It had been a long time coming but a recent chance encounter while queuing for a milkshake led to me fulfilling a lifetime’s ambition: I met another Blaise.
It might not appear much to all you Brians and Emmas out there but when your moniker is as unusual as mine then it is almost life affirming when you meet a namesake. I have always known I am not all on my own – there are plenty of Frenchmen, including an international footballer, and even women from across the globe who share my name. And we have our own patron saint, one who gives protection to wool combers and pigs and brings relief to sore throats. Scout’s honour.
While it led to plenty of leg pulling during my school days, being a bit different largely has its advantages: people remember you and the story behind the name can be an icebreaker. Mine isn’t that interesting – I was named after the brother of a childhood friend of my mother.
On the downside I have spent what seems like a lifetime spelling ‘myself’ out to other people, not that it makes much of a difference as I am frequently called Blaine, Brady or, my personal favourite, Blade.
While I might not be a Boy Called Sue, life would have been much more straightforward if I had been christened James Jones.
It was all of these minor frustrations which made my maiden encounter with a fellow Blaise all the more satisfying. I had only popped into the shop in question for a Dime Bar smoothie but what I came out with was a minor sense of achievement. The poor lad can’t have been much older than seven and looked bemused when this flabby-faced northerner informed both he and his folks that we shared a name.
That moment reaffirmed my view that it is good to stand out from the crowd which is something I am striving to achieve for my unborn son, although I am not sure it is an argument I am going to win.
My personal favourite, Hero, is apparently too off-the-wall, while Horatio, I am told, may result in us raising a child who could well turn out to be a pipe smoking eccentric.
I cannot win and I have no idea what I will be frantically shouting in the local park in the not-so-distant future when I realise that I have momentarily misplaced a lively toddler.
Whatever my boy is called will certainly have some bearing on how he turns out – I am certain that I would not have been nearly as gobby if I had been named Wilf, which was my father’s choice. There are some things for which I am very grateful.