I have only known one female in my life called Claudette and that was her middle name that she never used as she hated it. This haberdashery woman from Kentucky initially introduced herself to me as Annabelle C. Crompton (it may have been either Crompton or Cropper as it is now over 50 years ago, and time has faded my memory to such particulars).
As is prone to happen, when a dashing young male traveller who has emigrated to Canada from West Yorkshire meets the eye-catching 25-year-old beauty from Kentucky who is bored with her life and just doesn’t know what next to do, close liaison is always on the cards. For the following three days and nights, Annabelle and I spent a large part of our time ‘getting to know each’ much better.
One late evening while walking together, I asked Annabelle what the initial ‘C’ of her middle name stood for. At first, she refused to tell me, and it was easy to tell that my mere reference to the ‘C’ had acutely embarrassed her. It later transpired that the ‘C’ stood for Claudette and that Annabelle was, in fact, the middle name that her parents had given her, and Claudette was her first name. She told me that she had been ridiculed so often between birth and her 18th year of life that when she left home and moved to Kentucky some five or six years earlier, she switched her first and middle names and effectively assumed an identity more to her liking. I asked her why she had then chosen to keep the memory of a name she disliked intensely as an initial between her Christian and surname and simply replied that while she hated the sound of Claudette, she was rather partial to hearing ‘Annabelle C. Cro……’. Her final word on the matter, “It has quite a nice ring to it, don’t you think, Bill?”
I suppose I’ll never know if this explanation was a Kentucky joke or an American poke at the Irish man from West Yorkshire, England where middle names were then as uncommon as a four-leaved clover. Now, whenever I think back on my brief stop-over in Kentucky in the year of 1964, it’s never Claudette I think about, but the fetching Annabelle; the American beauty who captured my mind and entrapped my body for three marvellous days and nights that only a good man would want to forget.
Love and peace Bill xxx