Having been convinced that I didn't want children, I'd never made a shortlist of baby names, and Mr Fantapants hadn't given it much thought either. Convinced from the start I was having a girl, I didn't bother with boy names at first, preferring instead to get to a shortlist by shooting down Mr F's more outlandish suggestions. (Tiger would brand our child a Richmond supporter in AFL-mad Melbourne; Cathol sounded like a brand of petrol; Spitfire was just plain ridiculous.) In the end, we were tossing up between Max (a great name but so popular in recent years - would he be one of five Maxes in his class?) and Digby (which I liked in theory but was concerned about a real live person having to live with). Given our indecision (even while I was in labour we still couldn't commit), it's surprising how easily we arrived at a girl's name.
In the opening minutes of our very first 'what will we name it?' (Mr F was very keen on the baby's sex being a surprise so 'it' was it for 9 months, something that filled me with maternal guilt whenever I referred to 'it'), Mr F suggested Marmalade for a girl. 'It's such a lovely word,' he said, plus we are both fans of Marmalade Atkins. I agreed in theory, but couldn't commit in practice.
'I like Phoebe,' I said. 'After Holden Caulfield's little sister.'
'I like it too,' said Mr F. 'Phoebe Marmalade has a good ring to it.'
That was it. For the next 8 months I regularly denounced Mr F's suggestions for boys' names (William Butler Yeats, Thelonious, Sherman -after the tank, natch, Wolfgang) but, whenever we discussed the possibility of having a girl, Phoebe Marmalade sounded pretty perfect. And it still does.