Time to take a little tea with lovely Aunt ‘Uggy’

grannie and granddad

I never had a nickname, and of that I am glad. I find it a bit off-putting to come upon a mature man with the name ‘Skippy’. I’m also happy to not be a ‘junior’ since that implies the person is not an individual in his own right. In truth I think to name a son or daughter after a parent is an exercise in either vainglory or lack of imagination on the parents’ part.

I might add, though, if you are a junior or sport a nickname it doesn’t mean I have a diminished regard for you. Just to make that clear.

I am also playing a bit fast-and-loose with the truth here. For I do have a nickname, but it is my ‘Granddad Nickname.’ My dear and long-departed grandfather had a habit of giving all his children and grandchildren names of his choosing and names that might not resemble their actual nomenclature. Indeed there was sometimes little logic to them, but he always used them.

So, for point-of-interest, my name was (to him) Iany. Not very inspired, I will warrant. My cousin Bruce was Broois-Woois, and my brother, Colin became Collins, as opposed to my American cousin Colleen, who was known to him as The Seattle Collins.

The ones who truly felt the brunt of his bizarre namings, however, were his own kids, and some of the titles he stuck them with were not always complimentary. His oldest daughter Vivian (who was inclined to pudginess as a child) was Tubby. His second daughter, Helen, (a lovely lady) was stuck with Uggy. I asked my mother about that one. She said when his 2nd child, who turned out to be a girl, to his disappointment, a Sikh handyman around his place suggested that if he wanted to sire a boy he should give his daughter an insulting name so that his next child would be male. Consequently, Uggy arose from Ugly Boy.

And lo-and-behold it seemed to have worked for his next child (and his namesake of Robert) was male and was ever after known to his father as Boy. Next he had another daughter, Audrey (aka Rory), then my mother, Barbara, known to him as Evan, evidently from a favorite Welsh song of his; then my uncle Basil (known as Bay and I have no idea why), and his youngest child, Hugh, who ended up being named Tooey-Boy.

I gather, though, that such nicknaming was common in Victorian and Edwardian times. I think I was well past early childhood before I know my grandmother’s name (Beatrix), since my grandfather called her Trixie (understandable) but everybody else called her Tita, which evidently came from a favorite aunt of hers who was a Spaniard.

Oh, and my grandmother also used her husband’s names for her kids, including, unfortunately, Tubby and Uggy.

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14 responses to “Time to take a little tea with lovely Aunt ‘Uggy’

  1. Wow…and I thought my grandmother’s affectionate nickname for me, Pookie, was bad enough…Imagine on the day of her memorial service discovering that my grandfather’s nickname for his eldest daughter, my mother, was Boochie…Not a name I ever heard growing up and I cannot imagine her allowing anyone to call her that…

  2. Nicknames…I have not had any that stuck when I was young. Some guys would call me Pinkie because I blushed so easily Luckily it did not stick. 7 Years ago when my best friends grandson was born, I was dubbed to be their Nana Rose and now both children call me Nana Rose (the youngest @ 4 pronouncing it Wose) and I am their 3rd grandma as far as they are concerned.

  3. I hope you’re kidding that you don’t know why Basil was Bay. As for nicknames, I have had many. Some I have liked, and some I’ve struggled to get out from under. My favorites are ‘Smiley’, ‘Reno’ and ‘Kansas’. Only one man ever called me Kansas and he was very sweet and I truly miss him now that he has passed on. My grandmother was named Veronica and everyone always called her Bonnie. My kids I call by nicknames because their proper names sound too big for little boys, and one of them is a Jr. I wasn’t feeling very creative when I named him, it’s true. I think that’s it. Anyway, love you Iany!

  4. My father named me for
    A) my mother
    and
    B) one of his sisters.

    I have never been impressed by this.

  5. My nicknames have been pretty much variations on my own name, shortened, but never anything interesting – except that one person did start calling me Conchita at one point… I’m not quite sure how that started.

  6. My “grandfather nickname” was Charlie. Still makes me tear up. Thanks for the story and the happy, sniffy memories.

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