Monday, 20 December 2004

If you’re called Arthur Wilkins I've no interest in you

If there is a defect in my character – and this is a matter much disputed between those who hotly maintain that there are none and those who with equal vehemence declare that there are several, citing in particular my excessive modesty, the gentleness of my nature which makes me easily cowed by stronger personalities and silenced by vociferous opposition, and, most of all, my predilection, probably stemming from exposure at too early an age to the works of Henry James, for the composing of sentences which, though perfectly coherent and of lapidary grace, develop such inordinate length and complexity that people reading them sometimes give up in the middle, believing that life is passing them by and that they would be well advised to go away and do something else – then it is my perverted romanticism or baseless xenophilia, call it what you will, which causes me to take a disproportionate interest in (or sometimes, even, feel unjustifiably attracted towards) people with exotic names.

This is a defect of no great consequence. I have never come to any harm through seeking closer relationships with people called, say, Chintaman Rambocus or Tarsilla Castelnuovo-Tedesco, nor did it prevent me twenty years ago from making a very sound move by marrying someone called Anne. So it is not disabling, though it is undoubtedly a misguided impulse.

I have been watching on TV an extremely silly spy series called Spooks. There are several women in the cast, including two who are both quite attractive though neither of them to such an extent as to fill me with uncontrollable lust. One of them, called Nicola Walker, is pretty in a conventional way; the other is not really pretty at all but has a vaguely sinister charm, with a slight lisp and cold, hooded eyes; her name, as I would have expected, is Olga Sosnovska. No need to ask which one I kept my eyes on.

The lunacy of my exotic-name fixation was brought home to me when, after the last episode, I examined the cast list more closely and found that I had got it quite wrong: it is the boringly pretty one whose name is Olga Sosnovska.

5 comments:

PerfectlyVocal said...

Thank goodness - I was quite concerned about poor Olga's ability to pronounce her own name if she had a slight lisp. I must learn not to bring my work home with me.

The Continental Op said...

Tony, you may be interested in NAMES: A Journal of Onomastics, which is the publication of the American Name Society.

Best,
Eric
(N.B. Speaking of names, I've changed my blog pen name, merely to be more consistant with the title of my site.)

George Corrigan said...

Goodness gracious Tony, I do declare that to be a 164 (count 'em) word opening sentence! Having recently been diagnosed with some minor asthma symptoms, I am finding myself more breathless than usual, but thats one helluva paragraph to wheeze through. Bravo! And more than makes up for your pedestrian handle. Do you, perchance, have an amusing middle name?

On the subject of your first name, I note that St Anthony (of Padua, not Egypt) is the patron saint of starvation (my guess is against it rather than for it) http://www.catholic-forum.com/saints/sainta01.htm Could you comment on how your personal battle against starvation is going - well I trust, in this holiday season. While flicking through the list (I see Tony is also the patron saint of asses, lower animals and swineherds - there is that pig reference again) I couldn't help but reflect that its a good job Catholicism is a religion with strong spiritual and humanist values and not at all a series of bizarre superstitions loosely held together by a fear of a damnable afterlife, a love of good unprotected heterosexual sex, and a focus on ritual that borders on OCD. I speak, of course, as someone who was educated by nuns for many years. It was bad for my knees, worse for my grammar, but fantastic for my cynicism, and for that I am eternally grateful. And probably eternally damned too. Oh what bitter irony.....

Tony said...

My dear Taffers
Yes, 164. Bravo! Numerate as well as literate.
Pedestrian handle? Impertinent monkey. The story of my middle name is one for which, like the story of the Giant Rat of Sumatra, the world is not yet ready. But I can tell you that the whole may be expressed as Born lanky or softhead.Swineherds I knew about, though I've never done anything much for them, but starvation is news to me. I'll start work on it, er, after Christmas.
Catholics? You want to be careful about speaking ill of that barmy, arrogant, smelly bunch of perverts. Or rather, get the knife in quick before the new law about incitement to religious hatred comes in. In case it's made retrospective, let's agree that they're actually a splendid bunch of chaps, shall we? Long live the Pope, now there's a pious wish!

George Corrigan said...

When I was a kid, the Pope and the Cardinals were a real menacing force to be reckoned with, they were kind of a religous version of the Sopranos. But now that I'm older and they are much older, they seem more a religous version of Six Feet Under. Which is an improvement over that brief spell when the Vatican was a religous version of Sex in the City. Thanks HBO!(Heathens are Better Off)