I’VE SOMETIMES FELT ENVIOUS of people who have important-sounding names … names that have meaning … names that imply ‘somebody’ instead of just ‘anybody’. And while the name ‘Cooney’ has served me well for more than half-a-century, it’s never really helped me stand out from the crowd. But all that is about to change …
Last week, on a random spur-of-the-moment, I Googled the word ‘Cooney’. And guess what I discovered? My surname, it seems, is derived from an old Gaelic word meaning ‘little wolf’. Which immediately rang all sorts of bells.
‘Little Wolf’ – yes, I like that, I really do. And if it’s all right with you, I’m gonna try it for a while. I think the world might respect me more, and this could be the beginning of greatness.
The truth is, of course, I didn’t choose my name. I wasn’t given a list to look through. Nobody asked me if I would rather be Ramsbottom or Fogglesworth, Bracegirdle or Knutt. That decision was made for me. And, come to think about it, most decisions were …
I didn’t choose my ancestors. Those long-distant immigrants weren’t thinking of me when they saved up their pennies, hitched up their skirts, climbed onto leaky boats and sailed across the Pacific. They didn’t ask me if I wanted to be their great-great-grandson and carry on the family name. But I am … and I have … and I trust I’ve done them proud.
I didn’t choose my parents. No one asked me if I’d prefer a policeman or a poultry farmer instead of an accountant for a dad … a fashion-queen or an opera-singer instead of a shoe-shop-lady for a mum. I didn’t get to vote on whether I had two sisters or 10, twin brothers or none. I mean, think of the possibilities! I might have been an only child, sole heir to the throne, and inheritor of the family fortune! Except I wasn’t – and there isn’t.
I didn’t choose to be a post-war baby. I didn’t put a ring around 1948 and say, “Keep that year free!” If the decision had been left to me, I might have picked 1861 or 1357. But it wasn’t. And I didn’t. Which is why I’m only 65 today – not 152 or 656.
I didn’t plan my conception. I didn’t even ask to be born. But I’m very glad I was, because you have to be born to be glad, eh!
I didn’t choose to grow up in this age of emails and websites, space shuttles and laser beams. I could’ve just as easily grown up in the Victorian Era, the Industrial Revolution, or the Ice Age – or been a Viking, a medieval monk, or a Neanderthal Man. And I guess it wouldn’t have bothered me. But I’m glad things worked out the way they did, because I’m kind-of fond of the 21st century.
I didn’t choose to be ‘he’ instead of ‘she’ … pink instead of brown … short instead of tall – it just happened. I didn’t select my hairy legs, or my hairless chest, or the mole on my chin, or my feet. I just got them – automatically – along with all the other bits which, over the years, I’ve become rather attached to.
I didn’t choose to be ME. It’s not my fault. My opinion wasn’t asked. I could have been you, or the next bloke, or a billion other people. But I’m not. Yes: given the chance I might’ve made a few improvements. But no: I’m not about to complain. You see, me is who I is, and me is who I’ll always be.
Just call me ‘Little Wolf’ from now on – okay?
JOHN (GRAPEVINE’S FOUNDER & BIG CHEESE) IS THE PROUD PART-OWNER OF 12 HEALTHY GRANDKIDS – SO THE COONEY NAME AND DYNASTY IS SAFE FOR THE TIME BEING.