Waltzing to my Matilda

I TAKE it all back!

Last week I was faced with a new granddaughter whose name was to be Kiki or Chilly; or Chile; or Chilli (they never did let on how they were going to spell it).

I had braced myself. I kept reminding myself that when a baby is six weeks premature it’s no surprise that the name’s not ready.

I was relieved, because if she had arrived on time — at the end of May — they might actually have had one of these names carved in bits of furniture, and indelibly laminated on plastic bowls or little mugs.

Instead, while they were tossing coins and thinking up other, more malicious jokes they could play on this small, defenceless scrap of humanity, I played subliminal mind games.

Suzie Q on the CD player. Rolling Stones song.

“Suzie is a nice name,” I said. “A lovely name. Susan. Sue for short.”

“What? What! Dad… it’s old. No one under 50 is called Susan any more.”

“Well I like it. What about Elis–”


“But no one — no matter what their age — is called Kiki. Not unless they’re a… a panda!”

“Anyway, we might’ve changed our mind.”


There are times when it’s best to cut your losses. Kiki might not be so bad. I could privately call her K and pretend it was Kay, and hope no one noticed.

I mean, if two people can come up with Kiki – anything could happen when they change their minds.

There’s already a Heavenly Hirani Tiger Lilly, thank God, or I might have to go to the courts; but there’s plenty more child cruelty out there in the shape of 21st century children’s names.

“We thought maybe…”

“Yes… yes…?”

“We quite like…”

“Yes… go on….”

“Silly really…”

“For Heaven’s sake tell me, or I’ll make her an orphan!!!”


“Oh God! Oh God? … pardon?”


“What? You mean… as in Waltzing?”


“Same spelling? In English?”


Matilda? Matilda!

I want to sing! And to dance!A waltz would be perfect! I have a granddaughter called Matilda. As in the real Australian national anthem. As in the work of my favourite poet – Banjo Paterson!

If you ever had any doubt whether I — an ex-Pom and naturalised Australian — belonged here or there… well chuck ’em on the barbie, cobber! I have arrived! Mate!

I have a granddaughter called Matilda! I’ve been singing it in the car, and in the shower, and in the office.

Well you can, can’t you? I’d like to have seen Michael Hutchence put Heavenly Hirani Tiger Lilly to music. Or even Kiki.

They’ll probably call her Tilly for short, unless they’re cross with her. But who cares! I shall call her Matilda, and if some smart alec tries to make jokes about jumbucks or billabongs, I’ll sue.

Or possibly Sue. As a second name, maybe. Because I like it.