A rose by any other name

M Le President handed me a medal on Tuesday for the “Velocio UFOLEP 2009”. Appropriately enough it features a rider slinging his handlebars across the finish line or more accurately, in my case, slumped exhausted over the handlebars. Unfortunately, whichever club awarded me the medal spelt my name incorrectly “SHEREE WATHLEY”.

This is all pretty much par for the course. Neither my christian name nor my surname are that common and over the years I’ve had some interesting spellings of both. My favourite misspelling was “Cherry Whipley”. Now that sounds like the name you might’ve found on a card in a telephone kiosk advertising any number of services for a fee; either that, or some sort of calorific, ice cream dessert from  McDonalds.

I’ve never found out why my parents called me Sheree. They had been planning to call me Ian, which would have been novel. My mother was convinced she was having a boy on account of my early proficiency at kicking. Generally though my parents favoured names which cannot be shortened and, indeed, no one has ever attempted to shorten my name.

Of course when you have a slightly unusual name, you tend to come in for a fair amount of ribbing, particularly at school. But, honestly, it never bothered me. In the mid-eighties, I had a secretary with the same name albeit spelt “Sherry” which caused no end of confusion. But other than the afore-mentioned secretary, Mrs Blair (Cherie), an American actress (Sheree North) and a couple of golden retrievers, I’ve not come across any others with the same or similar sounding name.

My surname I acquired when I married my long-suffering husband many, many moons ago. It’s a place in Somerset, which we visited on our honeymoon while staying at Whatley Manor in Wiltshire. My abiding recollection of the honeymoon was our bath, which would have happily accommodated at least four people and had taps shaped like swans heads and necks.

Two days to go

Today’s sports headlines are dominated by the forthcoming Eire v France football match this Saturday. There are, understandably, high levels of anxiety in France that they may not qualify for the World Cup next year in South Africa. Finishing second in one of the less strong groups has already been a savage blow to French pride, I’m not sure they can take being dumped out of the World Cup by the Irish.

L’Equipe has devoted four pages to this very topic, including a run-down on the Irish team by former or current French team mates. Aston Villa’s very own Richard Dunne has been singled out for a special mention on account of his aerial capabilities, particularly from set-pieces. French-speaking Irish pundits such as Tony Cascarino and Liam Brady have been interviewed at length and their views sought on the likely outcome. Everyone seems united in their view that Domenech is the weak link, being much less tactically savvy than Trapattoni.

One current (Loic Remy) and two ex-Nicois players (Rod Fanni and Hugo Lloris) feature in France’s squad along with a whole host of French players currently lighting up the English Premiership and Spain’s La Liga. Leaving aside the one notable absentee from the squad, Frank Ribery, man for man the French are either equal or superior to the Irish in every position. But football is a team game, the Irish have great team spirit and will not be a pushover. Just ask the Italians, who drew 2-2 at Croke Park last month.

Postscript: Friday and L’Equipe has extended it’s coverage to 41/2 pages. No doubt it’ll be going into overdrive this week end with further pre-match coverage tomorrow and the, all important, post match analysis on Sunday. Any bets on 6 pages?

Saturday Postscript: It’s 7 whole pages!