Wednesday, August 13, 2008


BEREFT of other things to do, on a suddenly cloudy day at The Cage, Hector was forced to browse a little more widely than normal today.

This is because all that otherwise seemed to be available in his favourites and even on TV consisted of wall-to-wall Olympics and Wall St-to-Wall St gloom. Not Hector’s scene in the least. Plus, all his friends on Skype seemed temporarily to have ex-Skyped. He was heard to briefly ponder: “Was it something I said?”

The scratchy old bird doesn’t really do sport, unless it’s rugby and the Australian Broadcasting Corporation’s otherwise excellent Australia Network satellite television service forgets to encrypt the signal for commercial reasons and therefore fails to blank out his free-to-air screen as the dollar-hungry plutocrats who rule modern rugby insist it does.

And frankly, he says, there is no pleasure to be had watching chubby little analysts, bulging out of their latest designer attire, explaining (a) that they hadn’t really got it all wrong before; or (b) in working out that the inevitable result of the said analysts apparently having not got it all wrong before is that The Cage will have to engage in a less than pleasant and profoundly unplanned period of belt-tightening.

In search of light relief, therefore, Hec’s eye was caught by a little gem on the ABC’s website saying that Ethel, Norman and Irene, among others, were dying out.

They’re not the victims of global warming. They’re casualties of the changing habits in naming babies. Poor Norman (“North Man” in Old German) has slumped in popularity by 99.85% since 1907, it seems.

It had been popular for boy babies in the Anglosphere ever since William the Conker Man hopped over to England from Normandy and socked poor old Harold right in the eye. William was a Norman. OK, he spoke French, but he was basically straight off the Longship. Harold was an Anglo-Dane, a sort of cousin, really. It was a family thing. He just didn’t have all the Angles.

Anyway, back to the game: Norman no longer conquers, and Ethel and Irene have been sent off. There’s some hope for tradition, since Ruby, Olivia and Joshua are holding up the forward line, but things are clearly on the slide. Hector blames the rash of ill-educated celebrities who now rule the world for this. They name their offspring things like Moonchild, or worse, and still demand to be taken seriously.

Walter and Percy came second and third on the list of endangered names. Hector knows both a Walter and a Percy. He says he’ll warn them they are endangered.

The biggest drop-off among the girls was Gertrude, which is derived from the Old German for “spear maiden”. Presumably, she got the point. People wanting to call their daughters something suitably martial but nonetheless modern might be advised to favour “Taser”.

CLAWNOTE: Hector is a Spanish name. No meaning is attached to it, so people who suggest it means “will hector you from under wet cement” are clearly wrong (says Hector)

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