What's In A Name?

“What's in a name? That which we call a rose

By any other name would smell as sweet.”

'Romeo And Juliet', William Shakespeare

This week we started by reading the poem 'What are little girls and boys made of...' and discussed what are the real differences between the genders versus the stereotypical views commonly held. (We all agreed that men and women are more alike than different and that our unique personalities are what really differentiate us.) We talked about the common view that the age of chivalry is over and the blurring of gender boundaries and discussed whether equality was a good thing. (We all agreed that it was.)

We started by asking people if they liked their names? Did anyone have a preferred name or nickname?

We looked up the meaning of Christian names of those in the group on Google. (Simon means 'snub nosed'!)

We asked where people were born? We asked who had an accent, from where they were born and grew up.

We asked if anyone had a second language and asked for a few examples from those who did.

We asked about members heritage and ancestors. Did anyone have anyone or anything of interest in their family tree? This included if anyone had any 'blue blood' in their line, or if there were any 'skeletons in the closet' from times gone by.

We asked members how they would go about finding out about their family tree. Had anyone delved deep into their past?

Ideas for starting off on the journey of completing a family tree included ...

- Asking older relatives for information and interesting facts

- Downloading Ancestry.co.uk and searching there

- Looking at old family photograph albums

- Searching online for births, marriages and deaths

- Searching through census records

- Visiting graveyards

Next, we looked up the top 10 boys and girls names now, compared to 1957?


Michael Mary

James Susan

David Linda

Robert Debra

John Karen

William Cynthia

Mark Patricia

Richard Barbara

Thomas Donna

Steven Nancy


Aiden Sophia

Jacob Isabella

Jackson Olivia

Ethan Emma

Jayden Chloe

Noah Ava

Logan Lily

Caden Madison

Lucas Addison

Liam Abigail

We asked why certain names lose or gain popularity? We asked what members favourite names were and why?

We asked about members' surnames? Did anyone know where their name had originated? Was it a rare or common name? In which country did the name originate? (We looked this up on Google.)


Next, we asked members to complete the following phrases ... Be one of the LADS Old boy's NETWORK Big girl's BLOUSE Boy next DOOR Blue eyed BOY Couldn't happen to a nicer PERSON Cover GIRL Man FRIDAY Little boys/girls ROOM There's a good BOY Boy am I glad to SEE YOU Mummy's BOY All work and no play makes Jack a DULL BOY Boy oh BOY Boys will be BOYS Sort out the men FROM THE BOYS Girls just wanna HAVE FUN Adam’s APPLE Any Tom Dick OR HARRY Davey Jones LOCKER Even STEVENS For Pete's SAKE Simon SAYS Happy as LARRY Great SCOTT Hobson's CHOICE Jack of all TRADES Jack the LAD OR RIPPER Jekyll and HYDE Pandora's BOX Peeping TOM Smart ALEC Take the MICKEY Uncle SAM

Uncle Tom Cobley and ALL


To tie in with the opening picture and quotation ...

'Romeo and Juliet', Dire Straits - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mxfjSnMN88U

Who was William Shakespeare's wife, whose home remains in Stratford on Avon?


There are several Family Crest Finders on the internet. Here is a summary article https://genealogy.lovetoknow.com/where-can-i-find-my-family-crest

Before our session, and knowing the names of all of our members, we printed off their names Coats Of Arms ahead of time. Then together we set about designing our Coat Of Arms or Family Crest into a collage, adding bits of clip art and drawings to say a bit more about ourselves - our likes, hobbies, skills and talents. When members were happy with theirs, we laminated the collages for people to take home as a reminder of what we had got up to.

Here is my effort. Note references to holidays, wine, veganism and Kate Bush!


As we had started by reading that 'little girls are made of sugar and spice and all things nice', our next practical activity was sensory, based on tastes and smell linked to herbs and spices. We picked herbs from the garden and passed them around. We asked if anyone had ideas for how they could be used, e.g.

- mint tea/sauce/sweets - lavender pomander/floor polish - rosemary roasted potatoes/Pears Soap - basil pesto sauce/pizza topping - thyme stuffing - parsley sauce - fennel/anniseed Perno/Sambuca.

We did the same for spices, but this time it was about recognition of smells out of the spice rack. - vanilla ice cream/custard - nutmeg rice pudding - cinnamon Christmas pudding - cloves toothache/punch - garlic bread/pasta dishes

- ginger - often used in Chinese food (we discussed our favourites)

- curry leaves - various curries (we discussed our favourites).


'Sugar and Spice', The Searchers - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MA5kJAVFg2o


Next we enjoyed the 'Boys Names Music Quiz' & 'Girls Names Music Quiz'.

NB. With about 50 songs, you might want to do the quiz across two sessions, or reduce content, or just play short clips?

ROUND 1. Boy's Names

1. 'A Boy Named Sue', Johnny Cash - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WOHPuY88Ry4

We asked if anyone could think of gender neutral names used for both sexes?

2. 'The Killing of Georgie', Rod Stewart - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=95zxtaKQBBc

Can anyone think of the names of any famous gay people?

3. 'The Diary of Horace Wimp', Electric Light Orchestra - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PFU9HYyMVxQ

Can anyone name any famous diarists?

4. 'The Ballad of Davy Crockett', Bill Hayes - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fwxF0PA04zU

What did Davy Crockett famously wear on his head?

What was Davy Crockett king of?

5. 'Maxwell's Silver Hammer', The Beatles - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mJag19WoAe0

Can anyone name the basement club where The Beatles first found fame?

6. 'Jimmy Mack', Martha Reeves and The Vandellas - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6sJfGDpwyv0

Can anyone name any famous Jimmies?

7. 'Mack The Knife', Bobby Darin - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h8iPUK0AGRo

What is this song about?

8. 'Hit The Road Jack', Ray Charles - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q8Tiz6INF7I

What disability made Ray Charles' success even more amazing?

9. 'Alfie', Cilla Black - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=glpIgnmKrZc

What hit TV shows did Cilla Black have?

What were her catchphrases?

10. 'Right Said Fred', Bernard Cribbins - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r5XX9LX2es4

Which film did Bernard Cribbins star in, playing the part of a railway station porter?

11. 'Billy Don't Be A Hero', Paper Lace - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6RvG5bJsu5Q

Let's remind ourselves who our Heroes are? GO AROUND ROOM

12. 'Ben', Michael Jackson - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RntxCmqQqSA

Who was Ben?

13. 'Denis', Blondie - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ahGxiSV_LH0

Who is the lead singer of Blondie?

14. 'Making Plans For Nigel', XTC - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gXNhL4J_S00

Which Nigel starred in The Young Ones?

15. 'Oliver's Army', Elvis Costello - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LrjHz5hrupA

Can anyone name any famous Olivers?

16. 'You Can Call Me Al', Paul Simon - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uq-gYOrU8bA

What album was this song on?

17. 'Daniel', Elton John - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XbTIZkxjvk0

Who is Elton John's songwriting partner?

18. 'Vincent', Don McLean - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oxHnRfhDmrk

Which artist was this song about?

19. 'Danny Boy', Andy Williams - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8gOqSfJN_gA

Can anyone think of any Andy Williams hits?

20. 'Simon Says', 1910 Fruitgum Company - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TKZ1ey-HBqg

Stand up and let's follow the commands.


(Optional - Be aware questions may be triggering for some)


21. Which bird is said to bring the baby?

22. What colour clothing is associated with a girl or a boy?

What if the gender is not yet known?

23. Over what is the water poured on the baby's head at a Christening?

Who stands alongside the parents?

Discussion points:

For female members, what was giving birth like?

What was it like for the fathers?


24. What is a person's surname called if they no longer use it after marriage?

How is the maiden name referred to on formal documents?

25. What pulse or grain is thrown at a wedding?

What else can be thrown, which is more colourful?

26. What colour does the bride traditionally wear?

Who accompanies the bride down the isle?

27. What does she carry down the isle?

What is said to happen to the person who catches the bouquet when thrown by the bride?

28. When did same sex marriage become available in the UK?

29. Where would you go for a 'Quickie Wedding'?

What is a 'Shotgun Wedding'?

Discussion points:

Can anyone remember their first dance?

What were their dresses and flowers like?

What about their honeymoon?

Did any female members keep their maiden name, or choose for their name to be hyphenated with their husband's?


30. Where would you formally record a birth, marriage or death?

31. How do we remember those we have lost?

(Rosemary is the herb for remembrance)

32. What document formally states a person's wishes in respect of their property and assets?

Discussion point:

Has anyone been left anything substantial or significant in a Will?


33. What is a person called if they are found unconscious and admitted to hospital without identification?

34. What formal means of identification do we use?

ROUND 3. Girl's Names

35. 'Peggy Sue', Buddy Holly - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bfu_gfPBPWc

The day the music died (3rd Feb 1959 Buddy Holly died in a plane crash) was later referred to in the song American Pie by whom?

36. 'Wake Up Little Susie', The Everly Brothers - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v1fImXAeS-s

What usually wakes us up?

37. 'Annie's Song', John Denver - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3091MHksLM4

Which US State is Denver in?

38. 'Sweet Caroline', Neil Diamond - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jzXt7YvK9Hw

Can anyone think of any other precious stones?

39. 'Jolene', Dolly Parton - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ym12hnB7oZo

Where did Dolly Parton headline in 2014 and was accused of miming her performance?

40. 'Billie Jean', Michael Jackson - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zi_XLOBDo_Y

What was Michael Jackson's ranch called?

41. 'Oh! Carol', Neil Sedaka - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q1RtlMpYOeE

Where was Neil Sedaka laughing in another of his most famous songs?

42. 'Layla', Eric Clapton - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0WUdlaLWSVM

What was the name of his group?

43. 'Lola', The Kinks - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6CzrYXcXweI

What is the name of the musical based on the music of 'The Kinks'?

44. 'Ruby Tuesday', Rolling Stones - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ADtnUC_ctNk

How many years together is celebrated on a Ruby Anniversary?

45. 'Eleanor Rigby', The Beatles - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HuS5NuXRb5Y

Name the 'Fab Four'?

46. 'Mandy', Barry Manilow - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pFwCCmEA0Nk

What are Barry Manilow fans commonly referred to as?

47. 'Bette Davies Eyes', Kim Carnes -

Can anyone think of aNY Bette Davies films?

48. 'Cecilia', Simon & Garfunkel - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_NFIdgK7Qpw

What was Saint Cecilia the patron saint of?

49. 'Maggie May', Rod Stewart - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ulu-dlSyyWA

What is Rod Stewart's hobby?

50. 'Alison', Elvis Costello - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C9GlC9GyF4Y

Which group supported Elvis Costello?

51. 'Delilah', Tom Jones - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MIIU9xkGAMs

How old is Tom Jones?

52. 'Come on Eileen', Dexys Midnight Runners - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oc-P8oDuS0Q

Who was the lead singer?

What did members of this group most commonly wear?

53. 'Nellie The Elephant', Mandy Miller - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1F3Uhrj9YVI

Which elephants have the smaller ears, African or Indian?

54. 'Oh Susanna', James Taylor - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bdQSGjHOp7Y

Where did the singer come from, with his banjo on his knee?

55. 'Oh My Darling Clementine', The Sweptaways - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=twRr3ygK3TM

Can anyone think of other types of oranges?

56. 'On a Bicycle Built For Two', Nat King Cole - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0gDf7misJvk

What is the proper name for a bicycle built for two?


For our break we then had some ginger beer and cinnamon buns. (Lashings of ginger beer is from the Famous Five series of children's books by Enid Blyton. Timmy was their dog.)