I’ve spent most of my life saying “That’s Ridgway without an ‘e'” over and over like a stuck record. Let me tell you, it’s boring and irritating. In fact, I had to do it twice today whilst making appointments over the phone. That extraneous “e” which everyone seems desperate to add in to my surname ranges from mildly annoying (misfiled medical or vet records due to name spelt wrong) to disastrous (refused boarding at the airline gate because the name on my ticket doesn’t exactly match that in my passport). If you are a Smythe, Troman, Greene or a variety of Eliott then you will feel my pain. When a receptionist announces they can’t find a record of me, I know instantly what’s happened. Yes, someone has stuck in that unwanted “e”.
Originating in the North-West of England, there are a fair few of us Ridgways; there’s even a sprinkling in the town where I was born, to whom I am not related. Presumably we all share the same difficulty of constantly having our name misspelt everywhere. My mother has gone for the double whammy because nobody can spell her first name either.
Yet there has been ample opportunity for me to change my surname when I married, both times to men whose surnames were very common, ergo very easy to spell. I also considered a variety of surnames when choosing a pen name and my first ebook was published anonymously. But ultimately I just couldn’t bring myself to ditch the Ridgway. We’ve been through a lot together, my surname and I, and the feminist in me railed against changing my name to my husbands’ – it seems akin to losing one’s identity. I did hyphenate for a while with my married name but of course that didn’t make any difference to the “e” being shoved in at every opportunity. My husband gets called “Mr Ridg(e)way” quite a bit too.
So Ridgway I was born, Ridgway I will die. I like my surname because, like its owner, it is different, unexpected and just a little awkward. And we all need a USP. Just don’t put in that “e”!