A few weeks ago I watched an episode of Top Gear, in which the guest star was Ron Howard, probably better known to my generation as Richie Cunningham from Happy Days but more recently famous for directing such blockbusting films as Apollo 13, The Da Vinci Code, A Beautiful Mind and Frost/Nixon.
During the course of his interview with Jeremy Clarkson, Ron revealed that his four children's middle names indicated where they were conceived. Hence the couple's first child was named Bryce Dallas Howard and their twin daughters Jocelyn Carlyle Howard and Paige Carlyle Howard.
The Carlyle wasn't a spelling mistake on Ron's part. His daughters were not conceived in north-west England but in the Carlyle Hotel in New York. Ron and his wife Cheryl quite reasonably decided that "New York" was a bit of a mouthful and that the alternative, "the Big Apple" would hardly roll off the tongue either, so they settled for the name of the hotel.
They also ran into a spot of bother with the naming convention with their fourth child, Reed Cross Howard.
Ron joked on the show that Volvo wasn't a very good middle name so their son was named after a street near their home in Greenwich, Connecticut.
Of course, the Howards are not the first celebrities to name their children after the places of conception. Footballer David Beckham and his singer wife, Victoria "Posh" Spice, famously named their first-born son Brooklyn after the New York borough (there must be something in the city's water that provokes pregnancy).
It's just as well David didn't become a father during his early playing days with Manchester United or some poor kid could have been lumbered with a name that coincided with the Red Devils' fixture list - imagine, Blackpool Beckham or Barnsley Beckham.
Still it could have been even worse. An unfortunate draw for Manchester United in the FA Cup could have resulted in a Barrow Beckham, a Sheffield Wednesday Beckham or, heaven forbid, a Brighton and Hove Albion Beckham.
It's such a scary thought that Posh would probably have agreed to marital relations only when United were away to Chelsea - and then only if she could be guaranteed a daughter. Were such an assurance possible she would probably have agreed to accompany David for any away match against Peterborough United because their nickname is Posh.
Since the Beckhams naming of Brooklyn got so much publicity it was inevitable that the celebrity-worshipping herd would follow suit. This is fine if your child is conceived in Victoria, Denver or Sydney but not so great if you happen to be in Heckmondwike or Shepton Mallet when passion takes over.
I spent a fair chunk of my early life living in Lincolnshire. Fortunately I had no children during this time and even if I had I would have been hard pressed to consider naming any offspring after the place of conception when such romantic place names as Scunthorpe or Grimsby were among the possibilities.
On second thoughts I'd imagine it's extremely difficult to summon up any kind of lust in a place like Grimsby so I guess the problem would never arise.
Anyone back here in New Zealand who is considering following the celebrity trend would be well advised to keep their romantic liaisons confined to such places as Napier or Clive and definitely not go near another Hawke's Bay settlement, the one that boasts the world's longest place name - Taumata-whakatangihanga-koauau-o-tamatea-turi-pukakapiki-maunga-horo-nuku-pokai-whenua-kitanatahu.
It takes longer to say it than it does to carry out the necessary procreation.
Alexandra would obviously be quite acceptable as a name for a daughter, as would St Clair, although the girl would have a lot to live up to and if the baby were to be a boy he would face a rugged future akin to Johnny Cash's Boy named Sue.
You could probably make a case for Timaru or Temuka being borderline acceptable for children's names but Pleasant Point would be ruled out, which is a pity because it provokes the kind of connotation that would seem ideal for a romantic tryst.
Personally, with a surname like Burrows I'd steer well clear of imposing any New Zealand geographical link on a baby.
The very thought of a inflicting a name like Blackball Burrows on a child is, well . . . inconceivable.
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