Last name: Nigel.
Age: Found in archives dating back to the Middle Ages.
Appearance: Of fleeting rarity.
It sounds worrying. I’m pretty scared. I come to bring bad news. Nigel is about to disappear.
Oh no, not Nigel. Unfortunately yes. According to the Office for National Statistics, no children have been named Nigel in 2020. In fact, only 28 Nigels have been born in the UK since 2015.
I wonder why. Yeah, I can’t think of someone who came to prominence in the middle of the last decade named Nigel who was objectively repulsive enough to kill the popularity of a whole name.
Don’t be political. Oh good. Anyway, long story short, the Nigels are critically endangered.
Well, we have to do something! Don’t worry: someone is already on it.
Who? Nigel Smith, owner of the Fleece Inn in Worcestershire. He just organized something called Nige-fest to mobilize support for this dying name.
Niger fest. Yes, and don’t make fun of it, because it was a wild success: 372 Nigels showed up for the occasion. For reference, that’s more Nigels than those born in the UK since 1998.
That’s a lot of old Nigels. And foreign Nigels too, don’t forget. Nige-fest has drawn Nigels from as far away as the United States, Nicaragua, Zimbabwe and Spain. There was also a dog named Nigel, but he probably doesn’t count.
So what did all those Nigels do? It’s easy. They were entertained by various Nigels: comedians, musicians, buskers and DJs. They also signed the Book of Nigel, which is basically a book with the word “Nigel” written 372 times.
Will the Nige-fest revive Nigel’s popularity? Probably not. People are about as likely to call a child Nigel because of a semi-ironic rural pub fest as because of a nightmarish right-wing demagogue.
I said don’t play politics. You are a spoilsport.
So is Nigel dead forever? Not at all. All names fluctuate in popularity. Nigel was a very unpopular name for centuries, until Walter Scott revived it with his 1822 novel The Fortunes of Nigel. All it takes is a popular book, movie, musician, or TikToker, and Nigel will come roaring back.
It could happen again! And everyone knows that nothing is more popular with parents than an extinct name. Give it 10 years in the desert and you’ll see dozens of little Nigels running around, all with atrocious hipster parents.
But at what cost ? This will probably mean a lot less kids called Oscar, which must be a good thing. We are reaching epidemic levels there.
Say: “Bring Nigel back.”
Do not tell : “And then bring Boris back.”