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I thought my daughter’s name was perfect … and then Boris and Carrie Johnson copied it | Tim Jonze

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“I have a suggestion and I’m not sure you’re going to like it,” my wife said, one evening in 2016. I knew what was coming. My wife isn’t someone prone to suggesting we suddenly up sticks and move to Arkansas, or begin new careers in mime artistry. And we’d been talking about names for our imminent first child. Girls’ names had been a particular problem: we’d ended up with a rotating cast of names from Mad Men – Peggys and Bettys and the like – but weren’t fully convinced. I braced myself for a “Gertrude”.

“What about Romy?” she said. Instantly, I loved it. The name’s roots are basically a Germanic twist on the Latin name Rosemary, but it seems to be more popular in France these days. My wife had been following the rather glam daughter of the editor of French Vogue on Instagram, who called her own daughter Romy. As it turned out, I’d recently done a phone interview with Romy from the xx and was struck by how lovely she’d been to chat to.

We loved that there weren’t many Romys, and that all the ones who existed seemed to be extremely cool: Romy Schneider, the tragic German-French actor. Sofia Coppola and Thomas Mars of the band Phoenix have a daughter called Romy. And there is the film Romy and Michele’s High School Reunion, which I still haven’t seen but am assured by film buffs is right up there with Chinatown and Citizen Kane. We had found the perfect name for our perfect girl. When she was born, an extremely kind colleague managed to get a signed seven-inch vinyl sent from Romy xx herself with the message “From one Romy to another” written on it.

It wasn’t all plain sailing for our Romy. There were the colleagues who insisted on calling her “Rommy” no matter how many times I said the name with added emphasis (Roe-Mee). Then there was our move from Hackney’s hipster enclave, where we had never encountered another Romy, to a quiet spot in southeast London only to discover there was another Romy living over the road. And one in her year at primary school. And one in the year above. And one in the year below. In fact, there seem to be five, or possibly even six, Romys at her school alone – we’ve genuinely lost count. Still, all the other Romys are lovely, and seem to enjoy the experience of spotting each other out in the wild. Only cool parents, we reasoned, would ever choose the name Romy.

Now the terrible thing has happened. I hesitate to say it’s the worst thing Boris Johnson has done, but for about 40 seconds yesterday it felt like it. Romy? Romy?! As one of the 27 WhatsApp messages I received shortly after his daughter’s name was announced put it: “Noooooooooooo!” One friend even claimed they would have to tear down the portrait our Romy had drawn and signed from their refrigerator (she now says she was joking, but I will be making an unannounced visit to spot-check this at regular intervals over the next decade).

Romy is a very cool name and now the least cool person on Earth has used it. I’m talking about Carrie Johnson – who I’m presuming, as someone who at least knows how many children she has, chose the name. There’s no escaping it: Carrie is a person less cool even than Boris Johnson, on the grounds that she married Boris Johnson. In terms of cool, Carrie Johnson makes Samantha Cameron look like Megan Thee Stallion.

A lot of people have spent the past half-decade or more feeling like Boris Johnson is ruining their lives. While this latest development is an extremely minor transgression in the grand scheme of things, it does feel weirdly like he is personally trolling me and my wife. Anyway, I will wish this new Romy well – the sins of the father should not be visited on the newborn daughter, and that holds true even if said sins include gaslighting the entire nation on a daily basis while looking like the estranged sibling Worzel Gummidge is embarrassed to be seen around.

Romy Iris Charlotte Johnson will be her own person, but she should at least know this, just to keep her grounded: you may have been born into a world of staggering wealth, contacts and privilege, but you will never receive a signed seven-inch from a member of the xx.



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