16th March 2014
My earliest memory growing up in post-war Britain was of having a surname that mustn't be shouted out aloud. Back in those days I longed for a name that was 'normal'. And, it came to pass: at 19 I married and took on the (normal) name of my new husband. Now, decades later and in another country I find that my original 'strange' maiden name has again come to the fore. Every day I open the mailbox and there it is on most envelopes 'Madame OLSWANG' (from the original Lithuanian Holshvank). I almost feel like saying to the postman 'Shhh!' Old habits die hard. But now I see that there is new legislation about to be passed in France that all women will have the name on their birth certificate as their default name. Indeed, birth certificates will act as official, whole-life, documents recording the default name plus any future (lesser) 'noms d'usage' if the person so wishes, e.g. after marriages/divorces etc. I now understand my parents' original reluctance to broadcast our name: they were first-generation immigrants not wanting to call attention to themselves. But me, now living in another land? I'm at last proud to see my name: it's who I am. Just look at my blog/author nom de plume : anagram true of 'A Olswang'!