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Can you imagine Skyler drawing their pension?

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: December 04, 2013

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What do most people these days know of the great Westcountry military hero General Sir Redvers Buller? Very little, I suspect, apart from the facts that he won a Victoria Cross in India, got into bit of a pickle in South Africa and, if his statue at Exeter is anything to go by, always rode into battle with a traffic cone on his head.

However, a more lasting legacy came from that rather dashing Christian name. Not so long ago, any group of grey haired chaps assembled in this part of the world would have held at least one Redvers. Most of them are dead and gone, alas, and it must be rare indeed today to hear the name muttered at font or register office.

So what monicker is coming in as a replacement? Something to reflect the achievements of the age or the spirit of mankind as he battles against a hostile world? No. It's Skyler.

Apparently it's the name of one of the characters in an American TV crime series called Breaking Bad. Never seen the show myself – I gave up on telly when Muffin the Mule turned up his hooves – although I'm sure it involves a lot of guns, very clever street slang and men in vests running away from explosions.

But such is its popularity that the name is now firmly ensconced in the list of the nation's favourites with a 70% increase in use in a single year. Others climbing the charts include Brody, Arya, Finley and Jackson. Ronald, I'm afraid, slipped yet again.

Yes, it's that point on the calendar when such things are published and the flavour of 2013 can be assessed. Unless there is a flurry of activity in the next few days, the top five names for boys this time round will read Oliver, Jack, Charlie, Harry and Oscar and for girls Olivia, Emily, Sophia, Lily and Isabella.

Royal names, we're told, have suffered a slump this year with William and Kate both falling and despite all that palaver over the happy birth back in July, even George took a hit, down 20%. Not an unwelcome move really as it has always felt a bit odd to hear the roll call at a sink estate primary school sound more like the guest list for Christmas at Balmoral.

Aspiration, though, is what the giving of names to the young is all about. A good one can provide a head start in the game of life, another can leave him or her forever on the subs bench.

So what hopes are held by the loving parents of the growing numbers of Skylers? Will they be brain surgeons, professors of medieval literature at Oxford, visiting conductors at the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra? I reckon not. Let's pray that it proves otherwise but here's a pound to a penny that more will be making appearances down at the Job Centre than they ever will at book awards.

There's the question, too, of spelling. Even though the name is being used more it is unlikely ever to be universally recognised and that means problems. I know a couple, for example, who named their baby after the obscure tropical beach where she was conceived. How loving and sentimental, you might think, but for the rest of her life in Post Office queue or on telephone switchboard that girl will hear the words: "What? Can you spell that?"

Some, conversely, thrive on odd names. Peaches Geldof for one seems to be making an excellent fist of it although it does help if Daddy has made millions by pointing out how poor everyone is. And would it have helped if Bob had carried the fruit thing a bit further and called her Kumquat, Mangosteen or Granny Smith?

Perhaps the greatest aspiration of all is that the name pegged to offspring will keep them young forever. After all, you can picture little Skyler mewling and puking in the nurse's arms but it is hard to think of him in a state of mere oblivion sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans everything.

Surely old people are called Bert or Fred, Doris or Gladys not Peaches or Brody? A name that is young will stay young and you will never see the holder mount a stair lift or mobility scooter or the word attached to a prescription or pension book.

Sorry, but that's how it will be. Hard to get your head around it but one day there will be Skylers down at the nursing home tripping over Zimmer frames, spilling their nightly cocoa and, in those ga ga moments that come to us all, trying to fit traffic cones on their heads.

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