JENNI MURRAY: How strange that Carrie chose to be Mrs. Johnson?

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Well, someone’s been busy in Downing Street and the prime suspect is Larry, Chief Mouser in the Prime Minister’s service. He seems to have upped his game, as there is no evidence that a chatty rat leaked the big secret.

It cannot be called a shotgun wedding, as the child was born some time ago, but, my goodness, it was certainly a surprise.

So why the rush, and why did the former Mrs. Carrie Symonds, unusual for a modern young woman, take the plunge to style herself Mrs. Carrie Johnson, taking her husband’s name? As a PR supremo, the career-minded Carrie must have her reasons for opting for a rebrand. It sure is a yah boo sucks for Dominic Cummings, who recently made a lot of refusing to name her Boris’ fiancée, insisting she was just a friend. Not anymore, Dominic. She is a wife and declares her status as the official First Lady for the whole world.

Jenni Murray wonders why the former Mrs. Carrie Symonds took her husband’s name. Pictured: Prime Minister Boris Johnson with his wife Carrie Johnson in the garden of 10 Downing Street after their wedding at Westminster Cathedral

The timing of the ceremony is interesting. In just over a week, Ms. Johnson will make her first official engagement on the world stage. She will care for the husbands of the G7 leaders who will meet in Cornwall, show them around the county and host a dinner with her current husband.

Perhaps Mrs. Symonds thought it would not be quite appropriate for a couple “living in sin” to gain favor with the wives of other world leaders who all seem to have shared their husbands’ names.

Most notably, US President Joe Biden will be visiting the UK for the first time with Ms. Jill Biden. The Bidens are known for being religious, so the two couples will now share their experience of Roman Catholic wedding ceremonies. I suspect the Johnsons felt an air of respectability would serve them well.

Among those in attendance who will fall under Carrie’s wing, only Joachim Sauer, the husband of Germany’s Angela Merkel, does not share a surname with his wife. Angela Merkel, whose maiden name was Kasner, must have been the victim of name erasure as a young woman in much the same way as I did. She married Ulrich Merkel in 1977. The marriage didn’t last, but by then she was known professionally as Merkel and had a name that wasn’t really hers.

Jenni (pictured) chose the hyphenation method when she married for the second time because she wanted her children to share their names

Jenni (pictured) chose the hyphenation method when she married for the second time because she wanted her children to share their names

I too took the name of my first husband, Murray, in the 1970s – I was 21 and that was to be expected – and I’ve regretted it ever since.

Bailey was my name and my parents, over the years, hated to hear me introduce myself as Jenni Murray and not Jennifer Bailey. My mother always longed for me to present Woman’s Hour under my own name. But I had started my career as Murray and hated to erase the name I had made for myself in broadcasting.

Of course, Carrie is also a mom and she may want her family to share the same name, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you should ditch yours. There are ways to get around the difficulties faced by so many women who do not want to submit to the patriarchal assumption that marriage confers property on the male partner.

When I got married for the second time and wanted our children to share our names, we chose the hyphen method. I kept Murray professional and for the family I joined my husband’s name, Forgham, with my Bailey. It’s a bit impractical, but at least my own name hadn’t been lost.

Jenni, who took the name of her first husband, Murray, in the 1970s, hopes Carrie won't regret her decision.  Pictured: Boris Johnson and Carrie on their wedding day

Jenni, who took the name of her first husband, Murray, in the 1970s, hopes Carrie won’t regret her decision. Pictured: Boris Johnson and Carrie on their wedding day

I hope Carrie won’t regret her decision. Professionally she was successful as Symonds and there is precedent for keeping your work and your wife’s titles separate at number 10. Cherie Blair had two names: Cherie Blair for family and Cherie Booth professional.

I’m lucky because small dogs like my Chihuahuas can live to be 18 while larger dogs like Labradors tend to live to be 12. Now researchers have found that restricting calories for Labradors can extend their lives by two years. Good luck! Labradors are constantly hungry. But my Butch, on his way to 16, is on a diet.

We could very well ask ‘What’s in a name?’ – but I know, as I suspect Angela Merkel does, it can be hard to lose your maiden name. And marriages don’t always last.

For older generations, it was de rigueur for you to take his name, and in other ways this wedding had echoes of the past. The simple hired frock, which cost just £45, the flower power headdress, the bare feet all seemed to channel Woodstock’s 1969 hippie culture.

Has this famously rambunctious couple started a trend that will please parents who are expected to pay for their offspring’s marriage? Keep it simple, keep it cheap, keep the numbers low. I hear the sighs of relief over the land.

Don’t mind the mask – cover the dress, Davina

Jenni said she's not getting the fashion for huge shoulders and puffy sleeves, echoing Davina McCall's (pictured) dress worn for The Masked Dancer

Jenni said she’s not getting the fashion for huge shoulders and puffy sleeves, echoing Davina McCall’s (pictured) dress worn for The Masked Dancer

Oh come on, Davina McCall! You are a beautiful middle aged woman who works very hard to stay slim and fit.

So, what’s up with that awful dress you wore for The Masked Dancer?

I don’t get the fashion for huge shoulders and puffy sleeves. Why train at the gym and then wear a dress that would fit a muscular prize fighter?

Moving plot about Down is a good call

I’m so sorry to see the end of the current Call The Midwife series. I’ve been a No. 1 fan since it started nine years ago, sometimes annoyed by overly sentimental language and sloppy acting, but always in awe of the plots, which will have had far more impact on audiences than any well-intentioned campaign.

The last episode told the story of two sisters. The eldest had brought her children into the world with ease. The youngster had tried and tried, but failed to conceive. The older sister agreed to be a surrogate for her, but the baby was found to have Down syndrome. The one who was meant to be the mother rejected the baby, but his biological mother fell in love with him.

The father, concerned about his son’s life, was introduced to Reggie, the loving and perfectly capable young man with Down syndrome who lives with the Buckles who own the shop.

I have a beloved cousin who has Down. I’m always happy to see that the situation is anything but a disaster.

Jenni said Holly Ramsay was brave to reveal she spent three months in the hospital after being sexually assaulted twice.  Pictured: Holly with her father Gordon Ramsay

Jenni said Holly Ramsay was brave to reveal she spent three months in the hospital after being sexually assaulted twice. Pictured: Holly with her father Gordon Ramsay

Right of evidence is not protection

How brave of Holly Ramsay, the daughter of Chef Gordon, to reveal that she spent three months in hospital trying to cope with post-traumatic stress disorder after being sexually assaulted twice when she was 18.

She was now 21 and had spent a year trying to keep her suffering to herself, but when she finally spoke to her family about her anxiety and depression, they couldn’t be more supportive. Her story shows that no one, however privileged, is protected from sexual violence and the terrible consequences it can have.

It also shows how important a good father, even one known for his warm temperament and fruity language, can be in helping his daughter heal.

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