Double-barrelled surnames aren’t just for toffs any more

I’m sorry to tell you that I recently became obsessed with the wedding of Brooklyn Beckham and his bride, Nicola Peltz. Given the highbrow topics I discuss on this page, I know it’s easy to assume I’m a cerebral sort who thinks only of Aristotelian ideas and how to orchestrate world peace, but I became completely sucked in by the three-day hullabaloo in Florida: the trade-fair marquees; the flower bill; the constant outfit changes by the entire cast, as if starring in an Ayckbourn farce; David Beckham weeping through his speech and so on. The detail I liked most, though, and I did genuinely like it, was that the bride and groom have joined their surnames and are now the Peltz Beckhams. It does vaguely sound like the sort of thing you might take after a heavy night – “Darling, do you need a Peltz Beckham?” – but still, how touching.

They’re not alone. According to the Deed Poll Office, the number of women choosing to keep their maiden name and double-barrel it with their new ­husband’s has risen 30 per cent in a year, which is splendid news for ­multiple reasons.

First, it’s 2022 and why on earth should women relinquish their identities for somebody called Smith? No offence to the Smiths of this world. It’s a lovely name and I frequently wish it were mine when I’m on the phone to EE about my mobile contract, trying to remember what the phonetic word for “N” is. I have on more than one occasion plumped for “naughty”, which almost certainly gave off the wrong impression when discussing data usage.

I’ve spent 37 years defending my surname, growing into it, even feeling proud of it when I’m not being maligned on Twitter as an obscenely wealthy toff who eats children sprinkled with grated gold bar for breakfast (we only have the gold bar at Christmas). Why should I give up my surname for a husband who’ll pretend he doesn’t know how to load a dishwasher for the duration of our married life?

Second, it means that those of us who already have double-barrelled names will have more company and, thus, when the tumbrils start rolling, it will be harder to tell who’s for the chop and who isn’t. Third, and perhaps most importantly, double-barrelled names are useful for restaurant bookings, because the receptionist often assumes you’re posh and gives you a decent table.

On the downside, they’re an absolute nuisance when it comes to filling in forms and you have to squeeze your surname into a box so small an ant would struggle to park in it. Plus, people may think you’re a footballer, since there are a lot of double-barrels kicking about in the Premier League. If this trend continues, it will also be extremely vexing to ring up a restaurant to book a table only to discover that the newly-wed Smith-Bogginses have already bagged it. I’m unsure about what happens if I ever get married, too. Sling my new husband’s name on to mine and become triple-barrelled?

It feels a bit Georgette Heyer.

And what happens if I fall madly in love with another double-barrelled man and we have to become quadruple-barrelled? I’m not sure anybody in the EE call centre, or my patchy understanding of the phonetic alphabet, is ready for it.

£1m? Just go to the coast and freeze your entire body for free

Have you watched Freeze the Fear with Wim Hof? It’s a new BBC reality series, presented by Lee Mack and Holly Willoughby, in which a handful of celebrities you faintly recognise try to overcome their insecurities by leaping into icy water. Wim Hof is the Dutch “iceman” who’s become very famous in recent years for telling us all to take cold showers. An appalled BBC mole tells me it cost £1m an episode to make, which is very silly when cold-water swimming can be much cheaper.

Last weekend, while visiting Guernsey, I leapt into 9C water wearing an old M&S swimsuit borrowed from my stepmother. My legs hurt, my chest hurt and my breathing became shallow until I could bear it no longer and leapt out after a few minutes. But then I had a prolonged period of tingly bliss while my body warmed up, and the hangover I’d earned on Easter Sunday vanished.

For the same effect, head to the nearest coast and splash around like a spaniel. Although apologies to all the beach-goers who had their Easter Monday morning ruined by my brother shouting about his testicles disappearing. You don’t get that sort of muck on the BBC.

I cancelled my Disney+ account but the fairy tale never ends

In an economy drive, 1.5m of us have cancelled various streaming subscriptions in the first three months of this year. If this is you, congratulations! In an effort to do the same, a couple of months ago I cancelled my £7.99 Disney+ subscription. Or at least I thought I had, but this week I spied that it was still being debited from my account despite my spending at least five days trying to work out how to cancel it in the first place. Funny how it’s so easy to join these services and so much harder to cancel them. If you’re one of the millions who’s managed to do it successfully, well done. Jolly clever indeed. Have you considered joining Mensa, or perhaps the government? We could do with a brainbox like you.

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