Red Fox, £4.99, ISBN 978-1-862-30981-4
General Trivia, 2009
Would you believe that Big Pants, Burpy and Bumface is basically a list of names? Funny names, of course, although something tells me the people who bear those names may not be completely giddy with laughter. Author Russell Ash says that these names are mined from actual records – census, draft registrations, immigration lists, even passenger lists – so they are all real unless stated otherwise. Taken together, this is an encyclopedia of a form of parental abuse in action.
The names are listed based on categories: insults (on the poor person with the name), just plain weird, toilet-related, and more. Not only are some of the more memorable celebrity brat names are present, there are also gems such as Hugh Bums, Brane B Fingeroff (that’s the name of a German woman), and Urine Fartabella (an Italian woman who lived in Ohio in 1920). Pepsi Cola Brown doesn’t sound that bad in comparison, and Kicki Salami may consider himself blessed that at least his parents didn’t name him Certain Lard. I wonder at the relationship between Katie Kate Ka-ke-tah Potato and her parents, but I’m sure Acne Fountain is fine with being given that name by truly the most tasteful parents around. Oh, and do you know that Nicholas Barbon, said to be the inventor of fire insurance after the Great Fire of London in 1666, was born Nicholas If-Jesus-Christ-Had-Not-Died-For-Thee-Thou-Hadst-Been-Damned Barebon? I wonder why he changed his name. I wonder whether the twins Free-gift and Fear-not Lulham would have liked to change their names too.
Oh, and if we go by the practice where the woman adopts the husband’s surname after hyphenating it in front of her own surname, Hattie Cock may breathe a sigh of relief after marrying Thomas Roach in 1912 and being able to go by Hattie Cock-Roach from thereon. I’m not sure Elizabeth Burger gets a reprieve or a bigger anchor around her neck when she marries Frederick McDonald, though. It really must be love when Deborah K Hare married Ian M Brain in 1988, ditto Lottie L Large marrying Francis H Butt in 1913.
And if we go by the practice of the woman adopting her husband’s last name after marriage, Lillian Teterson must truly love her husband because she married an Erastus K Fillerup in 1924, thus earning the privilege of being addressed as Lillian Fillerup.
Simplicity is good, but I don’t think Box Cox would agree. On the other hand, I have to wonder what Magic Enchantress Creamer’s parents were thinking. I’d hate to be her throughout high school. Safety First must really hate being the eldest in the family, because the parents ran out of creative ideas when the next child was born and given the more harmless name of June First.
The only thing missing in this book is the X-rated chapter. Come on, I know it exists, and it must be somewhere, just not here because this is a book for kids.
All in all, Big Pants, Burpy and Bumface is a pretty entertaining fluffy read especially for slow days or boring long journeys. It may not be the most educational book around, but it does provide insight into how much the parents of these kids must secretly hate their children, especially those with kids born in the 20th century and after. I mean, why else would anyone do this to the kids? Also, don’t quote me, but I suspect adults would get more mileage from this book than kids, as some of the unintentionally dirty funny names would probably sail over the younger kid’s head.