I Hated My Name

By Daphne Hargreaves

My fate was sealed twenty-one years before I was born. It was at the time of my mother's birth.

My grandmother had longed to give her first born daughter the name Daphne. Her husband would have none of it, instead the baby was named Elsie Eileen. This name, my grandfather's choice, he registered before my grandmother was discharged from hospital - she was not even a party to the naming of the baby she had just given birth to!

As my mother grew up, my grandmother told her the story of how she was named. She instilled in her daughter the desire to use the name Daphne, should she bear a daughter of her own.

Thus it was predetermined.

I was born at 6a.m.on a glorious June morning in England. The sun was shining, the birds were singing, all was well in my mother's world; Daphne had arrived. Why couldn't my father have been more assertive? It was many years later that he admitted that he didn't really like my name but since my mother was so set on it he just 'let her have her own way' or so he said.

So there I was, a little girl growing up with a name that was not of her generation but of her mother's. Certainly, no other child in my school shared my name.

I hated my name - especially as a teenager. Eventually I married and it wasn't until after the wedding that I realised my husband didn't like my name either. Very soon after our marriage, we attended a function held by my husband's company. Imagine my dismay when my husband began introducing me to his colleagues as 'the wife'.

My grandfather, my father, my husband - all the significant males in my life did not like my name. So it will come as no surprise to hear that, as time went by, I managed to build up quite an inferiority complex about it. In fact I always mumbled when asked my name resulting in people greeting me as Stephanie, or Bethany. Even TV programs seemed to join the conspiracy. Whenever the script called for a frustrated, shriveled up, mean, miserable or an insufferably snobbish character-there she was - that Daphne character again! More often than not her character would be that of a spinster aunt.

Then fate dealt me a trump card . . . we decided to migrate to Australia. I could change my given name, as far as I knew, not even a deed poll would be necessary. We didn't know a single soul in Australia - nobody would have to be told - what an opportunity!

With the packing done and the long sea voyage over, we found ourselves at last, on Australian soil.

Then something very strange happened. In the hustle and bustle, I forgot to change my name and by this time too many people knew me as Daphne. Even more odd, the conspiracy had reversed itself somehow. My new neighbour said 'I do like your name, is it English? We don't hear it much over here.' It happened again when I went for a job interview, the receptionist commented favourably on my name.

I think I will keep my name - I will keep my name, Daphne - hmmm - it's a fine name. Especially for a budding author!