As our legion of little people head back to school, a startling omission has caught my ear.
It’s something that we grew up with at school and was a rich thread in society’s fabric – the traditional nickname.
They were everywhere. If you had one you didn’t like it and if you didn’t have one, you wanted one.
Some were affectionate and some weren’t, but it was a friendly acknowledgement that was strictly off limits to parents and teachers.
Daughter Molly is in Year Three now (she’s seven/eight) and she doesn’t know anyone with a nickname.
Other children I’ve asked have looked at me as if I’ve flipped my lid.
I’m not quite sure why nicknames would disappear.
Maybe in our desensitised, painfully politically-correct society, they’re seen as a little upsetting.
One child calling another ‘Titch’ or ‘Ginge’ in 2013 probably carries some form of public offence order and rehabilitation for the name-caller.
For the recipient, they’ll appear on an episode of Jeremy Kyle in 2022 blaming their bloated existence and dependence on pink Iced Gems on their youthful moniker.
Clearly, offensive or discriminatory names weren’t and shouldn’t be tolerated.
But many nicknames were almost coded terms of endearment.
I think it’s a real shame they’ve gone. There are stacks that I remember fondly and still use today.
‘Sos’ because his surname is Garlick, ‘Bony’ because he carried as much body fat as a birch twig and ‘Ed’, simply because he had/has a titanic head.
The origins of nicknames were simple; you either had something physically slightly awry or your birth name offered some form of titillation and could easily be mutated.
Ultimately, who isn’t squat, lanky, tubby or skinny? Very few are perfect and the more accepting and comfortable you are in your own skin, the happier your existence.
‘Bunker-Booby’ was a name that stuck with me for a few years.
But I reckon ‘Bunker Mooby’ is probably more fitting these days.