x Abu Dhabi, UAE Friday 21 July 2017

In the name of friendship...

Naming a new baby is a big responsibility, too big to be left solely to the parents. That's why it is the duty of a true friend to rally round with helpful suggestions and constructive criticism.

Choosing a name for someone is a huge responsibility and one not taken lightly by any mother. While nine months may seem adequate time to decide what you will brand someone for life with, it often turns out that it is not.

A close friend of mine recently gave birth to a beautiful girl - but when asked the baby's name by the first day's visitors, she could only give a dazed and slightly horrified stare. She'd left it too late and the pressure was on.

Living in the era of social networking technology added to the heat, as well-meaning friends logged into Twitter and Facebook to announce the joyous bundle's arrival, only for my friend's various profiles to be bombarded with inquiries over the little beauty's name. The announcement of 9.2lb (4.2kg) beautiful baby girl was not enough for the frenzied mob - they had to have a name!

I raise my hand and admit my shameful part in the "namesgate" scandal. We began discussing names around the sixth month-mark and I gave my suggestions and actually pushed them quite hard, but to no avail. After a week of frantically Googling and then messaging my offerings and having every single one of them (more than 100) turned down, I began to feel a bit miffed.

So when my friend finally said that she'd come up with her own suggestion, I eagerly looked forward to the coming message. And then stared down at it, horrified. I knew I could not let it pass. It did not cut it. It wasn't the name for the little girl I had been waiting eight months to meet.

I knew I should tread carefully - the last thing I wanted to do was bruise my friend's feelings. I failed dismally.

The baby escaped the name but that was it for me - I was out of the naming game. No longer a consultant. Any inquiry I made was met with a tight-lipped: "Hmph! As if I'm telling you after what happened last time."

In my defence, names are something that have always concerned me. Having gone to school with an Adolph, an Einstein and a Cuthbert I was well aware of the impact the wrong name could have.

The next culprit in namesgate was her husband. A man of few words at the best of times, he greeted all suggestions put to him with a slight shake of the head. She could not, after all, name the baby something he did not like.

When asked to come up with a list he did nothing of the sort, that is until little Olivia spent her second night at the hospital. It was an inspired choice. She was destined to be an Olivia before she was born. It suits her so well and karma's hand played its part to a tee.

Although a little upset that none of my proffered names was chosen - I was plumping for Felicia or Felicidad - I am nonetheless very pleased with their choice.