Askamum story: Oliver and Olivia were 2010’s favourite baby names

Top traditional names remain popular, according to 2010 national statistics released today.

Top 100 baby names for boys and girls in a collage tree

By Soraya Auer

Oliver and Olivia, for the second year running, were the most popular baby names across England and Wales in 2010, according to statistics released today.

The Office of National Statistics’ 2010 list revealed Oliver, Jack, Harry and Alfie kept their top four places on the boys’ list.

Sophie, Emily, Lily and Amelia all rose into the top five spots in the list of girl names but there were no new entries into the top 10.

The fastest rising boy name in the top 100 was Ollie, while Olly was 113.

Despite claims celebrities influence new parents more now than ever, traditional names were very popular.

Olivia took top spot for seven English regions while Sophie was popular in the East and Lily in the South West. Welsh mums favoured the names Oliver and Ruby, possibly influenced by Charlotte’s Church’s three-year-old daughter Ruby. For the boys, Jack was popular in the North East while Oliver came top in eight English regions.

New entries into the boy’s top 100 were Bobby, Caleb, Jenson, Dexter and Kayden, and into the girls’ top 100 were Annabelle, Eliza, Laila, Maryam and Maisy.

Maisy saw the highest rise in popularity, rising from 141 in 2009 to take 100 in 2010. For the boys, Ollie saw the largest rise in the top 100, rising from 115 in 2009 to take 63 in 2010.

The statistics reveal that Alfie, among baby boy names, was the highest climbing new entry to the top 10 in the past decade (It was 53 in 2000). This could have been helped along by the success of Lily Allen’s song Alfie in 2007.

Evie was the highest climbing entry to the girl’s top 10 since 2000 with a rise of 101 places.

Over the past decade in the top 100 lists, boy’s name Kayden rose 1,326 places to 99 and Lexi, for the girls, rose 1,949 to 47.

Click here to see this on the askamum website


Askamum story: New Zealand bans 102 names

Celebrities wishing to name their kids creatively will want to avoid New Zealand where names like Lucifer, Adolf Hitler and Messiah will be rejected.

boy and girl sitting wearing gender symbol t-shirt

By Soraya Auer

New Zealand is cracking down on parents getting too creative when naming their children after Lucifer was requested three times.

The country’s Registrar of Births, Deaths and Marriages’ list of 102 names rejected in the past two years includes Baron, Bishop, Duke, General, Judge, King, Knight and Mr because they are considered too close to titles.

Punctuation marks . (full stop), * (asterisk) and / (slash), Messiah, Adolf Hitler, 89 and single letters C, D, I and T were also turned down.

This crack down comes after the registrar made headlines in 2008 for allowing the names Violence, Number 16 Bus Shelter, and for a set of twins, Benson and Hedges (after the cigarette brand).

In 2008, a New Zealand judge ruled in favour of a nine-year-old girl’s wish to change her name, Talula Does the Hula From Hawaii, because it embarrassed her so much she hadn’t told people her real name.

Judge Rob Murfitt said odd names could scar children as they grew up. He said: ‘It makes a fool of a child and sets her up with a social disability and handicap.’

Name choice is also subject to a naming law in Sweden where the names Superman, Metallica, Elvis and Brfxxccxxmnpcccclllmmnprxvclmnckssqlbb11116 (nicknamed Albin) were not approved. However, the names Lego and Google were allowed.

A judge in the Dominion Republic submitted a proposal to ban names that are either confusing or give no indication of gender in 2007, reported the Toronto Globe and Mail. Examples were Qeurida Pina (Dear Pineapple) and Tonton Ruiz (Dummy Ruiz).

Click here to see this on the askamum website

Askamum story: Enjoy a family-friendly film extravaganza this August

The world’s biggest movie magazine, Empire, is hosting BIG SCREEN, a must-see event for all movie lovers, young and old…

Empire Big Screen

By Soraya Auer

A family-friendly film extravaganza is coming to the O2 in London this August, celebrating more than 30 films…

At BIG SCREEN, from 12th-14th August 2011 adult and children alike will enjoy the biggest and most anticipated films, meeting the stars and exciting live performances.

BIG SCREEN will show 30 films over the course of three days, not including sneak peeks to forth coming blockbusters like James Cameron’s Titantic 3D, Daniel Radcliffe’s The Woman in Black and the creators of Wallace and Gromit‘s Arthur Christmas and The Pirates! In an Adventure with Scientists.

Families have plenty to choose from at the extravaganza, with screenings of the award-winning Up, Wall. E, as well as all the Toy Story films, Finding Nemo, Ratatouille, Cars and Cars 2, the first three films in the Twilight Saga, and much more.

For those interested in behind-the-scenes goings on, go on Saturday to see the live theatrical show ‘The Making of Star Wars: Industrial Light and Magic’, taking you behind the scenes of the well-loved films and reveal new content to be part of the upcoming release of Star Wars: The Complete Saga on Blu-ray.

There is also the London Film Museum Showcase (the only museum of its kind in Great Britain), which will display some of the most iconic costumes and props from films like Indiana Jones and The Bourne Ultimatum and television shows likeThunderbirds and Doctor Who.

Not exclusive to just adults or just children are these fun activities for families:

Animal Movie Stars: See the owls, cats, squirrels and other animals from such great movies as Charlie & The Chocolate Factory and 101 Dalmations.

Disney’s The Muppets: Enjoy a special satellite conversation with The Muppets, who are going to reveal a clip of Disney’s The Muppets, not out in cinemas until February 2012.

Star Wars: A must for would-be Jedi everywhere – Star Wars Padawan Training School, taking place daily.

To Infinity & Beyond: Celebrating 25 Years of Pixar Animation Studios – A celebratory screening of all the Pixar films and shorts, which will include a preview of their next film, Brave.

Buy tickets 
Tickets are £10 for individual sessions, £35 for day and standard tickets and £65 for a one day diamond tickets, which allows access to exclusive studio showcase sessions.

Click here to see this on the askamum website

Askamum story: Talk to Channel 4 about love and relationships as a mum-to-be

For a documentary series, The Garden Productions wants to hear from parents-to-be on your views on love as you prepare for parenthood…

Channel 4 logo

By Soraya Auer

The team that brought you the BAFTA award-winning series One Born Every Minute and 24 Hours in A&E on Channel 4 is looking to speak to expectant parents and step-families.

The Garden Productions is producing a seven part documentary series about love and relationships to be broadcast in 2012 on Channel 4.

“This intelligent and sensitive series will reflect relationships throughout a lifetime – from first kiss to final farewell and everything else in between,” said Emma Tutty of The Garden Productions. “Across the generations, we will explore what it really means to be in love.”

For the episode about bringing home a first baby, the team is particularly interested in speaking to couples expecting their first baby together and are due to give birth between September and December 2011, about their views on love as they prepare for parenthood.

If you’ve been trying for a baby for a while or your pregnancy was a surprise and your lifestyle has suddenly changed because of it, they would like to hear from you.

The documentary series will reflect on the experiences of people from different walks of life and how love has been significant in their lives. To explore the universal joys of love, more than the setbacks, The Garden Productions are looking to talk to couples about their experiences of love.

For another film examining step-families, The Garden Productions would like to speak to families with teenagers who are working through the complications of merging households. This will look at how children are coping with having a new ‘parent’ figure in the home and what parents are doing differently in their relationship the second time around.

If you are a couple expecting a first baby or you are part of a step-family, the production team would love to hear from you.

Please email or call The Garden on 020 3465 9060 to find out more. Calling does not oblige you to take part in the series.

Click here to see the story on the askamum website

Self-harming into adulthood

In a big city, it goes without say, there are a lot of people. After three months away, I’m living in London again, enjoying the sights, (not so nice) smells, and buzz that comes with being one of seven million inhabitants.

Having lived around this city for most of my formative years, I was proud to be a ‘Londoner’ – happy to identify myself to a place with such life, intellect, culture and diversity. But for the first time in my life – yesterday – I was ashamed of being one of the seven million people who walk the streets of London and fail to notice the next person silently in need of help.

While standing on a crowded tube train during evening rush hour, a woman, no older than 35, walked on and stood next to me. She was overweight, had dyed black hair with grey roots and unfortunately fitted a stereotype by sticking her hand into a plastic bag for more crisps than could fill her palm. I like to think I don’t judge and I most certainly didn’t take in her physical appearance until I saw her left arm.

Self harm scars

Self harm scars

There were parallel scars, close together, from her wrist to at least 10 centimetres up her forearm. I’ve seen so many types of people on London tube trains, from pervy foreign men to performing unknown rappers. And it is very easy to look away, and continue on with one’s day without a second thought.

It’s been over 36 hours and this woman is still on my mind. Who is she? Why did she ever feel the need to self harm? Does she have anyone to talk to? Will she do it again…

Oxford English Dictionary

Self-harm noun 

deliberate injury to oneself, typically as a manifestation of a psychological or psychiatric disorder.

The last time the word self-harming meant anything to me I was 16-years-old and my best friend was in a very low place and too far away from me for me to do more than send a supportive email or phone call. That was a scary time for me and I thought I felt very strongly against self-harming.

But then, one day, years later, I had a moment when I was so upset and hurting inside that I wanted a more physical pain to distract me. I took a knife and pathetically tried to cut my thighs. I couldn’t even attempt my wrists because I’m funny about seeing my veins and the thought of blood. I barely broke the skin. Like I said, a pathetic attempt and thankfully I’ve never felt like that again.

Self-harming is different to suicide because it’s not usually an attempt of suicide but just a way of expressing a deep emotional state of unhappiness or low self-esteem. It’s a coping mechanism. It’s not given nearly enough attention by medical services or support lines beyond the teenage years by my understanding anyway. Once I’d hit 20, I almost forgot that some people still feel the need to hurt themselves beyond the turbulent hormonal age of 16. Some people’s lives don’t improve or find solace in something greater.

Research shows that self-harming is most common among 15-19 year-olds while some start as young as 11. You might be finding work or school hard, suffering in an abusive relationship or even coming to terms with one’s sexuality. And self-harming isn’t just cutting oneself; it could be alcohol abuse, starving yourself, pulling out your hair, hitting yourself or burning your skin with a cigarette. It doesn’t really matter what brings someone to do it, the fact that they feel doing something to themselves is the only option they have, that is serious.

And this unknown woman on the tube is just one of possibly many that continue hurting themselves into adulthood. What do we do as nation, city or community do to reach out to someone like her? Does she even want someone to notice her scars or has she got used to them being there?

Would she have thought I was patronising or nosy if I’d said something to her? Or would she have been touched that a stranger could care? I don’t know and I think a lot more needs to be said on this hidden social problem that affects more people silently than we even know. We can be our own worst enemy, and if no one notices, it will not stop.

I for one, will hopefully say something next time. It never hurts to try.

Self harming awareness ribbon

Self harming awareness ribbon

If you come across the blog and need help, please ask someone.

Read this help from Mind, a mental health charity, or visit Harmless, a voluntary organisation for those who self-harm, their friends and families.

Facing Demons

I’ve been afraid of a few things over the years. When I was little, I was scared of the TV program The X Files and of putting my feet down on the floor for fear of having something or someone grab out from under the bed. While I admit these are typical of childhood horrors, fear most certainly continues into adulthood.

What am I talking about? Well I could mean a lot of things, like fear of failure and inadequacy or the continued longstanding fear of creepy crawlies (some things just can’t be grown out of).

I’m not trying to make a bold statement on the human psyche or the nature of fear – I’m trying to face my own demons.

I raise my hand to it – I’ve had a fear of writing for longer than I am willing to admit. I worried I had run out of things to say, that my style was flawed, or that I was forcing myself into the wrong genre. Why have I felt like this for so long? I’d be lying if I said the criticism of others hadn’t got to me, but I think it is deeper than just that. I’ve had such high expectations for myself that failing on the first, second or third round knocked me to the side and it’s taken a little while to pick up the boxing gloves again. Someone would always be writing better than me while I let those fears keep hold of me.

Which is why this is quite a turning point. It has been a very long time since I have written something with my own voice (even if it is out of fear of the fear!) and despite it being at 3am in the morning, I am glad I conquered the reluctance to put finger to keyboard and just wrote as my thoughts came to mind unfiltered. It’s a start for me to reclaim the satisfaction I once had from writing anything and everything.

But don’t worry, soppy self-deprecating writing stops here (she says, over confidently). I’ll begin to edit from the next post. Journalism, critical and fictional writing begin from humble sources, be it a napkin or a blog. Here is my start in the latter.