Gone is the thrill of learning an elder’s first name
WHERE did all the honorifics go? I’d love to pinpoint the date when it was suddenly OK for children to be on a first-name basis with adults, instead of calling them Mr or Mrs or Ms So-and-so.
Maybe it’s different round your way but most of the kids I know – including mine – call most of the grown-ups by their given name, barring Mum, Dad, key relatives and selected officials.
When I was a lass it was mandatory to use the formal address with everyone. We wouldn’t dare call our friends’ parents or our parents’ friends Angela or John.
Usually we didn’t even know their first name. Discovering it could be a thrilling but deeply weird moment. But somewhere between the dutiful 1980s of my late childhood and the dubious 2016 of my middle par- enting, the unwritten rules have been relaxed.
Nowadays from the children it’s all “Thanks for having me, Chris” and “Mira, can I please have more”? The situation has deteriorated further at my house. To other people’s kids I’m not even Miranda. I’m Murph.
My country GP father firmly preferred to be called Dr Murphy by everyone.
Indeed, it wasn’t until my wedding day that Dad, in his speech, told my partner of 10 years that he could now use his first name. “What is it?” called out my husband.