’s praised in July.

Name days – we don’t really do them in Britain,
It’s one of those rituals it’s best to ignore.
And somehow, I doubt we will ever be smitten –
Except, of course, Wodan and Freya and Thor.



Eponym’s Syndrome

clinician writing medical report
Photo by on


Eponym’s Syndrome

When news is bad, then no-one thanks the messenger –
But rest assures, there follows much renown.
To make ones names can prove a fickle blessing:
Why, just ask Dr Parkinson or Dr Down.
Perhaps Dr Tourette has got off lightly,
In only causing ridicule and jokes,
Whereas for Dr Alzheimer or Dr Weil
There’s no-one ever pleased to hear those folks.

As if they’re gothic surgeons in a castle or a lair,
Meddling in such knowledge as should best remain unknown:
With Dr Hodgkin’s evil laugh and Dr Creutzfeldt’s crazy hair,
All nations tremble at the wrath of Drs Asperger and Crohn.

It’s sure no way to treat such heroes,
To have their good name turned to bad
As patients spit their syllables,
And lose whatever little hope they had.
These doctors, whose labours we ought to hail,
Have found themselves as harbingers of doom.
Do nurses fear to yet invoke these names
That always seem to summon up the tomb ?

As if they’re puffed-up prettyboys all posing in their lab,
All engineering new diseases, socket-wrenching genes apart,
Chasing fame at any price, copywriting ev’ry scab –
Until we gawp at Dr Bell’s and Dr Turner’s works of art.

When news is bad, there’s no-one thanks the messenger –
But better, surely, that we know than not ?
And largely thanks to these unwitting fathers,
These conditions shan’t soon be forgot.
And yet, for each new syndrome that they spawn,
Their children must carry their touch –
There’s few whose work can reach so many lives,
And few whose name is cursed so much.

As if they’re ancient tragic heroes, fighting with the gods,
To bite the apple, steal the fire, always seek the new –
Can we catch their genius, to bear their brand against the odds ?
Though maybe less of Dr Frankenstein, and more of Dr Who.



No-Nonsense Names



No-Nonsense Names

“First name and last name,
That’s all I’ll call you,
No to initials or multiple-barrels,
No truck with nicknames,
Or maidens or middles,
Or unusual spellings and other apparels.
Just pick out a name that you wish to be called by,
And that I shall call you –
That and no other.
So don’t be contrived, or obscure, or untrue,
Though it need not be that which is used by your mother.
Now no lords or ladies, no highness or sir,
Just easy to spell out and easy to read.
And none of that senior, junior, third –
First name and last name, that’s all that you need.
I’ve no time for Bobs or for Bills or for Bazzas,
No time for Mollys or Maggies or Shazzas.
Our names should be sturdy and stately and great,
With every syllable pulling its weight.”



No Sinjun



No Sinjun

Sir John St.John the Sixth esquire,
Is strictly iambic and strictly a Saint.
He won’t stand for slurring his old money surname –
His Saint-hood is sacred, so ‘Sinjun’ he ain’t !

Sìr Jòhn Sàìnt Jòhn (to use sprung rhythm)
Was knighthed for service to country and queen.
It isn’t a parvenu baronet title
That’s passed-down with silver and eyes of grey-green.

Sir John St.John is a John at the double,
Whose handle is firing both barrels to boot.
The hyphen’s still present, though these days it’s silent –
The fam’ly tree’s old, but it’s still bearing fruit.

Sir John St.John is a doctor, also –
Dr. Sir John the surgeon, no less.
He once sojourned on a journeyman’s journal
In old St John’s, with its permanent ’s.

Sir John St.John has a inborn condition
That makes him assume that we jolly well care.
His symptoms assisted his self-diagnosis:
The syndrome of Sinjun Sinclair.

Sir John St.John, (like his father, Sir John),
Insists as the firstborn, his name gets full worth –
He claims both his Johns by the right of tradition,
And claims he’s a Saint by the right of his birth.



The Memes that Mark our Being

jasper alina kevin niklas write on chalkboard
Photo by Flash Bros on


The Memes that Mark our Being

They’re funny things, are names,
As they rise and fall with fashion,
And so fluky in their claims
For what newborns they can ration
From the finite pool of name-less youths
To whom they shall be handed –
To turn them into Bens and Ruths,
And leave them tagged and branded.
And sometimes from colloquial obscurity
Comes suddenly a surge into maturity,
As sweeping ’cross the country comes
The choice of sev’ral-thousand mums.
And maybe just as quickly as they flourished,
So we find them lost and undernourished:
Out-of-date and oft a joke,
Just withered names on withered folk.
They’re funny things, are names:
They’re just sounds and signs and smoke.



Hat Plus One



Hat Plus One

The football books all said it,
And they wouldn’t make it up –
The more-than-hat-trick scorers
In the world of the World Cup

Ten were these men of honour,
From ’38 to ’94,
Though mostly pre-the 60s,
In the goalless-less of yore.

Leônidas, Wilimowski,
Wetterström, it said,
Schiaffino, Ademir,
and Kocsis, so it read –

And Just Fontaine was next,
And then Eusébio was last –
And nothing more for twenty years –
Those stars were in the past.

But then, from out of nowhere,
Butragueño made his 4,
And then Oleg Salenko
Made it 5 to up the score.

And this was universal,
It was there in ev’ry book –
But then the list got shaky
When they took another look.

Match reports from early days,
Were sloppy things back then –
No cameras to play it back,
Just notebook and a pen.

So hard luck Leônidas,
You were scored a goal for free,
And likewise poor old Wetterström,
Your storm was only three.

And Schiaffino, even worse,
Was left with just a brace –
And on those all-time scorer lists,
These three leave not a trace.