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.




blur close up composition craft
Photo by John-Mark Smith on



Ms is such an ugly word,
Let ev’ry Ms become a Miss;
I know no-wedlock is inferred,
But Ms is such an ugly word.
And Mrs too, a mumble slurred:
It’s not the sense, but sound I diss.
For Ms is such an ugly word;
Let ev’ry Ms become a Miss.



In Kateable Hands

Saint Catherine
St Catherine by Caravaggio


In Kateable Hands

Catherine, Ketevan, Caitlin and Kate.
They’re level and sensible, seemly and straight.
They know how to work and they know how to wait,
Do Catherine, Katharine, Kitty and Kate

I must have met dozens
In neighbours and cousins,
And every one is an Empire State.
They’re clear and collected,
With diction perfected,
All thoroughly practical, thoroughly Kate.

I’ve always thought Catherines seem so contented
So frankly presented,
So fresh and undented.
Now Kates may seem dashful, or rash or unruly,
But deep down, all Kates are still Catherines truly.

Karen and Cathy and Katya and Kate,
They’re never the Average, always the Great.
Never Unready, or Reckless, or Late
Are Catherine, Katharine, Kitty and Kate,

Steadfast and sisterly,
All throughout history
Buttoned and booted and striding their gait.
Laying down winter fruits,
Backbones of institutes,
Anyone getting things done is a Kate.

I’ve always thought ‘Catherine’ sounds so dependable,
Calm and commendable,
Never up-endable.
‘Kate’ sounds diminished, unfinished, and merely,
But secretly Kates are still Catherines really.

Trine, Catrina, Kalena and Kate,
They’re Hekate’s daughters, and carry her trait.
They’re masters of fortune, not victims of fate,
Are Lina and Ina and Cathleen and Kate,
With K or with C,
With a hard or soft T,
They’re Catherine, Katharine, Kitty and Kate.



A Glut of Collective Nouns

elphants standing on brown soil
Photo by Pixabay on


A Glut of Collectives

Some creatures are packs,
Or are flocks, or are nyes,
Or are schools, or are smacks,
Or are swarms, or are cries.
These names are but games,
Be they clowders or clans –
Unheeded, unneeded,
In knots, knobs and spans.

So what are these words for all critters and birds,
With their bands and their gangs and their cohorts and herds ?
Just gaggles of banter and hunches,
To pep up the huddles and bundles and bunches.

And such linguistic fizz is clearly more than farmers made,
With ferrets by the business,
And ponies by the marmalade.

Let no sneer of pedants
All lather and quack
“It’s army for red ants
And scurry for black.”
A mole-tain of hillocks,
A cotton of wools,
A bollocks of bullocks
And bullshit of bulls.

Just who are these sods who are playing at gods
With their troops and their squads and their plagues and their pods ?
As if we might ever be caring
To credit each cluster and quiver and glaring.

And so their meanings dwindle till the whole safari’s spent,
With kittens by the kindle,
nd ravens by the parli’ment.



Most collective nouns were invented by the Victorians.  It’s what they did.