Where I used to live

Oliver and Olivia most popular baby names in Hertfordshire

Oliver Cheshire

Oliver Cheshire, from Hitchin

I just discovered that Oliver and Olivia are the most popular baby names in Hertfordshire, according to the Hertfordshire County Council 2014 Registration Service.

Can’t think of many famous Hertford Olivers, but Oliver Cromwell stayed overnight at the Salisbury Arms in 1647. He liked it so much he now haunts it.

Sadly, I can’t find any famous Olivias whatsoever from these parts. But Olivia Coleman’s from Norfolk. Not too far.

olivia coleman broadchurch

In Hertford, the most popular boys’ names are William, Henry, Oliver, Theodore, Alexander, Edward and George. George Ezra is from Hertford and is called George, obviously. George-Ezra

For Hertford girls, it’s Isabella, Alice, Georgia, Olivia, Eva and Penelope.

No comment. Don’t want to get beaten up in Waitrose.

As I said to my cat Bollinger earlier, name snobbery is a terrible thing. I’m not a name snob as such, but I do find unimaginative copycat naming a bit sad. And I am partial to an unusual name.

Over the years, I’ve worked with a Horatio, an Anastasia, a Che (named after Guevara), a Byron and a Hieronymus … but I do work in the media.

Meanwhile in real life, I have a friend called Jesus. My godson is named after a medieval Japanese knight (but shortens his name to something more normal-sounding). My friend H (a novelist) once had a hamster called Clytemnestra. And I had a great uncle called Theodore Octavius Christiansen Peter Tversted. We called him Uncle Teddy.

Anyway, must rush. I have to feed my Pit Bulls Chantelle, Charmain and Tyler. Talking of which, here’s Katie Hopkins being a ridiculous name snob

Katie? What sort of name is that? Sooo Stevenage.

London to Hertford fare shoots up

‘A single to Hertford North please,’ I said to the man at Euston (19 miles from Hertford). ‘That’s H.E.R.T.F.O.R.D.’

I always say that as no-one can spell anymore.

‘No, there isn’t a Hertford North,’ he informed me.

I decided to humour him. ‘Ah. Maybe the ticket says Hertford Stations?’

‘Yes,’ he replied. ‘That’s £123.50.’

‘But it’s just a few miles away and it was only £17 yesterday.’

‘No. It’s definitely £123.50. It must have gone up.’

Suddenly I twigged.

‘How are you spelling it?’


‘But it has an E. I said it had an E.’

‘No. That’s HURTford.’

‘No. I live there. It’s pronounced HARTford but spelt HERTford.’

‘OK. That’s £17.’

‘Sorry I confused you.’ (Yes, I actually said that but I am English).

‘That’s OK.’

hartford cheshire

The wrong Hertford – I mean Hartford. In Cheshire. In the north. A long way from London.

Tour de France 2014 – guide to the perils of Cambridgeshire and Essex

Not that I’m envious , but it appears the Tour de France 2014 is snubbing Hertfordshire and has opted for Cambridgeshire and Esssex instead.

The Cambridge Tour de France Team

The Cambridge Tour de France Team

The Essex Tour de France Team

The Essex Tour de France Team

Presumably they chose Cambridgeshire for its challenging and frankly stunning scenery.


As for Essex, well let’s hope no one gets a pneu crevé and ends up being captured and forcibly spray-tanned by locals. joey essex

Then there are the language issues. Cambridge undergraduates present a real challenge.

Here’s a typical phrase:

Like awesome Hugo! This is totes defo dorbs! This race is most adorable Hugo.

And some helpful translations for use during the Essex stretch:

Shaaa aaaaaaap!!! Well done.

Reem!!! Jolly good.

Hundred ‘cent!!! Excellent.

I’m well jel!!! I’m most envious of your abilities.

It’s well boring me aaart!!! I’m getting a bit bored now.

If they’d come to Hertfordshire, none of this would have been necessary. But I’d obviously have warned them against Ware, where cannibalism and the random hanging of foreigners is still rife.

Draped In Exquisite Natural Daylight

A leaflet advertising Down Hall Country House caught my attention today, largely thanks to its rococo wording.

Not only does it possess ‘tranquillity and serenity’, ‘high ceilings and wireless internet’, but it boasts that it’s ‘draped in exquisite natural daylight’.

Lovely. But isn’t EVERYTHING draped in exquisite natural daylight? At least everything above ground, during daylight hours. Surely ‘draped in exquisite natural daylight’ could be used as an epithet for anywhere –

Baghdad – draped in exquisite natural daylight

Mogadishu – draped in exquisite natural daylight

Peckham – draped in exquisite natural daylight

Kabul – draped in exquisite natural daylight

Swindon – draped in exquisite natural daylight

Middlesbrough – draped in exquisite natural daylight

Feel free to add your own.