Baby naming for idiots, squirrel shenanigans and Bunga Bunga in Budapest


I remember the pure torture of choosing names for my precious offspring.

My own unusual name has always been both a pleasure and a pain – it's nice to be a bit different, it's not quite so nice to spend half your working life explaining to people how to pronounce your name. Stacia as in fascia, not Stacia as in Stay-cee-ah.

It's virtually impossible to write a limerick with my name in it, I can't get novelty personalised keyrings off the peg for love nor money, people ask me daily if my name is short for Anastasia (tiresome) and my full moniker is posher than a hamper full of tiaras.

Sometimes, when people try and pronounce my name, it's as if they're vomiting up the alphabet in Welsh.

When I came to naming my own children, my main concern was that their names would be short: it takes me about five minutes to sign a till receipt for cash-back and longer if I have to spell out the whole thing on an official document.

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I also wanted their names to be so easy to spell that even the most basic window-licker could get to grips with them; something that couldn't be shortened to something hateful (like Stacey) names that were both interesting and simple at the same time.

To be honest, entrusting the lifelong legacy that is a forename to a half-crazed, hormonal harpy who last saw her toes three months ago, sucks chunks of coal and has basically regressed to a toddler prone to tantrums and limited bladder control, is a bit of a duff move for all concerned.

Really, we should find a time when we're of sound mind and body, write down some suitable names, seal them in an envelope and open them on the delivery floor to rapturous applause.

As it was, I called my daughter Ruby because I was sky-high on pethidine when she was born and thought I'd delivered a giant tomato and called my son Cole, because the night before he was born I'd watched one of those '100 Greatest' programmes on Channel 4 and it'd featured Cole Porter.

Obviously, I overrode their father: two of his suggestions for a boy were Otis and Tiger – I may have been a half-crazed, hormonal harpy, but I wasn't entirely insane.

This week, a couple in Tel Aviv announced that they'd named their daughter 'Like', after a button that allows users to express their approval of links, photographs and status updates on Facebook.

Lior Adler and his wife Vardit said they had been looking for a name that was 'modern and innovative'. They hadn't looked for long, obviously, or they'd have chosen Seagate GoFlex 500GB Drive, instead.

'In our opinion, it's the modern equivalent of the name Ahava (love). It's just my way of saying to my fantastic daughter, 'Love',' said Mr Adler's father.

Except it isn't, really – 'like' may be a versatile little word which can be used as a noun, verb, adverb, adjective, preposition, particle, conjunction, hedge, interjection and quotative (hark: the English teacher's daughter speaks!) but it's the verbal equivalent of 'nice', one of the dullest words in the history of language.

Nice. Yawn. The only nice thing about 'nice' is that it stops idiots from overusing more hateful words like 'awesome' and 'fab'.

This important consideration aside, the word summons up an awkward conversation in which the object of your passionate ardour dismisses you by pointing out that you're 'nice' and they 'like' you but, on the whole, they'd rather date a rabid warthog.

Without putting too fine a point on it, Like's parents have form for this kind of nonsense: one daughter is called Vash, Hebrew for honey, and the other is called Pie, English for pie. In the face of pie, Like is like a pie in the face.

'When I posted her picture and name on Facebook, I got 40 'likes',' said Mr Adler.

'Considering that I have only a little more than 100 friends on the network, that's a lot.'

Except, again, it isn't, really. Forty per cent is an E at A level, one per cent off a total fail, both literally and in the language of Facebook youth.

Personally, I'm only sorry that my family is complete, because I like the sound of 'Flag As Abusive' or 'Comment' as baby names, and I can't imagine a single situation in which either name choice would ever come back to haunt me.

* The giant tomato is 13 today – happy birthday, Ruby!


Some more bad news this week – apparently sexism in the workplace is still rife and appearance counts for more than ability.

Bad times. On a good day, I look as if I've stumbled in from a grave-digging shift, on a bad day I look as if I've stumbled into a grave and tried to paper over the damage with lipgloss.

In a new survey, half the women questioned said that the glass ceiling still exists and 44 per cent said that a male colleague had made an inappropriate comment about their appearance. It's easy to spot someone's appearance through a glass ceiling, given that it's transparent.

The questionnaire found that 78 per cent of respondents felt that being attractive helps women get on the career ladder. I find that not being particularly attractive helps me get on real ladders, especially because these days I'm too slovenly to paint my nails.

On the whole, I'd rather look at attractive people while I'm at work on the basis that my other view is of a pair of blinds and a pub car park.

Luckily, I work at the Evening News, so I work with people so devastatingly attractive that they've had to sign contracts promising not to move into television lest their glory dazzle the entire of East Anglia and cause them to bump into walls and tables.

Somehow, I slipped through the net, which is why I sit in a corner, staring at a pub car park all day and am only allowed to look at the staff squirrel, who regularly defecates on a tree which I can just about make out between the cars.

I find the fact that there's still sexism in the workplace so depressing that it makes Sophie's Choice look like a sitcom. If you're a sexist, stop it. If you're a victim of sexism, stop them. And if you've been mistaking sexist for sexiest, get a dictionary.


A German insurance firm has admitted rewarding its 100 best salesman with a prostitute-filled 'sex party' in a Hungary's most famous thermal baths.

The company rented out the Budapest baths and turned them into an 'open air brothel' complete with 20 sex workers who were 'colour-coded' to indicate which men were allowed to have sex with them.

Presumably there were no women in the top 100. Either that, or they were all at home getting the tea on and polishing the glass ceiling.

The women wearing white ribbons were reserved for 'the very best salespeople and executives' and were then given an ink stamp on their forearms to show how popular they'd been with the guests.

The Germans? Branding people with numbers? I've never heard such nonsense.

It's always really annoyed me that people in sales get incentives – no one sounds a horn or offers me a bottle of Champagne when I successfully manage to write a story and no one has offered to take me to a prostitute-filled sex party.

I mean I probably wouldn't have gone if they did. But I'd like to have been asked.

A spokesman said: 'It is true that in June 2007 an incentive trip took place in Budapest. Our research has discovered that during an evening event during this trip, around 20 prostitutes were present.

'The incident was a clear violation of company policy.'

All I hope is that the prostitutes were rewarded with incentives for having to sleep with top insurance salespeople – preferably with a promise that they'd never have to do it again.