THE BLOG

In Defence Of Having An Unusual Name...

24/02/2016 12:59 GMT | Updated 24/02/2017 10:12 GMT

A few weeks ago I was sat in a comedy club, when, much to my dread, the compere clamped eyes on me and decided to ask me a few questions.

It didn't take him long to strike gold, finding material that he could use to ridicule me and make the audience laugh.

Compere: "Hey, you in the striped top, what's your name?"

Me: "Brogan."

Compere: "Brogan, that's unusual. What does it mean?"

Me: "Umm [cue laughing from my housemate who knew what I was in for]... it means leather shoe."

I'm pretty sure you can imagine how the rest of the exchange went so I won't try to recount it, but rest assured it was pretty hilarious.

Etymologically speaking, 'Brogan' is an Irish surname. It means leather shoe, yes just like the brown brogues you may be wearing on your feet. It is used as a first name, mainly for males, but there are a lot of females (hello!) who have this name, too.

I have to explain the origins of my name almost every time I meet someone new - most make positive noises, while (very few) others draw resemblance to the Australian term 'bogan', which is a nasty way to describe someone as an "unfashionable, uncouth, or unsophisticated person, regarded as being of low social status".

So when my name appeared in a 2016 list of the most 'bogan' names, written by someone who is completely unqualified to make comments about other people's names - I mean, is anyone qualified to? - I had to say something.

Sabrina Rogers-Anderson has insisted that her lists (yes, there is more than one) are "celebrating the original, quirky, sometimes cute and sometimes crazy character of these bogan names".

But, given the definition of 'bogan', it doesn't seem so well-meaning. She's Down Under's answer Katie Hopkins, who infamously criticised all manner of names on ITV's This Morning.

The criteria for choosing such names seems to be none other than Sabrina's own prejudice, taking real people's names to insult both the individual and their parents.

Many of the names are spelling variations of more common names (Jason = Jathon), amalgamations of two names (Cheryl and Geraldine = Cheryldine) and spelling names backwards (Divine = Enivid).

Mine seems to be on there simply because it sounds like 'bogan', completely ignoring its Irish heritage.

As I said at the beginning, I have no problem with people making light-hearted jokes about my name - I can laugh at myself and I hope others with odd names can do the same.

What I do have a problem with are thoughtless lists that poke fun of people. Thankfully I can publicly defend myself (and Brogans), but there will be countless Zabryn, McKyla and Evers who can't.

Despite having to repeat my name a thousand times over and deal with the odd sneer at leather shoe, having an unusual name has and continues to serve me well.

When I meet people they remember who I am, when people hear or read my name it locks in their memory. My parents knew this when they named me, it was a calculated decision, and that counts for a hell of a lot more than a snarky list.

If and when I do have children, I'll make their names memorable too.