Sunday, July 25, 2010

Don’t call me that!

'Little Dorritt is such a silly name, mind if I call you Fanny Chuzzzlewit?'

They call me 'Hell'
They call me 'Stacy'
They call me 'her'
They call me 'Jane'
That's not my name
That's not my name
That's not my name
That's not my name
They call me 'quiet girl'
But I’m a riot
Mary, Jo, Liza
Always the same
That's not my name
That's not my name
That's not my name
That's not my name

The Ting Tings 2009

I just loved it the Sunday night before last when Claire Foy (as Amy Dorrit) snapped at Matthew Macfadyen (as Arthur Clennam - above)
“Don’t call me that” when he addressed her by the absurd sobriquet ‘Little Dorrit’ just once too often?

Dickens’s penchant for creating mawkish models of immature womanhood (whether dolts or angels) was never more cloyingly demonstrated than in fashioning ‘Little Dorrit’. I struggled with the novel, and with that epitome of selfless, sexless devotion, Amy, when reading it as an English Lit student in the 80s. Once again, I pay tribute to Andrew Davies for having breathed new life, and not inconsiderable mojo, into the characters of a ‘bonnet drama’ with this adaptation for television. And good on yer, Claire, for making 'Little Dorrit' a spirited and likeable heroine.

During the following week my 19 year old son also had occasion to insist ‘don’t call me that in public’ when I farewelled him thus: 'goodbye, honey bun’ on the steps of my office building after we'd shared a delicious Yum Cha lunch.

All families use pet names, don't they? The Mitford sisters were 'Decca', 'Nardy', 'Bobo' etc. My sisters and I are known to one another by similarly absurd terms. But when and where you use a pet or nick name is obviously a matter of judgement. When referring to sports stars the use of an epithet seems almost compulsory - 'Shark', 'Tiger', 'Brick with Ears'... for some other public figures too - I have no idea what 'Weary' Dunlop's or 'Chopper' Reid's given names actually are!

The above are all nicknames conferred on their bearers by others as distinct from an adopted name under which one chooses to perform or publish; Prince, Phiz, Madonna, Englebert Humperdink, Guillaume de Gnome de Plume come to mind. The difference being that it is presumably NOT embarassing to declare loudly and publically 'It is I, the Scarlet Pimpernell' while it is probably cringe-makingly awful to be greeted with 'Oi, I thought it was you, Silver Bodgie'. Unless of course you're Richard Roxburgh in which case you might be quite chuffed!

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