What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet; so Romeo would, were he not Romeo called, retain that dear perfection which he owes, without that title. Romeo, doff thy name, And for that name which is no part of thee, take all myself.
From: Romeo and Juliet (Shakespeare)
So, a rose by any other name would smell as sweet? A rose is a rose is a rose. But is it? A rose is a variety of nouns, a verb, an adjective; a flower, a shower spout, the act of having lifted, a colour … a girl’s name.
And I’m discovering that my name, Judith White, is a variable. A Judith is a Judy is a Jude. But just as there are many different sides to our nature, many different selves to the whole that makes us a person, there are many different Judith Whites in the world, and what’s more, quite a selection of Judith Whites who are writers – and each is a part that does not make up the sum of the whole.
Just to be self-centred for a moment, I’m referring to the many Judith Whites, writers various and variable, who are not me but who Amazon, Goodreads, Google etc suggest are me, with different images of my books that are not my books, and photos of me that are not me, alongside authentic references to my own work.
So not to be self scented, while we’re mentioning roses, I have to make it clear that I did not write ‘Aromatherapy for Scentual Awareness’, nor any other treatises on aromatherapy. Nor an English phrase book for Hispanic children. Nor ‘The Case File of Sam Flanagan’. I haven’t translated books on fascism and dictatorship, nor any history of gold and money, or studies in ideaology and society, as interesting they may be. If only I were so prolific.
I’m trying not to regret having relinquished the mysteriously and evocatively juxtaposition of floaty versus weighty name of ‘Featherstone’ when I said ‘I do’ to the man of my dreams all those years ago. Along with ‘I do’ was also the assumption that ‘I would’ take on the irrefutably bland surname of White. I did hesitate, I have to admit, but I’m not one to ruffle feathers without good reason, and back then …
… In the meantime, the festivals. Going West and the Whanganui Literary Festivals have been and gone. Wonderful fodder and a good chance to observe others on stage and their modus operandi. The old experienced ones leaning back on their chairs with one hand waving free; or supping wine and chortling as they shared memories on stage, as if the whole thing was a gas. The seemingly confident and articulate ones who gave themselves away as their blanched fingers trembled from an unknown wind; and then the nervous upright ones talking a hundred miles an hour; the diplomat – easy and generous and open; the comfortably laconic and true comedian; the wired strutter, with wireless microphone, weaving his yarn in and out and around comments and questions from the audience as he paced.
These were all writers or cartoonists exposing themselves in the ring, before stepping back into the warm dressing gowns that waited, opened and ready; before they fled or ambled into their respective garrets where, once again, they had to dive into the solitary isolation of the working self.
And now, Xanthe and I are looking forward to the Words on a Small Island festival – on Waiheke Island next weekend. A celebration of books and writing, photographers and songs, wining and lunching, and not to forget the launching of the Waiheke Writing Group’s book of poetry.