“What's in a Name?"

When I lived at Barrow Green everyone seemed to have a nickname, and hadthere been a league table, the Boorman family would have been champions. Gaffer Boorman came to Teynham from the Weald. He is thought by some to have brought Goal Running to this area. Gaffer, who lived in Station Row, had already retired when I first knew him. His family consisted of five sons and a daughter. Three sons had nicknames:- “Bowie”, “Whistle” and “Brogs”. “Bowie” carried on the tradition; all of his seven sons had nicknames, “Bowie Jnr.”, “Massie”, “Bunny”, “Fatty”, “Mett”, “Chitty” and “Jacko”. Girls did not appear to have nicknames although there was a tall lady who rejoiced in the name of “Tiny”. She lived at Barrow Green where alternative names were rife. We had “Cobble”, “Noddy”, “Boxer”, “Nutser”, “Tanner”, “Billy”, “Tiffy” and “Corny”. Also on the list were “Navies”, “Waffles”, “Duffle” and so on.

Where did they all come from? I suspect a lot of them originated from school days. Our school mates from Frognal included “Cocker”, “Fattie Furmo”, “Punch”, “Didder”, and “Pudner”. From Conyer we have “Spinko”, “Podgy”,“Toddy”, “Camel”, “Nooky” and others.

Teachers did not escape either. In the Autumn of 1932 when I started in Standard Five, an attractive young lady walked into the classroom carrying a briefcase with P.A.N. stencilled on the outside. Phyllis Newman had arrived and was immediately known as “Pan”, later corrupted to “Pam”. A great teacher Phyllis Newman. I owed her a lot. Soon after a male teacher joined the school, David Evans, who straight away became “Sammy”. How or why I do not know. Our headteacher was “Flimp”; I would think a name that emanated from his school days. (He never heard us call him that but I suspect he knew all the same.)

I must confess I had a hand in one nickname. A young boy was born at The Crescent; hard to believe in his young days a thin, slim lad. Suffice to say we called him “Spadger”, an alternative name we had for a sparrow.

Me? .............Well, from when I was a toddler until the day he died I was always known to my father as “Nobbler”. When I started at Teynham School I became “Stubbo”, and then my love of school plays and concerts was my downfall. One Christmas a few of us boys sang “Ten Green Bottles”. I sang the last line which as you know goes.........."if one green bottle should accidentally fall, there'd be nothing but the sme........hell hanging on the wall". From then on until the end of my school days I was known as “Smell” - nothing I hasten to add to do with personal hygiene!!!!!!

There is even a row of houses in Greenstreet (still standing) that had a nickname. According to my Grandmother, at the turn of the century, the occupants of these buildings had a reputation of being rather inquisitive. Any activity in their area, up would go the sash windows and out popped the heads to see what was going on. This earned the cottages the name of “Sheep's Head Row”! (Not a lot of people know that!!!!!!).