George is seen as a farmer, dependable, a hard worker
It has been a great week to be a George. As you may have noticed, our numbers have been swelled by one and our standing has been transformed.
Several people have run up to congratulate me, as if the choice of the royal name was my doing, and indeed I can now reveal my small part in this grand event.
For years, I have been the brains behind a clandestine campaign to restore the fortunes of this great name. I sidle up to expectant mothers with a ten pound note and offer it as a small christening present if they decide to name their baby George.
I had problems with access on this occasion and spent many sleepless nights pondering with the kind of sweetener might be appropriate for a royal couple to persuade them to adopt my favourite name.
I always confident that they would do the noble thing and, on Wednesday evening last week, I cracked a bottle of champagne to toast the arrival of Prince George. I will be sending the customary £10 note.
When I launched my campaign, George languished low in the list of popular boys names. Whilst other traditional names like Thomas and Edward rose up the charts again, for some strange reason George remained a party pooper. Thanks to my efforts, George has risen up the ranks to No 12 in the league chart of boys names. There will be no stopping us Georges now.
I funded research into the connotations behind the name. George is seen as dependable, a farmer, a hard worker but my focus groups revealed the painful truth that too many young parents saw us Georges as boring, old fashioned and curmudgeonly.
Note that Prince Harry is quoted as saying he will teach his nephew “to have fun”. I dread to think what Uncle has in mind. Does he think that us Georges do not have fun?
Some of my alumni have not helped the cause either. Whilst brilliant in their different ways Brown, Best, Bush and Boy all blotted their copybooks. Eddie was uninspiring and Cluny too American.
The low point in my campaign was the moment that Asda launched its George brand. The name would forever be associated with cheap, and by implication, smelly underpants. A chance to reposition the name was missed when a company embodying great British values in contemporary clothing went for Jack Wills instead.
For several years, I hung out in cheap cafes in Edinburgh and thereby had some hopes that a new childhood hero would emerge as George Potter. To no avail. The fun loving and mercurial Harry, another royal name, was chosen instead.
But I saw a link. I needed royal patronage and have no doubt that the great name will now shoot up the ratings. 2014 will be the year of George. My phone has not stopped ringing over the last few days with offers of sponsorship deals.
George was always a front runner for a royal name. It is the most popular name of an English king and has the patronage of our national saint. It has recently been named as the national football training ground though I have to admit the brand is tainted through its adoption by far right groups.
The creeping modernity of the monarchy also worried me. Clearly someone has been working on their brand image and may well have been advising that Justin, Wayne or Bradley would reposition them.
There is still a danger that the baby may become known by his second name as ‘Alex’, which was reported to be a favourite name with his mother. It would be a clever move that could unite the nation and scupper Scottish independence.
It has not been easy being a George. Taunted in the playground as Georgie Porgy, derided on the cricket field when on one occasion the bowler at the other end was called Fred, and regularly taken as someone much older and more staid than I am, I have struggled with my self image as a George. I considered founding George Anon.
It has been lonely being George. It is rare to find a namesake and when I do, the back slapping quickly gives way to an honest discussion of what our parents had in mind in giving this name. In my case, I was named after my father which was just the best thing to do in the circumstances.
To my mind, the Windsors would now be well advised to skip a couple of generations. The Elizabethan Age would give way to the Age of George. I just hope I am around to bask in its glory.
After all the excitement and flag waving that followed the announcement on Wednesday night, the morning swim at Prudhoe Waterworld on Friday was a quieter affair. The staff had kindly provided breakfast for the early birds on the second anniversary of the death of Ruth Fletcher. Ruth was an experienced diver who died in a freak accident off the coast at Bamburgh. She was a great character who encouraged us all and made the left hand lane of the pool her own.
Apart from the customary ‘Good Morning Gordon’, the early birds rarely talk to each other. There is the occasional exchange about holidays, ailments and children at the end of the lane or under the shower but, for the most part, we just swim.
But there is a touching sense of community among the regulars which was apparent over the croissants and bacon rolls before we all went off to work or the golf course, which also reflects well on a great organisation in Leisure Tynedale. There is more to swimming than meets the eye.
George Hepburn is Warden of Shepherds Dene http://www.shepherdsdene.co.uk