What's in a name?
My name is McSporran. I’m Scottish. And if I had a penny for every person who said to me, on introduction, “That’s a very Scottish name, isn’t it?”, I could buy Scotland.
Perhaps minus the contents.
The thing that troubles me most is why. Why say that to a person? Do I perhaps look as if I am unaware that I have a very Scottish name? Given a recorded clan ancestry back to the 11th century, lost before then because of Viking destruction of monasteries. With a clan chieftain buried on Iona, where only kings were buried. An ancient and royal clan, older than the Campbells and the McDonalds.
What is it, I wonder, that makes them think I need to be told, ‘that’s a very Scottish name‘?
They may as well tell me, “Hello, you have a nose.”
So bemused was I, that for a time I started asking them, “Why did you say that?” In genuine curiosity, I wanted to know. I needed to know, “Why did you say that?”
Without exception the response was as if I'd asked to borrow money. Struck dumb, staring at their shoes, not knowing what to say.
And there it was.
There are many of them. People who don’t know what to say and have to say something, even of it‘s thoughtless of the person they say it to.
The second most popular question to ask a McSporran, “Is that your real name?”
I used to ask people, why would I not use my real name? Or tell, them “No, I only use it when I want to be incognito”, or “No I‘m just attention seeking“.
They never laugh, the pass-remarkables.
Now I just smile and nod. “Yes. It’s my real name“.
At least they didn’t tell me it was Scottish.
My brother was sent out of his form class at school. The new teacher thinking he was taking the proverbial when giving his surname to register. Humiliating him in front of the whole class, she apologised only to him. A week later.
Registering for evening classes, I am destined never to be the teacher’s pet as I respond that “I’ve never heard that before” to them telling me, in front of the whole, usually smaning class, that I have a very Scottish name.
My sister and I turned up at a B&B to be told, “Oh you’re real. My friends thought someone was playing a Hallowe’en joke on me, ha ha”. We had to ask her why, well we didn’t really, but it was worthy of a squirm making her say it was because of our surname. Fortunately she hadn’t given the room away.
Third in the list of questions to ask a McSporran - “Oh are you related to the postman on Gigha? He does all the jobs there, eh?” For the record, no I’m not, and he’s retired now anyway so does no jobs, but was awarded the British Empire Medal for his trouble and possibly 11 pensions.
Where possible, I no longer introduce myself with my full name. I am a single name introduction.
So if you meet a McSporran, and you just might, please be gentle with them and bite your tongue, remembering this; Our McSporran clan ancestor, buried on Iona, is Paul Na Sponan.
He was Irish.
Now you know.