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JENNI MURRAY: How odd for Carrie to choose to be Mrs Johnson 

Well, someone’s been busy in Downing Street and the primary suspect is Larry, chief mouser in the employ of the Prime Minister. He appears to have upped his game as there’s been no evidence of a chatty rat leaking the big secret.

It can’t be dubbed 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 has the former Ms Carrie Symonds, unusually for a modern young woman, leapt to style herself Mrs Carrie Johnson, taking her husband’s name? As a PR supremo, career-minded Carrie must have her reasons for choosing to rebrand. It’s certainly a yah boo sucks to Dominic Cummings who recently made much of refusing to call her Boris’s fiancée, insisting that she was merely a girlfriend. No longer, Dominic. She’s a wife, declaring her status as the official First Lady for all the world to see.

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

The timing of the ceremony is interesting. In just over a week, Mrs Johnson will take on her first official engagement on the world stage. She will take care of the spouses of the G7 leaders who will meet in Cornwall, showing them around the county and hosting a dinner together with her now husband.

Perhaps Ms Symonds thought it would not be entirely proper for a couple ‘living in sin’ to curry favour with the wives of other world leaders who all seem to have shared the names of their husbands.

Most prominently, the American President, Joe Biden, will visit the UK for the first time together with Mrs Jill Biden. The Bidens are known to be 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 the attendees who will be 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 suffered name erasure in much the way I did as a young woman. She married Ulrich Merkel in 1977. The marriage didn’t last, but she was, by then, known professionally as Merkel and was stuck with a name that really wasn’t hers.

Jenni (pictured) opted for the hyphen method when she got married a second time, as she wanted her children to share their names

Jenni (pictured) opted for the hyphen method when she got married a second time, as she wanted her children to share their names 

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

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

Of course, Carrie is a mother too, and may want her family to share the same name, but that doesn’t necessarily mean ditching your own. There are ways of getting round the difficulties faced by so many women who have no desire to submit to the patriarchal assumption that marriage confers ownership on the male partner.

When I married a second time and wanted our children to share our names we opted for the hyphen method. I kept Murray professionally, and, for the family, I joined my husband’s name, Forgham, with my Bailey. It’s a bit unwieldy, but at least my own name wasn’t lost and gone.

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

Jenni who took her first husband’s name, 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 a precedent for keeping your work and your wife titles separate at No 10. Cherie Blair had two names — Cherie Blair for family and Cherie Booth professionally.

I’m lucky because small dogs, like my chihuahuas, can live to 18, while bigger dogs such as Labradors tend to live to 12. Now, researchers have found restricting calories for Labradors can increase their life by two years. Good luck! Labradors are perpetually hungry. But my Butch, heading for 16, is on a diet. 

We might well ask ‘What’s in a name?’ — but I know, as I suspect Angela Merkel does, that losing your maiden name can be difficult. And marriages don’t always last.

For older generations it was de rigueur that you took his name, and in other ways, this wedding had echoes of the past. The simple hired frock, costing only £45, the flower-power headdress, the bare feet all seemed to be channelling the hippy culture of Woodstock in 1969.

Has this famously impecunious couple started a trend that will delight parents expected to pay for their offspring’s nuptials? Keep it simple, keep it cheap, keep the numbers down. I can hear the sighs of relief across the land.

Never mind the mask — cover up the dress, Davina

Jenni said she does not get the fashion for huge shoulders and puffed-out sleeves, following Davina McCall's (pictured) dress worn for The Masked Dancer

Jenni said she does not get the fashion for huge shoulders and puffed-out sleeves, following Davina McCall’s (pictured) dress worn for The Masked Dancer 

Oh come on, Davina McCall! You’re a gorgeous, middle-aged woman who works very hard at keeping slim and fit.

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

I do not get the fashion for huge shoulders and puffed-out sleeves. Why work out in the gym and then wear a frock that would fit a muscled prize-fighter?

Moving plot about Down’s a good Call

So sorry to see the end of the current series of Call The Midwife. I’ve been a No 1 fan since it began nine years ago, sometimes irritated at excessively sentimental language and sloppy acting, but always impressed by the plots, which will have had far more impact on the audience than any well-intentioned campaign.

The last episode told the story of two sisters. The older one had produced her children with ease. The younger 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’s syndrome. The one intended to be the mother rejected the baby, but his birth mother fell in love with him.

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

I have a much-loved cousin who has Down’s. I’m always delighted to see the condition portrayed as being anything but a disaster.

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

Proof privilege is no protection 

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

Now 21, she had tried to keep her suffering to herself for a year but, when she finally spoke about her anxiety and depression to her family, they could not have been more supportive. Hers is a story that demonstrates that no one, no matter how 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 hot temperament and fruity language, can be in helping his daughter heal.


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