Monday, August 12, 2013

What's in a Name?

Scene: A richly paneled conference room with polished floors, Oriental carpets, and elegant mahogany furniture.  A table in the middle is occupied by two gentlemen.  A third, younger one enters, obviously late.

Mr. Smyth: “So sorry for my tardiness.  Any news?”

Mr. Baker: “Smyth, the only thing we should be waiting on is the royal baby.  Not you.”  Smyth sits down shamefully and reviews the paper in front of him.

Mr. Baker: “Can we proceed please?  I’ve called this meeting to discuss the naming of the soon-to-be born Prince or Princess.   I’ve taken the liberty of compiling a list of Generally Accepted Royal Names that we can suggest to The Prince and Duchess for their child.  I’d like us to review these and provide a list of suggestions for them.  It’s the least we can do: they have been so busy dodging the paparazzi and it seems far more practical than throwing a baby shower.”

Geeves: “Oh a baby shower would have been fun.  I make a mean diaper cake…” Smyth stops short 
after Baker shoots him withering glance.

Baker: “Let’s proceed.  Should we start with the boys names first, Mr. Geeves?”

Geeves:  “Yes, yes.  Where are my readers… ok…here we go.  Albert.  What do we think of Albert?”

Smyth: “HEY HEY HEY!  It’s faaaaaaat Albert!  I loved that show, watched re-runs on the telly when I was a lad.”

Baker: “Mr. Smyth.  You will cease the cartoon tomfoolery at once.  This is serious business.   

Geeves, I believe we should strike that name from the list.  I can just imagine the Fleet Street headlines if ever a Prince Albert were to make a habit of super-sizing his afternoon tea.  Next name please.”

Geeves: “Quite right, quite right.  Edmund.  How about Edmund?”

Baker: “Sounds too much like the Prince’s Uncle Edward.”

Smyth:  “I do like it, it’s my first name, but I must agree. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to be calling the Palace feeling like a fool by asking for myself on the line…”

Baker: “Smyth, you are not being helpful.  Geeves: Strike Edmund.”

Geeves: “You want me to hit Smyth, Baker?”

Baker: “I meant cross out the name Edmund.  If Smyth needs to be struck I’ll do it myself, thank you very much.”

Geeves: “The next name is Henry…”

Smyth (interrupting): “That retread?  Every other royal was named Henry back in the day.  They 
burned that name out.  And with all his divorces…”

Geeves (interrupting Smyth): “Yes, yes.  After the last 20 years, the last thing we need is even a WHIFF of marital scandal.  Fleet Street would be frothing.”

Baker (irritated): “Retread...?”

Smyth (interrupting): “This is a new generation.  Young…fresh…current.  The royals need a name that will resonate with the public.”

Baker (more irritated): “RESONATE WITH THE PUBLIC?  What resonates with the public is tradition!  The Monarchy is the glue that holds the British Isles together!...”

Geeves (interrupting): “Well it’s not on the list but Elmer would go nicely with the glue leitmotif” 

Baker (apoplectic): “Geeves!  Did you have a bit of brandy with your lunch? Get a hold of yourself man!”

Smyth (laughing): “You were the one who compared the Royal family to cheap epoxy.”

Baker (glaring at Smyth): “If you are so well-versed on the blending of royal tradition with the popular acceptance, what name would you suggest?” 

Smyth: “Cnut.”

Baker: “Did you say NEWT?  Is this a Monty Python joke?  You want to name the future Monarch after an aquatic amphibian?  Or a – lord help us – AMERICAN POLITICIAN?”

Smyth: “NO, not NEWT, CNUT.  It’s pronounced Kuh-NEWT.  The C is not silent.

Baker: “CNUT?  There hasn’t been a Monarch named Cnut since…since…”

Geeves (interrupting): “Since 1035 sir.  Cnut, Son of Sweyn Forkbeard and Gunhilda of Poland”

Baker: “Thank you Geeves.  Smyth… CNUT?  You can’t be serious…”

Smyth: “It tested very well with the focus groups sir. 


Smyth: “Yes.  And the feedback was fascinating.  They liked the rugged, Viking-like quality.  It would help overhaul the Windsor brand. They don’t test out as being… being..

Baker: “What?”

Smyth: “Tough”

Baker: “Tough?  The Princes serve in the MILITARY!  They fly helicopters!”

Smyth: “Yes, they Princes serve in the military but it seems the only time the public sees them are when they are on some ski holiday in Gstaad.  Or sans vestmants during a round of strip poker in Vega-“

Baker: “STOP. RIGHT. THERE.  They are young men sowing their oats.”

Geeves: “Well, I’d rather see those stories than the ones forever questioning what the Queen carries in her handbag.  Anyone with a brain knows it’s most definitely a handkerchief and breath mints…”

Smyth: “See: handbags.  Handbags and breath mints do not telegraph strength.  Cnut on the other hand  had a rugged Viking-quality to it.  The focus group found it mythic, strong.  Reminded them of dragons.

Baker: “Dragons.  I’m not following.  Are you suggesting they are thinking along the lines of the Legend of St. George and the Dragon?”

Smyth: “No.  More like Game of Thrones.”

Baker (incensed): “Are you suggesting we take cues from a MINI-SERIES???”

Geeves: “It’s actually a regular series.  Season 4 starts soon.  It’s pretty good, but I myself am partial to Downton Abbey”

Baker (sarcastically): “Of course you are.”

Smyth: “We could run a whole campaign around it.  The scope of the merchandising could be astounding!  T-shirts, coffee mugs, lunch boxes…”

Baker (sarcastically): “The Royal Prince Cnut on a cheap plastic lunch pail.  Oh the majesty…”

Geeves: “I have to agree with Baker on that one, Smyth.  The plastic lunch pail is a bit déclassé.  The coffee mugs in ceramic could be nice though…”

Baker: “Gentleman.  Please… We are not getting very far here.  Can we please stop with this nonsense?  Cnut it ridiculous.”

Smyth: “It is Cnot.  Get it?  Cnut… Cnot…. “ (laughs)

Geeves: “Good one, lad!”

Two servants enter carrying afternoon tea.

Baker: “This is irrational.  We have list in front of us that represents over a thousand years of royal splendor and dignity: Richards, and Edwards, Georges, and Henrys.  And you give me CNUT.  I daresay I’m afraid to ask what the focus group came up with for Girls names…”

Smyth: “The were particular to J-Lo”

Geeves: “I daresay, Baker just fainted.”

Smyth: “The man is wholly lacking a sense of humor”

Geeves: “I believe you are right.  Tea?”

Smyth: “Please.  You can pour out.”

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