x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Beckhams unsporting to give Harper middle name 'Seven'

Why must celebrities insist on giving their children weird names that the poor kids will have to live down for ever?

David and Victoria Beckham with their sons, from left, Brooklyn, Cruz and Romeo. The boys now have a sister, Harper Seven.
David and Victoria Beckham with their sons, from left, Brooklyn, Cruz and Romeo. The boys now have a sister, Harper Seven.

The poor girl will have to bat away the "joke" her entire life. What time does David and Victoria Beckham's daughter go to bed? Harper Seven. Still, at least their newest offspring won't have to undergo the sheer humiliation their firstborn suffers. Even though Victoria later denied the scurrilous rumours that Brooklyn was named after the place in which he was conceived, they simply won't go away. You can imagine the 12-year-old boy now. "Muuum. Daaad. You're so embarrassing."

The Beckhams were clearly never going to pick a name from the current top 10 list in their native UK. Not for them an Olivia, Ruby or Chloé - not when their other children are burdened with the monikers Brooklyn, Romeo and Cruz. Celebrity rules insist that baby names must match the outlandish, attention-seeking tastes of their parents. Names that scream "we are unique, we are distinctive, we are inventive and, by the way, would you like to write about how unique and distinctive we are in the papers - again."

But where did this all begin? In what world did Bob Geldof and Paula Yates think calling their children Fifi Trixibelle, Peaches Honeyblossom and Little Pixie was OK? After all, back in Hollywood's golden age, the stars themselves might have had evocative names, but Spencer Tracey, for example, somewhat soberly called his children John and Louise. Fast-forward a generation, and the sense of psychedelic possibility ushered in by the Swinging Sixties extended to baby names. Still, it caused quite a stir when Frank Zappa called his darling little girl Moon Unit.

Yes, Moon Unit. No matter that it sounded more like a space station than a child, it encouraged Zappa to call his next son Dweezil - which has the dubious honour of sounding both ridiculous and slightly derogatory. Nevertheless, it wasn't long before David Bowie was calling his first child Zowie: the classic example of a name given with too little regard for the poor boy's future standing at school.

No surprise, then, that by the age of 12, Zowie was calling himself Joey... and that, when it came to making his recent feature films Moon and Source Code, Zowie reverted to the far more prosaic Duncan Jones. But there was definitely something cosmic going on in the 1970s. How else to explain Sylvester Stallone's son going by the name of Sage Moonblood, or Mia Farrow and André Previn's adopting Vietnamese children and renaming them Lark Song and Summer Daisy Song?

Perhaps these stars believed - and still do - that their celebrity status shields their offspring from potential future problems. And while Sage Moonblood could always threaten potential bullies with a father who is a (albeit fictitious) world heavyweight boxing champion, poor Jamie Oliver's son has a much rockier road ahead of him. His sisters have the rather cute names of Poppy, Daisy and Petal. He, on the other hand, has to suffer as Buddy Bear, the kind of name given to a threadbare but much-loved cuddly toy rather than a fully functional human being.

Similarly, Hopper Penn, the second child of Sean Penn and Robin Wright, was not, last time we looked, a frog. Spike and Tonya Lee didn't give birth to a handy over-the-shoulder bag when they named their child, er, Satchel. We could go on: although as a serial offender Robert Rodriguez takes the biscuit; not only do the director's children's names alliterate, but Racer, Rebel, Rogue and Rocket sound like a band of superheroes. Maybe that was the intention.

Judged alongside those abominations, the Beckhams' choice is not all that silly. True, it's only number 174 in current US birth names, but it is imbued with weighty literary resonance, thanks to Harper Lee. What makes it just a little ridiculous is the middle name. Seven is crashingly, clunkily self-referential: it was David Beckham's shirt number at Manchester United and for England. He might as well have called her Harper David and been done with it.

Will there be a whole generation of Harper Sevens? Unlikely, because naming a child after a celebrity's wackily monikered offspring is not only deeply uncool, it's actually less original than playing it traditional and picking Jack or Alice. Still, the irony of all this is that Harper by itself is actually quite a nice name. If David and Victoria call their next child Boo Radley Beckham (sounds quite good, doesn't it?), they'll be revealed as the unlikeliest fans of To Kill a Mockingbird in quite some time.