The Game of the Name.
Attitudes towards choosing the right baby name. Not every name resisters.
Peter, when you talk about my father you call him ‘Bill.’ My mother and her family always spoke of him as Allan — not that they talked about him much! 'Persona-non-gratis' after the divorce. Where did the name ‘Bill’ come from?
It was a sort of family tradition, and it happened over and over. The original story, as I heard it, was like this.
After a child was born the parents had eight days (I think it was eight — something like that) to register the child and give it a name. There had to be this official registration, and eight days or so was the stipulated time limit.
Well Mum came home each time, after she’d done the registration of us kids — it seems like she was the one who did it — and Dad would say — or so the story goes — he’d say, ‘Well, what's his name?’
I was the first one registered, 1911, and Mum said, ‘Ronald Leonard Leyland.’
‘Much too fancy,’ said Dad. ‘Much too fancy! Call him Peter.’
Then came the next one — your father, 1912.
‘Well, what's his name?’
‘Allan Charles Leyland.’
‘Much too fancy,’ said Dad. ‘Call him Bill.’
Then came the last one, 1920.
And Dad said, ‘Well, what's his name?’
‘Alvin Francis Leyland.’
‘What! Much too fancy! Call him Fred.’
Perhaps it was just a whim, but that’s the way it was. The ladies wanted some fancy name. But — ‘Much too fancy’. And so it was that we were Peter, Bill and Fred. It seemed like it was a bit of a joke that stuck.
There was another funny side to the name business. Our father was officially Ernest Charles Leyland, but he was always known as ‘Mick’. Most everyone called him ‘Mick’, but occasionally some business person, who didn’t want to seem too familiar would call him ‘Michael’. That was really funny, when an outsider came and asked, ‘Can I speak to Michael.’