Naming Names

I lose things and then amazingly, they come back to me. This gift was magically bestowed on me shortly after as I was born. There was much debate about naming me ‘Susan’, which I am grateful to have avoided.  I think the entire family had a hand in my naming and as the first female grandchild for both sets of grandparents, everyone would have wanted to put in their bid for their favourite name.

My mother had been burdened with rather a lot of names and found it aggravating that they did not fit on official forms, so I was to have something less lengthy but with the required film star quality. My mother had plans for me, I think. So I arrived in the world and I was referred to as the ‘baby girl’ for a while as if they were all waiting for an auspicious sign from the gods.

I was born in November, which is a bitterly cold month in Norfolk. It makes the following event seem unlikely, as most people don’t go near the beach at that time of the year. For some reason my namesake ventured on to the sand at Heacham, a particularly bleak little seaside resort on the east coast. The girl in question had just married and I suppose she was walking a dog, or maybe just walking. In the bitter cold, her wedding ring slipped off and was lost. The new bride was distressed, as a gold wedding ring was of immense importance in a world where women worked themselves to death in marriage and yet were not credited with actually having a job. Here the story gets a little vague, but according to the legend, the next day she returned at low tide and miraculously found the ring.

The story traveled via the local paper and the bride’s name was seized by my family to be mine. It was ridiculous, it was impossible for a child to spell and I discarded it a long time ago. But like a good fairy’s gift, I gained the ability to find things I had lost.

The next chapter in this story amazes me to this day. In a box I have a chewed, and mangled gold bangle. It is that old pink gold with small raised beads of gold, and with pearls and garnets set in a central motive. A pointed clasp clips it together and a fine gold safety chain is also attached. It is Victorian and not particularly valuable, but has a certain charm. The bracelet had found it’s way to me via my grandmother and was small so I suspect she wore it as a girl. I was at university at the time so it must have been a holiday and I was on a day trip to Heacham  beach. My memory is vague here, but there was a boyfriend in train and I suspect an amount of rolling in the sand took place. When I arrived home, the bracelet was gone. I told my father and he looked a bit strange and asked where exactly I was on the beach. I described the spot and he pulled one of his “ wizard of great power” faces and told me the story of the wedding ring.

So the next day back we went and searched the spot, but no bracelet. I felt despondent, not so much for it’s loss, but more not wanting my father to be wrong. So we went to the tiny pub and sitting down at the bar, I told the landlord about the bracelet. He made one of those deeply meaningful Norfolk sounds, “Ahhrrrrrrr”, which is both a statement and a question. A silence followed while he waited for his dramatic moment as the whole room paused to listen in.

“Yor bracelet be at the Poalise station. Golden retreeeever found he yesterdi”.

You can do your own translation.

And so it was, ten minutes later I returned to the bar, with my bracelet, much battered and chewed, the name of the finder and their address in the village, and a tin of Chum. The final purchase was a bottle of the finder’s favourite beer and later that afternoon I delivered the thank you gifts to a delighted old man, whose dog licked me furiously.

My father was not a bit surprised when I came home with the bracelet. He had a theory that I would be able to throw away any amount of valuable objects at this spot and they would always return  with the next tide. And to this day, I believe him.