Monday, 7 March 2011

Family matters

I have started the difficult task of digging through my parent's lives...hard because they have both left the planet long ago, and although I have a sort of cv/resume of each of them, I know almost nothing of their real lives.

This dearth of information explains (partly) why I feel the need to annotate my life a little, even if an autobiography can still only be a tiny sample of a life. I am a biological dad, at least, to three people, but I haven't done a lot of parenting, really. The women did most of the work. It still puzzles me how my name gets tagged to people - some strange leftover of 'male rights', or getting men to acknowledge their children, or something.

I took my dad's name, in the traditional manner, and stuck with it because it seemed a unique name (sufficient for show biz, at least) although, through internet and Facebook I now know I am not unique, even in this. My sister married a couple of times, so her name shifted, and our mother not only married a couple of times but also had a show-biz alias as Sheila Moriarty (using her own mother's maiden name) - so she had started as Sheila Vose, then Sheila Philpott, then Sheila Guthrie - and all the time, still, a Moriarty.

Women seem to have more flexibility under this system, anyway, as they can always marry out of a surname they don't like. I only once called myself Toby Moriarty for a gig/contract, and it felt really weird.

The Spanish seem to nod to both families with double-barreled surnames (a few people do that over here, but it is less of a tradition). I am not sure what happens when two double-barreled names meet. How do they merge?

Ahem - I actually have a hidden agenda for this post, but briefly I am pleased that the mothers involved insisted on getting my surname on the birth certificates - even though I have never married anyone. I was such an outlaw for years that I hated having my name on any official paperwork. It seemed strange at the time not to just use the mother's name (because I myself grew up with a different name from my mum's and it led to lots of confusion and explanations at times, in hotels, over plane tickets, passports, etc). But it's nice, now, to have Yolande Philpott feeling OK about me and my name, and my son seems to choose whichever suits him, Keili Olsen or Keili Philpott, as it takes his fancy.

But this isn't getting a book written. Ahem.