Don’t Call Me Baby

Okay, so you’ve grappled with the eye-wateringly expensive pram, practised manoeuvring the cumbersome car seat into the car, washed and ironed all the brand new baby clothes (for reasons you still can’t quite fathom). And now there’s just one job left…. 

What are you going to name the baby?


If there’s one thing I’ve learnt about baby names over the years, it is this: Don’t, whatever you do, tell anyone the name you are planning on calling your baby. Names are hugely personal and everyone has an opinion. This includes close family members, well-meaning friends – and even the woman who serves you coffee at Starbucks. 

Even if your mother-in-law attempts to keep her opinion to herself, a raised eyebrow is all it takes. So keep mum until the baby is born.

If you and your partner like the name, that’s all that matters.

Golden rule number two: you are not just naming a baby; you are naming a child, a teenager, an adult and a grandparent. Ask yourself, ‘does the name pass the board room test?’.

Take Don, for example. Don was our frontrunner for a boy for quite some time. Don Doherty…. I love it. It’s got all the sophistication of Mad Men’s most debonair character Don Draper (favourite-ever TV series). 

The reality is that no baby should really be called Don, hence our reluctant vetoing of it. But Don does pass the board room test. 

‘Let me introduce you to… Don Doherty, CEO of the company.’

‘And the head boy for this school year is… Don Doherty.’

‘Captaining the Yorkshire Cricket team this year is… Don Doherty.’

Competitive mum? Moi? Anyway, you get the idea.

And I still haven’t fully ruled out D’artagnan (quelle horreur!)… I’m a sucker for an alliterative name.

Don aside, here’s my list of favourite names for boys:

Bertie – Bertie has been my go-to boy name for years. I love Bertie. I even love Bert. If only the husband could be convinced. Still, I honestly believe that if we have a son, I’ll probably call him Bertie regardless of his actual name. Sorry, hubster. Similar favourites: Boris, Pip, Buzz, Claude.

Roscoe – This is a cool name. If the husband was a bearded musician and I was a fashion-forward PR girl, we’d probably go for something hipster like Roscoe. Is it a bit try-hard? Probably. Is it the name of a dog? Possibly. I still quite like Roscoe though. It’s edgy and a bit quirky. Similar favourites: Rafe, Remy, Raffy, Quinn, Jude.

Stanley – Part of a band of vintage ‘Grandad’ names that have recently come back in vogue. Stanley’s a great name but I’m not so sure about the shortened ‘Stan’. Still, who didn’t love Stanley Lambchops, star of the Flat Stanley books, when they were growing up? One word of caution: the popularity of Stanley is on the rise. Old Lambchops was number 80 in the charts last year. Similar favourites: Alfred, Arthur, Archie, Wilfred.

Frank – You can’t mess with a Frank. Strong and enduring, and with a definite whiff of war hero about it. There was once a boy in my class called Frank. He was a handsome little chap, captain of the football team and his popularity knew know bounds. Enough said. Similar favourites: Max, Fred, Tom, Ned.

Fabien – An exotic take on a boy’s name – very French, perhaps, dare I say, slightly effeminate. But who wouldn’t want a son with Parisian chic? Similar favourites: Yves, Etienne, Emery, Emile, Leon.

And for the girls:

Beatrice – Classy, beautiful and with a touch of royalty to it, Beatrice has swiftly become a firm favourite. It’s perhaps becoming a little too popular with the Waitrose mums. But I still love it. I had a Great Auntie Beattie, who lived til 94, and she was quite the character. The good thing about Beatrice is that all of its derivatives – Bea, Beattie, Bee – work well. Similar favourites: Charlotte, Mary (touted here as the ‘ultimate’ name), Emily, Isabel, Evelyn, Harriet.

Anna – I’m strangely drawn to the name Anna, (not least because it’s the name of one of my most fabulous friends). I don’t absolutely love the name but I feel it garners a certain level of respect. You know where you stand with Anna; it can’t be shortened or messed with. Like your Helens, Rachels, Lisas and Emmas, there’s plenty of Annas around now but there won’t be by 2050. At this point, I believe Anna will take on a vintage – almost ethereal – elegance.

Wren – My friend called her daughter Wren. I’ve got to hand it to her. It’s a genius name: unusual yet classic, strong, not too girly and can’t be shortened. It’s everything Anna is… and more. I love it. Similar favourites: Augusta, Brooke, Jasmine.

Georgie – Firstly, banish all thoughts of Georgie Porgie. Georgie is a fun name for a girl. It’s playful in a tomboy-ish, Enid Blyton kind of way but hopefully unusual enough for her to be the only Georgie in her class. In my mind, it’s a good alternative for the ubiquitous but eternally-elegant Grace or Gracie. Similar favourites – Edie, Audrey, Evie, Maisie, Janie. 

Marais – I’m not sure this is strictly a name but the husband and I came up with this while we were trotting around this cool little area of Paris. I like Marais. It has a cosmopolitan, slightly-exotic feel. I’m almost certain there won’t be another Marais at the toddler group. Perhaps for good reason? Similar favourites: Mariella, Mallory, Lucia, Vivetta.

Still not convinced? There’s a whole band of names reportedly teetering on the brink of extinction… so if it’s uniqueness you’re after, why not snap up one of these gems?

For the girls: Maud, Marjorie, Gertrude, Gladys, Hilda, Edna…

Or for the boys: Norman, Horis, Humphrey, Willie, Elmo, Cecil, Rowland…

At least you will be safe in the knowledge that little Willie will be the only Willie in the village.

Speaking of which, I think Humphrey Doherty has quite a ring to it, don’t you?

Feathering The Nest

Nesting. Ew! Who invented this word?

Nesting is apparently an obsessive urge to clean, organise and get your life in order – before welcoming a new being into the world.

Obsessive organisation? That sounds like my normal daily life, with or without an impending addition to the family.

Whatever you want to call it, this strange lull between finishing work and awaiting the baby is a last-chance opportunity to do all the jobs you’ve been putting off for years.

This is because – as everyone keeps pointing out – when the baby arrives you won’t even have time to trim your own nostril hair let alone clear out the condiments cupboard.

Here are some jobs around the home that I have finally got round to tackling (mainly out of sheer boredom at not being at work, rather than any primal nesting instinct).

First up…  the freezer. Does anyone ever actually clean a freezer? This necessity was only brought about by the fact that people have been helpfully messaging me saying, ‘stock up the freezer’.

I’m not sure exactly what happens when you have a baby but I can only assume that you turn into a sleep-deprived zombie, unable to stagger the 300 metres down the road to the nearest Co-Op, or too enfeebled to speed-dial Dominos.

Still, there did seem to be a worrying amount of frost building up in the top compartment of the supposedly frost-free freezer – so much, in fact, that for several years now, I’ve been having to literally ram items into it, between mounds of ice.


There was only one thing for it: in order to stock up the freezer, I was going to have to un-stock it first… Fossilised fish pies and leftover lasagnes – entombed in ice – were languishing in the bottom shelf, buried beneath Jolly Green Giant’s finest frozen peas. There was even coffee in there. Who freezes coffee? That must have been me! 

I have to say there was something strangely satisfying about chiselling off great hunks of ice with a kitchen spatula.

Next task: washing the duvet. One day, I was enjoying a coffee in my favourite Caffe Nero when I looked out of the window and saw a friend from work bundling her duvet into the laundrette opposite. When quizzed, she revealed that she had taken the duvet to be washed… and does so every six months! Dry cleaning the duvet? This essential housewife responsibility had somehow eluded me.

It’s time to come clean here (no pun intended)…. I have NEVER washed our duvet. The sheets get washed, ironed and changed every week but the actual duvet? ‘Fraid not. My mother-in-law will be horrified.

I asked a few people at work and apparently yes, everyone takes their duvet to be washed at fairly regular intervals. The husband and I are clearly the only people to have spent 10 years lying under a filthy duvet, weighed down with dust mites and dead skin cells. 

One quick trip to the launderette, three hours later and £20 lighter, I was in possession of an (almost) brand-new duvet.


It felt good. So good, in fact, that I decided to return the next day with another duvet. By Day 3, I was seeking out anything that could be dry cleaned: pillows, cushions, you name it…

This was going to become an expensive pastime.

Luckily for me, there was a more pressing matter to attend to: namely the smelly washing machine. Strange as it sounds, our washing machine has been emitting a rather pungent odour for quite some time. I’ve been trying to ignore it but in recent months the smell has been begun to seep out of the cupboard and into the hallway. What could it be?

A quick Google search revealed that a malodorous washing machine is the result of using too much washing powder, easily cured by several alternate hot cycles of bleach and white vinegar. Job done.

It was time to turn my attention to the ‘odd and sods’ drawer. Everyone has that drawer. It’s the drawer that you shove ‘stuff’ in when you don’t know where else to put it.


The odds and sods drawer may contain (in no particular order):

a. Old currency from an unknown holiday destination. The only way of determining which country it is from is by studying the obscure portrait on it for some time and then reaching the realisation that Greece converted to the Euro in 2001, thus rendering those drachmas completely useless.

b: A variety of phone chargers and leads – a great nest of tangled wires with absolutely no idea where they came from or which device they belong too.

c. Hundreds of lighters, most of which don’t work. A legacy from the days where a man would stand on the street corner shouting, ‘gas lighters… three for a pound’.

Also likely to be swimming around in the odds and sods drawer: dud batteries, leaky biros, furry sweets, out-of-date paracetamol, mini rolls of sellotape and myriad spare keys.

I binned the lot. It felt quite liberating.

So there we have it. Nesting complete. The baby will almost certainly be happier knowing that its parents are sleeping under a freshly-laundered duvet and that there’s an emergency charger for the Nokia 8210 (circa 2001) in the kitchen drawer.

And if the baby happens to fancy some lamp chops of indeterminable age, I know exactly which freezer compartment they’re in.