It's been a good week for ...


What's in a name? Quite a lot if you're Icelandic. A 15-year-old girl has won a court battle for the right to use the name given her by her mother. Blaer Bjarkardottir will now be able to officially use her first name, which means "light breeze".

Loading article content

The powers that be had objected, saying it was not a proper feminine name. Iceland has very strict laws on names, which must fit the country's grammar and pronunciation rules.

Until now, Blaer had been identified simply as "Girl" in communications with officials.

Iceland has rigid limitations about how a baby can be named. Carolina, for example, is not allowed because the letter "C" is not part of Iceland's alphabet. Unisex names are also out – a double whammy for anyone called Chris.

Blaer's mother, Bjork Eidsdottir, said she hadn't realised Blaer was not one of the 1853 approved female names on the Icelandic Naming Committee's list. The panel said it was too masculine for a girl.

The wind must be different in Iceland. Having been buffeted by big macho Scottish gusts lately, I can't help thinking that the term "light breeze" is more than adequately dainty and girly.

If Blaer had been born a Scot, she may well have been named Gale.

It's been a bad week for ... gun-toting lords

Ermine is flying over the issue of the House of Lords rifle range. Lord Tyler, a former MP, has raised questions about who pays for the facility and how Parliament ensures the security of weapons used there for sport.

The fact it exists at all has come as rather a shock in itself. A perk for lords, ladies and MPs, the shooting gallery is located in the bowels of the Palace of Westminster. In a bid to find out if the cost of the range is a burden to taxpayers, Lord Tyler asked the Houses of Parliament authorities how much they spend on the rifle range each year. He was told it was not possible to calculate.

Lord Sewel, answering in the Lords, said the range uses minimal lighting and only incurs costs "in respect of that percentage of general estate costs which is paid for by the house".

The facility is rarely mentioned in Westminster records, but Hansard reveals it was refurbished in 1990.

Why all the mystery - and what else have they got hidden in the basement? Is there some sort of plot? Gunpowder has never gone down too well at the Houses of Parliament.