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 find 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.