All entries for Thursday 06 January 2005

January 06, 2005

On the passing of Humphrey Carpenter

Writing about web page

I learnt of Mr Carpenter's death yesterday whilst listening to Radio 3's In Tune, of which he was a former presenter. I haven't been a Radio 3 listener for long enough to remember him on that particular show, but I shall certainly miss his soothing, friendly yet slightly mischievous vioce on Radios 3 and 4. It was the latter that he had worked for most in recent years, presenting a programme called Brief Lives, which was essentially a biography/obiturary programme, a medium to which he was particularly suited as he had written several.

On Radio 3 he established In Tune, the "drivetime" show on the network, and created the sort of relaxed but knowledgable atmosphere I can only dream of when presenting on RaW (Wednesday 7pm and Monday 11pm, if you're interested). The programme has gone from strength to strength in the same vien with its current presenters. In fact Sean Rafferty seems to me a bit like an Irish version of Carpenter. He also pioneered Night Waves, a nightly Arts programme, which is so unashamedly high-brow it could hardly be made anywhere but on the BBC.

The amusing thing was, when looking for his obituary on the BBC website, I struggled to find it, as its title referred to the writer of the Mr Majeika children's stories. I confess I didn't know this, but did know he edited the Oxford companion to Children's Literature. He was also a talented musician ona variety of instruments. So, an exceptional broadcaster, writer and musician, knowledgable in all areas of the arts, and indeed religion (His father was Bishop of Oxford) – a polymath if ever there was one.

I have considered attempting getting into radio, and as I mentioned above, present on RaW. If I could ever be like Humphrey Carpenter, I would be happy, and need go no further. The loss to British radio to my mind is as big as when John Peel died. He may not have been as well known, but there are some people will miss him terribly. I am one.

Times Biography

On the naming of Children

Writing about web page

Today (Or rather, as I'm up quite late, yesterday) the list of the most popular names given to new-born babies was released. The big noise was that the UK has a Muslim population significant enough to get Mohammed into the top 20. But this is not what I want to talk about.

The top boys' name is Jack, as it has been for several years. Among the top 10 for girls is Katie.
I think names are very important. They give a first impression. There are certain names that might be considered "lower class", and thus if you heard that name you would expect the bearer to be from that stratum of society. Similarly, there are "upper class" or "posh" names.
Names can be more subtle, and some names have a variety of shortenings. Each of these, and their spellings give different effects. For example, a former girlfriend of mine was called Nicola. She went by the name Nicky, but not Nikki. It is therefore quite useful to have name which can be shortened, as you can then use your name in different ways to give a different impression. Many people know me as Andy, but if I generally call myself Andrew, and certainly would do for say, a job application.
However, the thousands of people called Jack and Katie don't have this option, and are stuck with one name. I reckon this is largely because people these days don't realise "Jack" is a diminutive of "John". I say give your children a full name. They can become a Jack later if they wish.
The BBC has a picture series of famous Jacks. The first, Jack Nicholson, was born John. Jack Charlton was originally Jackie. Jack Straw's first two names are Jack John, which is a little unusual, but he could get away with being John if he wanted. Jack Kerouac's real name was Jean-Louis. Jack Lemmon's given name was John. Jack White is really a John. Jack Black's real name is, apparently, Thomas. That's at least 7/10 (Not including Mr Straw, and I couldn't find out about Jack Dee) who aren't actually Jack. You see my point – all these new Jacks can never be John. The same goes for Katie – and Katherine is such a beautiful name, too.

Diminutives aside, counting Jack as John, 7 from the top 10 male names are biblical (If anyone knows a bibilical Oliver or William, let me know). That's pretty good going for traditional names. So if all these biblical names are good enough, what's wrong with John? And whatever happened to Andrew, anyway?

One last musing – Nathan has survived as a name, Solomon less so admittedly, but even so – where are all the Zadoks?!

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