People who are expecting a baby spend an incredible amount of time talking about what to call it. This is probably a diversion away from difficult questions, such as: “What if I’m bad at being a parent, and society shuns me?” or: “What if this ruins our relationship, which is currently very beautiful?” As such, the naming debate is a brilliant one. The rest is way too hard.
Newsflash, though: it doesn’t actually matter what you call your child. The baby is bigger than the word. As soon as that is its name, that is its only possible name. For ages, you’ll think your baby is the one true carrier of the name, and everyone else called Mathilda is faking it.
So, anyway, 16 and a bit years ago, my previous husband and I were having a conversation that lasted at least a fortnight, which I now realise was needless. He wanted to call our son Thurston; I had other ideas. What about Bruno? Nope, because of Bruno Brookes. Or Kit? Impossible, as there had been a kid in someone’s primary school called that, who was a tearaway. I was basically resisting because I felt as if it would make the child a hostage to fortune. What if he was nothing like Thurston Moore of Sonic Youth? What if he wanted to grow up not cool, not into guitars, without that cerebral vibe; what if he wanted to be stocky, and into stock car racing?
What swung me in the end was when my husband said we could shorten it to Thirsty, and then he would make a good sports journalist. I rolled over as soon as I realised how attached he was to the idea. You’re very soft when you’ve just had a baby; I don’t know if anybody’s ever noticed that before.
Anyway, so here he is, 16 years old, and Thurston is of course the only name he could ever have had. Last week his namesake was appearing in conversation with Stewart Lee at London’s Queen Elizabeth Hall, with an autobiography that is brilliant, by the way. I made my Thurston go with me, and he did, because he’s very considerate. You want to know what’s weird? They’re exactly alike: tall, sandy, lanky, guitary, lovely manners. That’s just how Thurstons are.