Our choir conductor, the Redoubtable Muriel, tells us (a trifle wistfully, it seems to me) that she is feeling her age on account of the fact that the obituaries in the local papers seem to feature quite a lot of people
by the name of - Muriel. A sign of the times, she says.
Terry, in the back row of the men's section, comments, sotto voce, that at least she is still alive to read other Muriels' obituaries. Which is, of course,
true but is out of sync with Muriel's forebodings. Anyway at this point Muriel pulls herself together and announces that we are going to take a trip around the world, but without the need for passports or tiring air travel - we will travel tunefully, in song.
Bill and Eric, who sit at the other end of the back row from Terry, are engaged in conversation. From where I sit, in the Alto section (along with all the other Failed Sopranos) I can't exactly hear what they are talking
about. The Redoubtable Muriel doesn't care what they are talking about, what she objects to is that people are talking when she is talking. She sits down, folds her arms and waits for us all to fall silent.
is hard to argue with her, we are a talkative lot. Muriel reckons that somehow or other our fingers are connected to our tongues. Hence, when she asks us to find a particular song in our red files, we seem unable to resist chatting as we flick through the
pages of songs. What, she asks, do we find to chat about? You can tell that she really wants to know. She suggests that maybe I, with my Way With Words (an alternative to Berners Lee's www) could come up with a song about our gossiping habits. I have accepted
the challenge and will put my mind to it over the next couple of weeks. I am contemplating something to the tune of Coconut Calypso. Well, I may as well set myself a proper challenge, don't you think?
say, don't they, that you can often tell a person's age by their name. I wonder when and why Muriel was a popular monicker? When the Youngest of the Darling Daughters was born we called her Karen. Cool, smart, of Scandinavian origin - so very unusual. Or so
I, the proud new mother, thought. It turned out that it was one of the Top Ten girls names of the Seventies. Such a pity that nobody told me.
Did you hear about the horse named Brian? The powers that be apparently
decided it wasn't a sufficiently heroic name for a horse and re-christened it Hercules. Mr B's name is Brian and it is fair to say he has struggled with it at times, especially when people spell it wrongly as "Brain". Then there was Brian the Snail of Magic
Roundabout fame - though let's face it, the Magic Roundabout was something of a cult. However that was followed by a TV advert where a small girl on a swing volunteered the information that "You know EVERYTHING Brian!" Poor Mr B was haunted by that advert
for years. It must have been a popular name in its time because we know lots of Brians. Presumably they all know, well, EVERYTHING.
My eldest grandson, Jack, was named after me. What greater compliment can
there be, than to have a child named after you? I count it as an honour and a privilege. What Jack thinks about it is another matter; being named after your Nan may not seem such a great deal. Except that I was named after my Uncle Jack, who was an amazing
man, an entrepreneur, an inventor and a man of vision. So Young Jack can, indeed, be proud of being named after such a great man, albeit once removed.
The old names are coming back into fashion in any case.
I am still waiting, however, for the return of Mildred, Maud and, yes, Muriel.
As for my name, Jacqueline, it doesn't ever seem to have been either in fashion or out of fashion. Though there is Jacqueline Wilson,who
is about the same Great Age as I am. I think it may have floated into nominal consciousness again in the Jacqueline Kennedy era but then it, just as quickly, floated out again.
In sixty, seventy years time
the obituary columns will be full of Kylies and Kais and the like, while in nurseries across the land, mothers will be cuddling baby Muriels. What goes round, comes round.
Like Brian the Snail on the Magic Roundabout.