Weekend Post: Double the Fun

Ed Balls, from projectdatafile.co.uk

It occured to me about five minutes ago that I haven’t actually posted a weekend post as of yet because I took a two day jolly to be ill. It’s especially silly since I tend to schedule all the weekly posts bar Name Spot like a pro, occasionally cancelling some in favour of more topical ones on the day. I’m just organised like that, I’ve already set up some posts ready for when I scoot off to Wales for a week at the end of the month.

So, let’s get down to business and talk about something interestingly topical. Ed Balls.  For those who ‘don’t do’ British politics, he’s a Labour MP and current Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer. He’s also outspoken about how his name has given him tough skin. We’re not talking about his first name, Edward, nor his middle name, Michael, but his surname. Balls. It’s slang for courage, rubbish and testicles. Of course, it’s the last that usually causes aggro when one’s around someone with a childish sense of humour, such as the first day of nursery. Ed Balls therefore has opted for something rather ballsy, and all three of his children – Ellie, Joe and Maddy – use his wife’s surname Cooper. This rather does re-open the question of which surname to use, and whether double-barrelled is the way for unmarried/separated couples to go.

The original reason for surnames was to distinguish your mate John from your butcher John, but nowadays it’s all about carrying on the family heritage; kind of like how the Evolutionary Theory explains why we form relationships – to produce offspring to carry on oun own DNA, thus ensuring the survival of our genes.

In Spain, tradition is that every gets double-barrelled surnames – I have a half-Spanish half-Irish friend (who’s partner is, incidently, from  Hong Kong) who goes by both of her parent’s surnames, despite the verging on ridiculous length of her name, since she also has a hyphened first name. That may be an issue with double-barrelled surnames, the length some of them can get to can make them unwielding in a sense. I consider my own surname to be long, despite only being 8 letters long – I took to signing off all of my school work as L.Syks by the end of my education. It was so much easier, but maybe I’m just a minimalist at heart.

My Grandparents weren’t actually married when either my Dad or Auntie were born, but neither were given a double-barrelled surname, despite my Grandma being an only child, well, believing she was at the time – last year she discovered her Dad’s other offspring. That means she had every reason to given her two children the really arse-kickingly awesome (yet long) surname of Golden-Sycamore. She didn’t, and is now happily married to my Grandad either way.

There are plenty of reasons for unmarried couples to use just his surname. You may be engaged, or at least planning on getting hitched after stormageddon arrives. You may also have, like Ed, a surname you’d rather not pass on, whether it be due to length or it being open to easy bullying.

Another thing my sister points out is what if both you and your partner have double-barrelled surnames? Four surnames is a little over the top by most standards.

My schoolhood childminder went a slightly different route. She has two children, one of each gender, by two men whom she was together with, but not married to, when they came along, yet both bear her surname. Since neither child really talks to their father much nowadays, it seems to have been a good call by Julie since it makes them seem like a complete unit, rather than the mish-mash of names they would’ve been. Not that she could’ve possibly known that to begin with.

It’s an interesting topic because it changes dramatically with each situation. I, therefore, can’t really see myself setting any fool-proof rules, since every law has it’s flaw in another culture. Ultimately, each to their own. Paperwork can always be changed.

Categories: Weekend Post | 6 Comments

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6 thoughts on “Weekend Post: Double the Fun

  1. Wow I just read an article about this:


    Golden-Sycamore is one of the nicest names I ever heard. You may wish to persuade your husband for you both to change your surnames to that one!


  2. I love reading maiden name/double-barreled name/which surname to use conversations and blog posts. I had a really tough time deciding if I should use my husband’s surname, because I was so attached to mine, and I was offended that our culture almost demands women to take the husband’s name. Most of the people I know say “Well, it’s fine if you want to keep yours,” but then they talk behind your back. In the end I decided to take his surname because our two names didn’t sound good hyphenated, and I was thinking of our future children.
    And yes! Paperwork can always be changed!!!

    By the way, Golden-Sycamore would have been sweet! I would totally ask my husband if we could both share that name!


  3. Grrr, Ed Balls. Loathe the man. Balls by name, balls by nature.


  4. If my parents had hyphenated their names, my name would have been Richardson-Riches. Fortunately, they decided not to … 😉


  5. namemuststay

    I agree completely – there’s no one way! Looking at family genealogy there were a lot of occasions in my ancestors’ history when a surname was changed for simplicity’s sake, as well. (Van Ysselstyne became Asselstine, etc.)

    I believe Anna Friel and David Thewlis’ daughter Gracie has her last name as well.


    • I think that’s a modern and sensible option that couples are opting for now – with the mother’s name included, but not hyphenated into the father’s surname. So much more workable.


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