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To be or not to be...#Shakespeare

Updated: Apr 30, 2023

Seven weeks into the broken back stint...

Games of solitaire played...well over a thousand.

Programs on Netflix watched...all of them.

Episodes of Silent Witness watched...up to series 14, episode 9 part 1.

Amount of shopping websites visited...too many to mention.

University Fee fund remaining after visiting said shopping websites...not much.

Arty endeavours tried...a couple.

Essay written...a third.

Research into motivational quotations...tons and tons and tons.

Chocolate eaten...I should have bought shares in Cadbury's.

Wonderful telephone conversations with old friends who I had lost touch with...Lots and lots and lots.

An arty gift from a friend

Which ended up being my version of the Venus of Willendorf...

It was because of one of these phone calls and the wake up and smell the roses comment of 'OMG! you sound like the 'old you' again. I feel like crying, I thought you were gone forever...', I started thinking that maybe I should not only welcome back and embrace my personality pre marriage but go full native and claim back my maiden name too.

Little side story here, imagine me talking straight to camera whilst everyone runs around in the background pretending that they can't see what I am doing...I have heard through friends who have adopted children that the one thing you should absolutely not do is re-name the child. Their christian name is the one thing that belongs to them and to take it away and replace it with another is potentially very damaging. I think that is food for thought...

On getting engaged, I was loathe to give up my maiden name which is weird considering how much I had hated having to spell it out each and every time I was asked for it.

"Is that spelt B...A...R...R...I...K Ward?"

"No..." Sigh..."Its B...A...R...W...I...C...K...hyphon Ward, pronounced Barrick though"

"Ohhh, not pronounced Bar-Wick"

"No"...Sigh..."Pronounced Barrick"

"Strange! I would have thought it was Bar-Wick"

Sigh..."Well it's not"



As strange as it may seem, due to the difficulties of pronunciation I had always faced, I thought that maybe, upon getting Wed, my husband and I could join our surnames and become more of a "merging", but his parents, being very traditional, would not have approved. So I, like many brides, took on the surname of my husband and became someone else.

I have no complaints about giving up my maiden name. It is part and parcel of giving yourself to someone that you love and I am not a women who thinks God is a she and for a man to open a door for a woman, or pull out a chair or give up his seat on a bus is a heinous crime. However, if a man no longer wants to be married to his wife, why then should the said wife still belong to him in name?

Last August (I think...time seems to meld into blur instead of clarity) I went to a thirty year school reunion. I was very nervous about going, got lost on the way because paying attention to thoughts such as 'will they recognise me?' 'Will they like me?' 'why didn't I lose weight before' 'What have I done with my life that they will find at all interesting'...You know the sort of stuff, were far more worrying than the direction I was meant to be going in.

When I eventually found the pub I was looking for, all my negative thoughts about myself disappeared as quickly as frost melts in the sun. I was grabbed, hugged, squeezed and generally hauled into the welcoming bosoms of 30 or so fellow North Forelanders. It was incredible and the thirty years since we left school just disappeared.

I had lived with these girls from the age of 11 to 18. We knew each other inside out and nothing had changed at all. They all knew the real me. The person I used to be and I remembered who I was too. I was the food fighting, rebellious, midnight feasting, funny, overly affectionate, messy clown who kept guinea pigs in a drawer because it was too cold in the animal shed and terapins in the bathroom that I had snuck back from the local garden centre.

I was the person who was always noisy after lights out and the person who had water fights in the middle of the night. And we were all the people who had scored points in tennis lessons by aiming our serves at our teachers testicles...(sadly, he later died of testicular cancer...) and because of those wonderful girls who I grew up with, who knew me so well and accepted me unconditionally for who I was, (and although buried deep inside, still am) I found myself bouncing on chairs whilst drinking copious amounts of wine, trying to take photos and gathering telephone numbers so a WhatsApp group could be formed.

One of the reasons I am telling you of this marvellous event is that my nickname at school was different from my nickname at home. There were four Annabels in my year and bizarely all of us ended up being called a variation of our surnames. My classmates and indeed the whole school called me Barwick (pronounced Barrick, lest you forget...) for the sum total of eight years.

The power of a name. The power of becoming oneself again after a long hiatus. The bravery needed in order to embrace that power and run with it....and remembering anything is possible with the friends, be it home or school, new or old, there to support you...

As with all these things, one should start at the beginning. A sort of history lesson of where I come from and where I belong now. Obviously, I am half my mother and half my father. As tradition dictates, my mother took my fathers‘ name when she married him and I have to say that I do not know a great deal about my fathers‘ side of my family. Lying in bed with a broken back and procrastinating about doing my essay is a fine place to start on researching my family history, and actually, far more interesting!

Part of my maiden name (the annoyingly difficult to spell and pronounce part) was given to my father by his step-father. Sir Richard Barwick was my paternal grandmothers second husband. He decided to give his name to my father but also keep my fathers orignal name which was Ward, hence Barwick-Ward.

But it is the Ward part that I am interested in. One of my fathers Grandparents was The Earl of Dudley. When one looks into the history of the Dudley Wards it is fascinating. It stretches all the way back to Henry VII, with infinite stories inbetween. There were monumental houses, actresses, forays into the era of White Mischief, boarding school at the age of 4, Rolls Royces, Coats of Arms, name it.

I have a signet ring, with that very crest engraved on it, that I was given for my 18th birthday, and I have always adored it. The engraving shows a lions head coming out of a crown. It is my birthright and I have never taken it off. It is one of the things that reminded me all my married life that the pre-marriage me is still there. I have my own history, my own story and although removed, albeit willingly, my own name.

Although I can do all the research I want, because I am still married I cannot change my name back to my maiden name without asking permission from my husband. BUT once divorced, I can do whatever I like. So, in the name of 're-claiming rebellion' as soon as the divorce is final and I do not need to ask anyone's permission, ever again, I am going to be brave and change my name back.

I choose to embrace the positive. Embrace the future and Embrace ME!!!!!

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Dearest Annabel, as I have always known you. I tried to contact you recently, not sure if you have changed your number. I read you first blog with distress and such sympathy about your accident and split from Simon. So sorry to hear all this news. Loved your blog about your amazingly fabulous grandmother, such a wonderful lady, and now this, brilliant xx life is so hard but you are an amazingly strong person. I am thinking of you so much, sending you lots of positive wishes and get well soon. I would love to catch up, so much to catch up on xx I will be visiting my Dad in staveley more often soon. Take care of yourself, the…

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