I’m still undecided about what to do about my name, now that I’m married. While I feel really honoured to have become a member of the Pocock’s, Alison Staples is who I am. I’ve spent 42 years building ‘my brand’ and I feel very deeply rooted in my family history.
With everything that’s happened over the last couple of years with my illness and all, there is a lot to be said for drawing a line under Alison Staples and making a new start. It’s an opportunity to re-invent myself. But I’m also very aware that my sister and I are the last in our current line of Staples. It’s a line that I can trace back to the 1650’s.
I know at the end of the day, I’m still the same person whatever my name, but for me it’s also psychological. I spent 18 months fighting hard to make sure that Alison Staples didn’t disappear. She’s a precious person – a big part of me needs to hang onto her.
Since I got married, it has felt at times like my identity has disappeared. Our joint letters are now addressed to Dr & Mrs T Pocock. Where am I? I’ve even lost my Dr. It’s not anyone’s fault, I’ve done exactly the same to other people. And I know that I should just make a decision and decide one way or the other, but I’m still sitting on the fence. I suspect I’ll continue to camp out there until being schizophrenic gets too annoying and confusing. It’s getting to the point that sometimes I can’t remember whether I’m supposed to be Staples, Pocock or both!
So why can’t I just let go of ‘Staples’? Well, some of it is a survival instinct, but I suspect I would have had this dilemma even before getting ill. It’s more to do with my identity and my history.
When I went to see my dad this weekend, he showed me a photocopy of a document dated 22nd November 1793. It was Michael Staples’, my great, great, great granddads papers that he ‘signed’ when he joined the army. King George III was on the throne, William Pitt the Younger was Prime Minister, Catherine the Great was Tsarina of Russia and at the start of the year, Louis XVI of France was guillotined.
Times were turbulent when a 17 year old Michael Staples made the sign of the X (presumably because he couldn’t write), left rural Lincolnshire and his life as a labourer, and joined – The Scots Guards!
He was only little (5ft 5 ¼ inches) with fair complexion, brown hair and brown eyes, but in 22 years of service he saw lots of action. His service covered the entire length of the Napoleonic Wars. Although he was discharged in 1815, I don’t think he was at The Battle of Waterloo. It seems he was invalided out as a result of eye problems contracted in Egypt, although on the plus side he had grown a further 2 ¼ inches while serving his country.
Once discharged, Michael at 39 years, promptly became a Chelsea Pensioner, went back to Lincolnshire and at the age of 44 years married 18 year old Susannah (get in there)! This 9th son then went on to have 9 children, the youngest of which was Sampson Staples.
Born in 1840, my great, great granddad Sampson, a maker of ceramic pots, left the village of East Kirkby for the bright lights of Bradford at the height of the industrial revolution, where he helped to build the sewerage system! It’s ironic that someone doing a job so dirty should end up marrying a ‘dry soap packer’.
Sampson eventually left sewage behind him and opened a fish and chip shop in Bradford which still stands today. Yes, I come from fine working class stock.
Each one of those lives - I am the product of all their struggles and hopes, I can’t just cut them adrift. Part of me feels very strongly that it’s my job to fly the Staples flag.
|Me, Grandad Staples & Catherine, Mexborough Vicarage (circa 1974)|
So with that in mind, where do we go now? I could hyphenate. Alison Staples-Pocock? Alison Pocock-Staples? No, I don’t think so.
Another option is to ‘mesh’ our names. Apparently it’s very trendy at the moment. Alison Stacock? Alison Poples? Nope, still not there.
So the other evening, after a particularly competitive game of rude word scrabble out in the garden, Tris and I decided to put the letters P O C O C K S T A P L E S into the bag and to pull out just 6 tiles and see what words we could make from our combined letters.
The first one out of the bag was SPACKO!
Not a very good start, try again:
POCKAS, COPASK, SPACOK, STOOSE, OSSETO, COPOSE
All rubbish, so we kept trying and eventually they started to improve:
PACKET, POCKET, CASTLE, CLASPE, SLACKS, SCOOPE
Then we got a bit silly and started to organise them into categories:
TV series name – SPOOKS
Mollusc name – COCKLE
Tour de France names – SLECKS (slight variation on the correct spelling I know) & SPOKES
Footballing name – COPPEL(L)
Rapper name – T-CLOCK
Clairvoyant name – STOKES
Star Trek name – SPOCKS
Prison names – SLOPPS & SLAPPS
Cash n Carry name - COSTCO
Greek name – KOSTAS
French names – PASTEL, POSTAL, LE-SACK & LE-COCK
Spanish name – EL-COCK
German name – SPLATS
Take it down to five letters and you get COAST, LAKES, CAKES and TOSSA. Take it to seven letters and you get POLECAT.
However, I think my absolute favourite has to POLPOT. We’ve never had a Cambodian dictator in the family.
It was a fun game to play on a warm summers evening fuelled by a bit too much wine, however I’m still confused about what to do. In the mean time, I guess I’ll carry on being a bit schizophrenic and answer to everything until I finally have to jump off the fence.