My name is Teddy and I am no longer unique.
Maybe I never was. But for many years I thought the only Teddys in the world were myself and Teddy Sheringham. People had to ask me to repeat my first name every time because it was so unusual. (Okay, maybe that had something to do with my fading Northern Irish accent asserting itself and slurring my own name; the first time I meet nearly anyone they think I'm called "Terry".) As a name, Teddy was unusual. It was why people remembered me. It was possibly the only reason people remembered me.
Alas, Teddy Sheringham and I are rare no longer. Because for the first time in my lifetime (or as long as I've been paying attention to such things), the name Teddy has turned up in the top 100 most popular names for boys. Admittedly it's well down the list. Number 86 to be exact. Hardly on a par with Oliver, Jack, or Muhammad, but still ... A generation from now there will be politicians and doctors and soldiers called Teddy. And the world will be a better place, because you can't really be aggressive and boorish and nasty if you're called Teddy. Unless you're overcompensating. (And actually now that I come to think of it, the only Teddy in literature I ever came across was a serial rapist in an Elmore Leonard thriller. I like to think Elmore had never met a Teddy in real life).
I am certain more Teddys in the world will be a good thing. But, you know, I kind of liked it when there was just myself and Teddy S. Oh, admittedly in recent years there's been the singer Teddy Thompson too, but even then it felt like there was room for all of us.
Indeed, there was a pleasant sense of familiarity about the conversation that would result when I told anyone my first name. "Your name is Terry? Oh, Teddy. Like Teddy Bear. Is it short for Theodore? Ah, Edward. Not Ted then? Your dad's name, I see. Did you know that there's an item of women's lingerie called Teddy? Oh you did. Well, nice to meet you."
But 20 years from now - if I'm still about - no-one is going to linger on my name. I'll just be another of the many Teddys in the world. My USP will have been downgraded. My name won't mark me out. It will be the name with a Primark label rather than a Prada one. No longer will I be able to claim to be the one and only Teddy I know (other than Teddy Sheringham).
Maybe I should give myself a new name, one that differentiates me from all these Teddy-come-latelys. I could always go with Terry. At least I can pronounce that.
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