So just what happened to Peter, Paul and Mary?

It has been said that all newborn babies look like Winston Churchill. Picture: PA WIRE

It has been said that all newborn babies look like Winston Churchill. Picture: PA WIRE - Credit: PA

It isn’t easy to choose a name for a new baby – names go in and out of fashion so quickly – but there are selection techniques you can try

I am now the proud grandmother of three grandsons. Number three, who is currently nameless but weighed in at 9lbs, arrived at the time of the morning specially reserved for being born, 3.18am.

Son Mark was with his wife Cait, throughout, of course and sent me the occasional text message. I was in bed and I cannot tell you how startled I was each time the phone warbled at me... not that I was asleep.

Since then I have been to see the baby with no name (cue theme from The Good, the Bad and the Ugly... ah, that gives me an idea for a name. “How about Clint?” I suggested as the tumbleweed passed by.

Naming babies isn’t easy. Names currently in use among family and close friends tend to be avoided or used for middle names.


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Some people go for celebrity names – Taylor for a girl, maybe. Jay-Z for a boy, maybe not.

I like Biblicals but they are much less fashionable now than they were when we named our daughter Ruth and out son, Mark. If you’re going to go there, you might prefer something grittier, like Job or Jeremiah though Haggai, Hezekiah and Hosea might be too challenging for a five-year-old to manage on his first day at school.

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Giving the baby a name is one of the most important things we do for our children in the first week of their lives. You can look at them when they are born and decide what name best suits them. I’m guessing not many people do this, otherwise the most popular name for girls and boys every year would be Winston (optional middle name, Spencer).

There is a family tradition of the boy with no name. Mark, who we had fully expected to be a girl because the midwife said so (something to do with the way the the baby was lying in the womb) had about five names in his first three days before, on day four, we settled on Mark. In retrospect we might have gone for something more distinctly Shakespearean – Horatio, Lysander or Orsino but not Bottom.

My mum says she called me after the heroine in a book. She can’te remember what it was about, only that she liked the name. I cannot track it down so I’m guessing it is not a classic but I do hope Lynne was a highwaywoman or rode out on her white charger to save a damson (is that the masculine of damsel?) in distress. There’s another idea - the names of fictional heroes. Ulysses, Fitzwilliam (as in Darcy), Robin (as in Hood), Athos, Aramis and Porthos (as in Musketeers).

Being on-trend is also an option although what’s de rigueur this year may be passé by 2020. When I was at school there were a lot of Susans, Patricias and Sarahs... I was at an all-girls’ school. Over at the boys’ school, Peters, Roberts, Grahams and Davids abounded. As the century-old Edwardians have already made a come-back (Oscar, Archie, Lily etc), I’m wondering if these early second Elizabethan age names will also see a revival one hundred years on, in the mid 21st century.

On website redbookmag.com a list of hot baby names for 2018 is listed. Stella, Aurora, Hazel, Penelope, Kennedy and Violet are in the mix with the suggested top name, Emma. For boys Hunter (wasn’t he a Gladiator in the TV show?), Christopher, Theodore and Atticus are among those tipped, with Finn at number one.

For truly weird names, you need look no further than Hollywood. Goodness only knows how they pick them but I reckon if you took seven Scrabble tiles out of a bag at random, you could probably create you own celebrity baby name. As a Scrabble fan, I realise this can mean seven vowels, five of them “i” or seven consonants including the two “v”s. Don’t let it deter you. If you’re an A-lister, it seems there is no reason to avoid names that sound like primal screams or Klingon.

In a truly random experiment in baby naming, I took a novel (F Scott Fitzgerald’s Tender is the Night) from the bookcase, turned to a page and, without looking stabbed my finger on to the page. Mildew.

• I have been enjoying the new series of Endeavour on ITV. The prequel to Inspector Morse, it not only has excellent plot ideas but a teasing sense of humour. A couple of weeks ago, an episode featured the Crossroads Motel and they have a policeman called “Fancy” which we have taken as a nod to the Z Cars character played by the barely audible actor Brian Blessed. It only occurred to me that the audience demographic for the series was specific, however, when the commercial break included an advert for the Co-op Funeral Service.

• A word to the dog walker who put his or her pet’s bagged-up poo in my wheelie bin when, on account of the snow, it had been left in the front garden rather than wheeled through to the back garden – this sort of thing goes in the black bin, not the brown bin. This may seem counter-intuitive bearing in mind the colour of the aforementioned item but the plastic bag does not qualify as garden waste.

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