How To Change Your Identity & Become James Bond:

The American crooner, Frank Sinatra, claimed (in his 1969 hit song “My Way”) that he had “too few regrets to mention”. France’s Edith Piaf in 1960 (“Je ne regrette rien”) declared she had none at all. Likewise, Britain’s Robbie Williams with his 1998 single “No Regrets”. According to a recent British Heart Foundation (BHF) survey, however, more than 50% of people questioned spend at least two hours fifteen minutes each week wishing they’d made different “life decisions”.  At the top of the BHF list was “Not having travelled enough and seen more of the world” –  a complaint criticised by columnist India Knight (in the Sunday Times on 25th November) as  “utterly pointless whingeing” on the basis that “If you want to travel more, buy a plane ticket”. By contrast, the Daily Mail journalist, Emine Sinmaz, observed (on 22nd November) that this is not possible for everyone: “More than a third of us blame a lack of cash for preventing us from fulfilling our dreams”. The BHF’s No.2 was “Not keeping in touch with more friends from the past”, followed by “doing too little exercise, not saving enough money and taking up smoking. “Drinking too much alcohol” was at no.14, “Not learning to play a musical instrument properly” no 16 and “Choosing the wrong subjects at school or university” no. 18. 

Not mentioned by the BHF, however, was that some parents are apparently not at all happy in retrospect with their choice of name for their baby. As reported by the Daily Mail, many of those who opted for William, Oliver, Jack, Alfie or Thomas & (for girls) Chloe, Ruby, Olivia, Emily or Grace subsequently concluded that they had made a mistake. In these circumstances, there is a solution available: Before the child’s first birthday, the first name can be changed free of charge, though there will be a fee of £7- £10 for a new birth certificate . From one-year-old onwards, any change-of-name documentation will cost between £33-£50 depending on who (a solicitor or a registered organization) is processing the application. The consent of the child is not needed, nor can they change their name(s) without their parents’ agreement – until they reach the age of 16. After that, if (for example), the son of celebrity chef Jamie Oliver and his wife Jools no longer wants to be called “Buddy Bear”, he can do something about it. It’s an option which might eventually also appeal to Julia Roberts’ son “Phinnaeus”, actress Shannon Sossamon’s son “Audio Service”, singer Beyonce & rapper Jay Z’s daughter “Blue Ivy” and even “Harper Seven”, the daughter of David & Victoria Beckham.

Indeed, “Newslite TV” has noted that a “record number” of people in Britain are changing their names. Frequently, though, (the reverse of some celebrity off-spring) they go from the “sensible-sounding to the eccentric or even weird” – such as William George Knox-Gore from Swansea who switched to “Elvis Arron Presley”, Alan Tunnard from Southampton who became “Aston Martin” (the sports car associated with James Bond) and Edward Renard from Wandsworth who re-invented himself as “Danny Becks Beckham”. The “UK Deed Poll Service” emphasises that there is a wide variety of reasons (not just “for fun or to be unusual”) why people take this step, such as “anglicising their name to avoid discrimination (especially when seeking employment) thus making it easier to pronounce or (if they are entertainers) so they can formally use their stage name”. American actress Jennifer Aniston’s surname was originally “Anastassakis”,  Bruce Willis was born in Germany as “Walter Willison” and British actress Dame Helen Mirren (star of the film “The Queen” and the ITV detective series “Prime Suspect”) started life as “Ilynea Lydia Mironoff”.  Other motives may include those of couples who (on entering marriage or a civil partnership) want to either “double-barrel” (Jones-Smith) or combine (Jonsmith) their previous surnames.

A “Deed Poll” is defined by “Freedeedpoll.co.uk” as “ a style of legal contract relating to just one person, who is making a commitment to “abandon their old name, use the new one at all times and that everyone will be required to address them by the new name only”. The restrictions are that the new name must not be “impossible to pronounce”, cannot include punctuation marks, musn’t give the false impression that they have an honour, title rank or academic award (Sir, Lord, Lady, Baroness, Professor and others), has no more than “250 characters (including spaces)” and is not trying to “pass that person off as someone else”. There is no copyright protection for people’s names but, if someone converts to ‘Elton John’ and publishes songs in that name, the “real Sir Elton” could take legal action against them for “trade mark infringement”.

Most people, of course, keep the names they were given at birth. Data from the UK Office for National Statistics (ONS) indicates that “Harry” is currently the most popular baby name in England & Wales (up from position 3 last year) followed by Oliver (down one), Jack (down one), Alfie & Charlie (the same as before). “John” has dropped from 94 to 100. For girls, Amelia is at No.1 (up from 5), followed by Olivia (down one), Lily (up one), Jessica (up two) and Emily (down two).”Zoe” has plummeted from 84 to 92 and “Tia” from 79 to 95.

In South America, baby name preferences vary, depending on the country. Colombia’s “Registraduria Nacional” puts Santiago, Sebastian, Alejandro, Nicolas & Samuel in the top five for boys and Valentina, Mariana, Daniela, Natalia and Valeria for girls. In Venezuela, it’s said to be Sebastian, Santiago, Samuel, Diego & Gabriel; Camila, Isabella, Sofia, Victoria and Valentina. Argentina’s list is somewhat different: Benjamin, Jacob, Joaquin, Thiago, Ignacio for boys; Valentina at No 1 for girls, followed by Morena, Jazmin, Maria & Martina. For the region as a whole (asserts “studentsof theworld.com), the most popular baby names are: Lucas, Gabriel, Daniel, Diego & Matheus; Natalia, Carolina, Camila, Mariana & Juliana.

Filed under: Society | Posted on December 4th, 2012 by Colin D Gordon

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