I’m an international criminal in France. Changing first names is not allowed except in very strict circumstances so if you are born James Poobum, you stay James Poobum until you die. That’s why we are so iffy about first names being recognisable. There is a list in the Town Hall so forget about calling your child Sky, Cloud, Rainbow or Manchester United.
Even if the parents are foreign and want to call their child by a name traditional to their original country, their embassy will be contacted to check it out. My Welsh friend had a near fist-fight to get her daughter called Sîan. Someone at the town hall got mixed up with Sean, thought of 007 and banned it as being a boy’s name. The British Embassy sorted it out.
As many of you may know, Ailsa is a Scottish Gallic name. It is unpronounceable by most English people so from landing in France I changed it to Elise as being much easier for all concerned. When I changed nationalities, it was politely “suggested” that I adopt a French name. No problem, everyone knew me as Elise anyway!
However, like the eejit I am, I forgot to change all my documents. My ID card, which is the law on this, reads “Elise Lawton, married to Abraham” (yes, we keep our maiden names officially too) while other things like my bank card still read Ailsa, as does my Health Service card.
Oh dear. When I was rushed to Besançon dying of heart failure, I became two people. The staff got quite cross with me and wanted to know my REAL first name. The answer “both” didn’t please them so I am now going through the palaver of dealing with admin and getting everything except my British passport as ”Elise”.
The one I was dreading was my driving licence because those people are known to be the most difficult administrators in the land of the impossible civil servant. I trotted up to the local Town Hall to see if there were a specific form I could fill in and take to the Prefecture. My pal Andrée pointed out that my driving licence is also in “Elise” – she knows because she helped me fill in the forms and took the photos when I lost the damn thing and had to have it replaced. I believe it was Andrée who said that it would be easier to have my ID and licence matching.
I ran around the counter and kissed her. It’s good to have a good pal in the Mairie. The bank have agreed to play ball so now I just have to arm-wrestle the Health Service. They ought to be relieved if they ask the hospital.
It’s only my friends on FB who will need convincing.
In real life, only my mother’s family still call me Ailsa, even Badger knows me as Elise – this could take some convincing.