What’s in a name?

 ‘That which we call a rose/ By any other name would smell as sweet’.

(From Shakespeare’s play, Romeo and Juliet.) 

When we are born, we are given a first name, a surname, and some may have one or more names in the middle of those two. As we grow up, going through the education system, it is our surname which dominates and is used to identify us. It would sound a bit silly being called by your surname at home. Everyone would answer at the same time. I’m the youngest of six, so shouting “Breakspear, phone!” would’ve brought a stampede my way.

I’ve had “ooh, you don’t look like a David” as well as, “you’re a typical David, you are.” Take David out, replace it with your own name, and no doubt, you’ve heard it yourself.

Name: A word, or words, that a person is known by.

Names are one thing, labels are another.

As the saying goes, ‘sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never hurt me.’

Labels can destroy you!

All the world’s a stage,

And all the men and women merely players,

They have their exits and their entrances.

And one man in his time plays many parts,

As You Like It, Act II, Scene VII. William Shakespeare (1564-1616)

It is so easy, especially with how fast and instant life is these days, to rely on pre-existing labels, or beliefs, to judge others as a group rather than see them as an individual.

One of those labels, and there’s many I could have chosen, is the label of criminal. Or prisoner, as the former will inevitably become the latter.

But what does a criminal/prisoner look like?

Then again, what does a victim look like?

And can one be both?

If you only read the Daily Mail, you can be forgiven for thinking our prisons only hold murderers, rapists, paedophiles, and terrorists. Yes! There are people in prison convicted of those crimes, but it’s only a fraction of a bigger story called, the criminal justice system.

So, please, if you take anything away from this blog, I would like it to be the understanding that we are all individuals.



One of us.   

Even people who commit crime.

Labels, however, are for clothes.


2 thoughts on “What’s in a name?

  1. Once again David I brush up my Breakspear. Every word is true. I think “lags” is making a comeback in the popular press too. So many people have been through prison and are ashamed of that, and never talk about it, yet it is part of their life and should not be a matter to hide. I have never hidden it which has allowed so many to tell me that they were inside too, for a variety of trivia but as you say some sections of the media imply everyone is a danger to society. Prison is where people are, not what they are, and I am pleased to see that at last a number of positive employers are recognising this too in recruitment. Keep fighting. (I know you will!!!)


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