Terms of Endearment

Persephone & Demeter, Susan Seddon Boulet

I have had many nicknames over the years, from the inevitable adolescent reflections on my anatomy, an avenue we will not explore here thank-you-very-much, to the classically inspired… and just about everything in between.  Most have had a literary inspiration, when I think about it. My sons long ago began to look down from their lofty heights and call me a hobbit. That one has not only stuck but appears to have taken root and is now applied by many friends worldwide. I want it on record that this refers solely to my vertically challenged state… I do not have hairy feet. And they are tiny. Though it is true I am seldom seen with shoes and I have an inordinate passion for mushrooms and my Shire, where the roots go very deep.

I may have Peter Jackson to thank for a lucky escape. There was a moment when it looked like I might, for similar reasons of vertical poverty, be known as the Ewok. My eldest son occasionally calls me slave… from whence it took no great leap of the imagination to transform me to a house-hobbit. This backfired somewhat when he inadvertently gave me a T-shirt in lieu of a sock, but at least he seldom calls me Dobby.

When I was very young my grandfather had several ‘pet’ names for me, all from the ancient myths… which was, I suppose, the start of my introduction to mythology. Persephone… that was the earliest myth I remember learning… an appropriate name for a young maid although it is dark story for a child on first glance. I remember listening to my grandfather tell the tale while I was eating pomegranates… a rarity and a luxury in those far-off days in Yorkshire. However, he didn’t just tell the story, he explained it, teaching me how the story links to the seasons and the deeper reasoning of life, death and rebirth, going deeper still through the Eleusinian mysteries, to initiation and the journey of the soul. Looking back from here, the links between that story and what and how we teach within the Silent Eye seem extraordinarily prophetic.

Sometimes my grandfather called me Penelope… and from there I learned the story of Odysseus. My home city was a mill town and between the weaving of the shroud and one of the roots of the name Penelope being ‘weft’, I suppose it was appropriate; it is odd but we accept these names and seldom question them. His other name for me came after he had shown me a door in a mirror. He called me Carya. I had almost forgotten that until I began to write. I remember no legend, only that she was a seer. I had to smile looking it up when I read ‘daughter of Dion’, a name associated with I path I have walked since my childhood and a book my grandfather himself gave me, The Mystical Qabalah.

Illustration Pauline Baynes

Lucy and Mr Tumnus. Illustration Pauline Baynes

My given name was never, ever used unless I was in deep trouble. My family just called me Susie… yet my mother always called me Lucy. I owe that one to C.S. Lewis… a firm favourite, read over and over again… and, I admit, still read with love today. A little odd when the other girl in the Narnia stories already shared my name. Why? I never thought to ask. Perhaps because I believed in things that ‘weren’t there’, like the door to another world that waits to be stepped through or the Lion who gets bigger the more you grow.

I have been given other names. Some, I must own, wholly unsuitable for polite society. There was La Tomate and Yorksheere in Paris,  Bibiche in Corsica, Suzanne to friends in France who invariably quoted Leonard Cohen.  I married the man who sang that song to me one night… and that led me to the most beautiful names… Mum and eventually, Grandma.

It never stops. We are many things to many people… son and father, daughter and mother… friend, lover, colleague or playmate. We all have many roles and every person will see us in a unique way. Perhaps that is why we end up with so many names. They are powerful things, defining and reflecting, almost creating and giving life. Most of them we give ourselves, deliberately or inadvertently.

There have been a couple of relatively recent acquisitions too, again with what one could call literary associations. Wen and Don are not portraits of the authors of The Initiate and Heart of Albion… but the majority of the conversations are ours and reported more or less verbatim. No surprise then that Wen… and every conceivable variant of the name’s origins… seems to have stuck, which is rather nice. With the possible exception of the evil Wendolina hobbit, generally and liberally applied when I am pointing a camera in my co-writer’s direction…

One of my favourite’s though, I brought entirely upon myself. Over a beer one Sunday. I should have known better.  Terms of endearment come in all shapes and sizes. Even diminutive ones.

Wen and I are uncomfortably ensconced in the beer garden of The Old Horns Inn.

Uncomfortable because the High in Bradfield means high enough to be extremely windy and February is probably not the best time of the year to be in a beer garden in Albion.

Still, it is sunny in spite of the cold and the view is certainly impressive, but as I shiver into my pint, I tuck myself further down into my jacket and gasp as another icy blast of wind whips my breath away.

I suppose I ought to be thankful that it is not raining.

Wen hardly seems to notice.

She likes high, cold and windy places and she appears to be in full flow, her red locks flickering in the gusty wind like flames.

“We’ve burrowed ourselves into the land like two little grubs,” she announces, looking out over the valley with a winsome smile and more than a hint of heady triumphalism.

“You speak for yourself,” I say, hunkering even further down into my inadequate jacket, “I’m no little grub.” Doomsday: The Aetheling Thing

language_pub_grub600pix

About Sue Vincent

Sue Vincent is a Yorkshire-born writer and one of the Directors of The Silent Eye, a modern Mystery School. She writes alone and with Stuart France, exploring ancient myths, the mysterious landscape of Albion and the inner journey of the soul. Find out more at France and Vincent. She is owned by a small dog who also blogs. Follow her at scvincent.com and on Twitter @SCVincent. Find her books on Goodreads and follow her on Amazon worldwide to find out about new releases and offers. Email: findme@scvincent.com.
This entry was posted in Books, france and vincent, Goddess, Heart of Albion, Humour, Lord of the Rings, Mythology, Spirituality, Tolkein and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

57 Responses to Terms of Endearment

  1. anita dawes says:

    A rose by any other name…

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  2. acflory says:

    I’ve often thought that we should have baby names until we’re old enough to choose something for ourselves. :/

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Mary Smith says:

    I enjoyed this, Sue. In one of the exercises I do on a creative writing course I start by asking people to write down all the names they have been given in their lives and to try to reach double figures. At first there’s a lot of head scratching and doubtful looks then they start jotting them down and, of course, memory kicks in and they remember lots more. I promise them they won’t be expected to share – not everyone would want to tell a room of strangers their partner calls them Fluffy Bunikins! After the lists are complete they choose on name from it and reflect on how they got it, who gave them the name, what it means to them and to the person/people who call them that. It’s an exercise which always results in some fascinating pieces of writing.

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  4. willowdot21 says:

    We do answer to a lot of names, and not all of them complimentary. I have been referred to and still am occasionally by my brother’s as ‘the babe’ not because I am stunning, I wish, no because I am the youngest of the family. Blossy by my sister , for some reason she still calls me that now, it’s short for blossom flower. Then there is Mum and Grandma as you say Sue the very best of names…Why do we get nicknames I suppose they are terms of endearment or for convenience. In our family there were Tess, Mare’s, boy and girlie (the twins) J.P. and me the babe, there were three others but the died in infancy so I never knew if they had nicknames. The strangest part is we always answer to these names, we accept them..grow into them. Perhaps they are preordained. 💜

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  5. V.M.Sang says:

    My father used to call me Vivinny. When my birth announcement was in the paper, a neighbour mispronounced Vivienne, and my dad took it up.
    He sadly died when I was very small. My mother remarried, and my stepfather called me Vienna. ( no idea why!)
    To my little sister, I was Vivi, and Viv to my friends.
    Of course, there’s Mum, and my son has started calling me Mother.
    And, almost best of all, Grandma.
    My sister, Cheryl, couldn’t pronounce her name, and called herself Chembul, so, of course, she is calle Chem.
    And my cousin, Elizabeth’s brother called her Biddybess, so she’s Bid.
    Strange how we accept these names.

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  6. Jennie says:

    You have quite a collection of terms of endearment, a tribute to you, Sue. I agree that Mum and Grandma are the best ones. You had a wonderful grandfather!

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  7. quiall says:

    The faces a writer can call upon are multifaceted. But the heart is always true.

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  8. Sadje says:

    This is so interesting Sue! So b what should we call you here? 😍

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  9. fransiweinstein says:

    Wonderful post! I would have enjoyed meeting your grandfather. My given name is Frances, which no one has ever called me — a name I have never liked and I have never felt “at home” in it. I think names should only be given (or chosen) when our true selves start to emerge.

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  10. Haha – pub grub… what a finish, especially after all of grandfather’s high-falutin’ names!

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  11. What a great post, Sue. I didn’t know that Penelope had anything to do with cloth. I love CS Lewis too and read the Narnia Chronicles several times. I recently read The Screwtape Letters and loved it so much I now have The Great Divorce to read. Have your read these?

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    • Sue Vincent says:

      I’ve read most of Lewis’ work over the years… some of his religious work is rather beautiful, even though it is not my path. The Screwtape Letters are a brilliant commentary on the human mind, though.

      Like

  12. I was never called Diana unless someone was made at me or it was a teacher. For years, my aunts thought I was a Dinah, and at school I was christened Mother Nature by a rather spiteful girl with mean intentions, but I’m having the last laugh as I love Nature. Mum used to call me by my sister’s name and vice versa, and in some instances I’d answer to Hey You!
    Hubby calls me SWMBO and has all those lovely little cartoons he’s put together over the years. I love it.

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  13. noelleg44 says:

    THis got me to thinking about all the names I’ve had from various sources over the years. Miss Encyclopeda was my least favorite.

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  14. Widdershins says:

    Very handy things to have around, grubs. 😀

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  15. Reblogged this on Musings on Life & Experience and commented:
    Enduring terms.

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  16. I can’t repeat some of mine… but you have a wonderful selection to be proud of and treasure… lovely post Sue..xx

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  17. Adele Marie says:

    Your grandad sounds a wonderful mystical man. I had the mystical Qabbalah too but was too young at the time to even try to understand. xxx

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  18. Darlene says:

    This is a fun post. I’ve never had a nickname, no one in our family does. We don’t tend to do that. I used to wish my name was Shirley as it was my favourite teacher’s name. I asked everyone to call me that when I was young but no one would. My kids call me Mom, my son sometimes calls me Mumzie which I like. Of course, I love being called Gramma. It’s the best.

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