Originally posted by fjm at North London Literary Festival at Middlesex University: March 27th-29th.
For a while, when playing make-believe as a child, I called myself Cat or Kat as on Catherine or Katherine.
I hated my name being shortened to Nat or Gnat (because that is one of the names that bullies called me at school). I have also always said that I would never give any daughter of mine the middle name that I have (because it was mum's middle name and her mum's, …) because it was yet another source for the bullies to use - a boy's name or surname but as the middle name for a girl Seymour is a cruel and awful punishment for nothing that I had yet to do! I have come to terms with that and am not going to be having any kids so I will not be passing on that pain.
My French teacher in the first year at the comprehensive (age eleven) used to tease me by spoonerising my first and last names. My surname back then was Fricker and so she used to call me Fratterly Knicker (Fratalie Nicker?) which stuck and was yet another source of inspiration and delight to the bullies. Yes, I was bullied mercilessly by children and some teachers from the time we moved to Horsham when I was seven. Mostly emotional and verbal because I would cry at the drop of a pin and, when the class girl-bully Claire H decided to call me out for a fight when we were fourteen, her phalanx of friends left her to it and I beat her. I was a nerd/geek/"square" but sporty/fit enough to hold my own in physical altercations.
I was always drawn to names that could be shortened to a male-sounding or unisex moniker. George for Georgina. Charlie for Charlotte. I knew from about the age of eight when I had my first girl-crush that I was not a girly-girl and became an out and out tomboy. I do sometimes wonder if I had been a teen/tween in more modern times I might have been able to find a more unisex identity for myself. Ah well, we are the product of our times.
So, this has been a long ramble that basically says I would rather have been called anything that could be shortened to a more male or unisex name, that I hated my surname until I could change it by getting married (whilst being able to keep my surname-initial and so my natalief online-almost-everywhere nickname) and that I would not wish my middle name on my worst female enemy!