Saturday, July 22, 2006

Mr Cymtzhal, I Presume?

I have distinct memories of standing at my mother's knee while she talked to any number of faceless types seated behind counters, and while the conversations themselves are all lost to me, one element of them remains vivid. At some point, my mum would always need to repeat the phrase 'Kay-ee-em-pee-ess-aitch-ay-double-el'.

In my mind, this used to happen a lot - I'm reasonably sure I could spell my name before I could pronounce it - and it's weird to say that three decades down the line I'm doing exactly the same thing.

Over and over and over.

This morning I went into the city to put deposits down on various presents for the upcoming double whammy of my children's birthdays (one in mid August, one early September). Obviously the shop assistant needed my details if she was going to hang onto the small pile of toys for me, so the time came when I needed to trot out the spelling phrase I learned by rote all those years ago.

After four attempts, she still couldn't get it, meaning I have to remember to be Mr B Campshirr when I go in to make the final payment.

I've seen just about every variation of spelling possible for my surname, from Kempshore to Cimpsill. A couple of months ago I nearly lost my reservation on a flight because I was using my driving licence as proof of identity for a name recorded as Mr P Kampshell. It's no wonder my wife was so reluctant to change her name from the far simpler 'Johnston' ('Is that with or without an "e"?').

Still, I've long since given up being exasperated about whether or not I've got one of those names that just invites misspelling. The point when I decided it's not my name, it's the people who hear it, was when I noticed an increase in the number of occasions on which I've given my first name as 'Pete' and received the same forehead-slapping response:

'How do you spell that?'


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I remember all so well Pete. In the end I would explain that the name originates from Kemp's Hall. The large estate owned by the Kemp family. Ah, the people would say Kemps hall, Eureka!

4:06 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Love hearing all your news from Oz.

5:10 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i can't really comment, having lived with Smith as a surname all my life. But i can sympathise in a small way since moving from Clapton Place (i got mighty sick of ordering my takeaway and having to say, "Clapton. As in Eric") to Bedford St. No one ever asks me how to spell Bedford. It seems anyone and everyone can spell Bedford!!! Well, so far anyway. I haven't really ordered much takeaway yet, so i'll keep you posted...

10:13 PM  

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