There has been a certain amount of speculation as to why I chose the name 'Bertie' for my VERY SOON to be arriving wire-haired fox terrier puppy.
It's been great fun finding out what people associate with the name. Well at least it was until my elderly mother got on the case....
I can now exclusively reveal that Bertie is in fact NOT named after our King Edward VII (fine chap though he was, and on the throne at the time when my house in Aberdeen was built). Nor was I thinking of the precocious little boy in Alexander McCall Smith's novel '44 Scotland Street' (I rather doubt that my little pup will master either the saxophone or the Italian language by age 5). And I can absolutely promise a certain very good friend and housemate that I hold no special affection for the former prime-minister of Ireland, Bertie Ahern!
You know how it is that it's never hard to read the expression on your mother's face, however much she might be trying to conceal it.... It took about a nano-second to detect that my mum was, well, how to put it gently, lukewarm about the name I chose for the new pup. It took a little while longer to find out why.
Before my stay with my parents last week, I had never heard of one 'Bertie Bellamy', cousin of my maternal grandmother Lucy Hargreaves (nee Bellamy). This side of the family lived in Castleford, South Yorkshire, and owned a factory which produced liquorice allsorts and 'Pomfret cakes'. My great great grandfather Joseph started up the business, 'Bellamy's', which then was passed on to his son Arthur, brother of my great grandfather. Arthur was unpopular, as was his son Bertie. My grandfather Francis Hargreaves, on marriage to my granny, gave up a good job as an analyst for the Coal Board to join his wife's family business, but was never happy, considering himself to have been unfairly treated by both Arthur and Bertie...A fact that my mother remembers well.
(You could still buy Bellamy's pomfret cakes when I was very young, but the factory was sold to Mackintosh's some time in the late 1960's).
So this is Bertie's first gift to me - a snippet of family history that would have otherwise been lost.
And believe it or not, my childhood pet, a guinea pig who lived to the grand old age of eight years old, was named 'Arthur' by my brother and me.
As for the real reason for the name Bertie? Well I decided against an overtly Scottish name, to avoid confusion with all the Scotties, Westies and Cairns in these parts. The slightly comic appearance of the wire-haired fox terrier seemed to demand a comical name. Why would I look further than to one of our finest writers, P.G. Wodehouse? Just a couple of friends did guess correctly, it was of course always the wonderful character Bertie Wooster that I had in mind.
Does this cast me in the role of Jeeves, I wonder? And need I worry about the sort of friends my Bertie will make?
Less than 24 hours to go now.
Expect some photos (of course) and an announcement about a new blog around midweek.