What’s in a name?

Names are a bit weird, aren’t they? They make up such a huge part of our identity, yet, in most cases, we get pretty much no say in the matter. Our names are sometimes picked out for us before we’re even born – before we’re even conceived, in some cases – and it seems to be pretty much pot luck as to whether or not your name fits your personality.

In spite of this, in spite of the fact there’s absolutely no way of knowing how someone will turn out as an adult, people are hugely resistant to the smallest of changes to one’s own name – even down to the nickname. I still remember the expression of absolute disbelief and defiance on my grandfather’s face, as he said, with the most over-exaggerated shock in his voice, when I, a mature, grown up twelve-year-old, decided I wanted to be ‘Liz’ instead of ‘Lizzie’: “no… Lizzie!”. And, to this day, he’ll write Liz in cards, but will always call me Lizzie to my face.

As most people who follow me on social media are probably aware of by now, I’ve recently decided that I’m no longer going by ‘Liz’ or ‘Lizzy’, and am instead going by ‘Zara’. The reason being, if one needs to be given, is that I’ve never felt those names suited me. I’ve been known as ‘Lizzie’ since birth, and only changed it to ‘Liz’ when I decided the former was too childish. I’ve never liked ‘Liz’ that much, either, but I was twelve when I made that decision. ‘Zara’ is such a beautiful name (and can come from Elizabeth – ‘EliZAbeth’, ‘ZAra’), and I really feel that it’s a name that suits me. People have already used it to address me, and it fits.

My friends, and most of my family, have been kind, but I do worry about the response. Apparently, despite it being my name, my deciding that I’d like to be known as something else can be seen as an inconvenience. I know my aforementioned grandparents will be calling me ‘Lizzie’ until the day one of us dies – not because they can’t remember what I’d like to be called, but because they choose not to. A visit to them reminds me that I only have so much power over my own identity. (My nan, on my mum’s side, I will cut some slack; she’s terminally ill and has other things on her mind, like making sure she has enough oxygen.)

With that in mind, I’d like to ask you all, no matter what the reason may be, to respect your friends and family when they decide to change their name or nickname. Their name is theirs, and not yours to dictate. A name is so important and it should fit its bearer. Why else do you think novelists spend so much time picking names for their characters?

As for all of you who’ve been wanting to try out a new name, do it. Just do it. People who matter will accept it. Occasional forgetfulness, especially in the early stages, is okay. “I’m going to keep calling you (x), because I’ve always known you as (x)”, is lazy, dismissive, and downright disrespectful.

The Albums Which Define Me

Music is something which is, and always has been, a huge part of my life, for as long as I can remember, really. My parents, though neither were really musicians, were always listening to music – be it at home, in the car, wherever. It’s not really surprising that, not only did I grow up to love music, but my taste really has become a fusion of theirs. We’re a family who share music with each other, and I hope we always stay that way.

The summer of 2014 was when my love for music was most intense. I went to Cornwall with my parents, and, being seventeen, there wasn’t a whole lot of interest I could get from just walking along behind them in silence. So, I listened to music. I’d just bought an iPod at the time, and had so much more access to music than I did when I only had my phone. The albums I listened to that summer are albums which have stuck with me. Listening to them brings me straight back to St Ives, or Penzance, or any of the places we visited. Cornwall is a place I hold dear, likewise, these albums are the same.

1. Quadrophenia – the Who, 1973

quadrophenia_albumOne lunch time, I was sat at college, when this long-haired boy I had a crush on came over and started talking to me about the Who. I confessed that, while I loved Tommy, I didn’t really ‘get’ Quadrophenia. He told me it was his “favourite album of all time”, so I gave it another go…

It’s now my favourite album. That summer, I discovered the magic of listening to an album like this – one so rich in story, and musically ingenious – while strolling along a windy, coastal cliff path. I still listen to it frequently. It’s one which I’m sure I’ll never get bored of. It’s like an old friend to me.

The track ‘Sea and Sand’, too, is especially relevant to me, as it brings me back to my not-so-good times at Reading – but in a way which is, strangely… actually not that bad? I associated that song with happier times, such as being in Brighton. I suppose, now that I live there, it’s proof that it all worked out for me? Oh, and the long-haired boy is Alex, if you hadn’t figured that out already.

2. VU – the Velvet Underground, 1985

220px-thevelvetundergroundvuI hadn’t realised this was an outtakes album until I looked up the release date for this blog post. This album is truly wonderful. Bizarre. Fantastic. It’s just a bit of everything, which I guess is inevitable…

I found this because I wanted to get into the Velvet Underground. I actually listened to this more than The Velvet Underground and Nico. It’s weird, it’s whimsical, and I’m really not sure why I like it as much as I do, but it does bring me back to St Ives, and I think that little arty coastal town is the perfect backdrop for it. Also, ‘Stephanie Says’ is such a lovely song.

3. Led Zeppelin IV – Led Zeppelin, 1971

led_zeppelin_-_led_zeppelin_ivMy dad is a huge Led Zeppelin fan, so I had access to all of the albums, and, during the 4-ish hour car journey, I had the chance to fully explore Led Zeppelin, and, out of everything I managed to cram into that space of time, this album just really stood out to me. Obviously everyone knows ‘Stairway to Heaven’, but it really is a brilliant song. Listening to it while walking through a forest in Penzance, too, was magical.

‘Going to California’, my favourite Led Zeppelin song, is on this album. I’d never heard lyrics quite like them before…

“Someone told me there’s a girl out there, with love in her eyes and flowers in her hair”

4. Waiting for the Sun – the Doors, 1968

the_doors_-_waiting_for_the_sunApparently this album didn’t do too well on release?

I love how strange the tone is on this one. Listening to it feels like the passing of seasons, but I’m not really sure if I can explain why. For me, it was the easiest Doors album to listen to, it was the one which helped me to really discover the band.

Again, Alex recommended them to me, before we were together, which, at the time, meant I should really give them a try – so I did, and discovered ‘Wintertime Love’, still a favourite song of mine, in the process of doing so.
Of the albums I listened to that summer, the above four were probably the most significant at the time. There’s only so many times I can essentially say the same thing over and over, so I’ll trail off with a list of the others…

  • The Madcap Laughs – Syd Barrett, 1970
  • Eye in the Sky – the Alan Parsons Project, 1982
  • Jeff Wayne’s Musical Version of the War of the Worlds – Jeff Wayne, 1978
  • Meddle – Pink Floyd, 1971
  • The Final Cut – Pink Floyd, 1983

…but the four I went into detail with were the main ones.

If asked, I’m not sure why these ones in particular still hold such a meaning to me. 2014 was a long time ago, and a lot has happened since then. I guess, because it was probably the best summer I’ve ever had, looking back on it, being able to be instantly transported back there is a wonderful opportunity. I’d finished my horrible job a couple of months before, I saw so many of my friends, and I discovered that Alex actually liked me back. It sounds so much like trivial, seventeen-year-old things, but, honestly? I felt so wonderful in every aspect of my life, that summer. I’d not go back given the chance, since it’d ruin the memory, but I know it’s a time I’ll never forget. I hope to have another summer like it, someday.

So… (and I can’t believe I’m doing this,) does anyone have an album which has a special significance?

(Also, look at me updating frequently! Plus, that photo of me by the sunset, uh, somewhere close to St Ives is the only photo of myself I seem to have of that trip…)