In the name of Doris

DorisCharacter building

Being called Doris is a character building exercise. People with certain names will understand. If you were catapulted into the world named Richard Nobb or Peter Ennis you know what I’m talking about.


Growing up in Vienna I had no idea of what was to come. In Germanic countries ‘Doris’ is akin to Susan or Jane. It’s just a name. No biggie.

Dodos and monsters

As soon as I arrived in England and shoved into a boarding school aged 12, I realised that something was amiss. I was extremely perplexed when a gaggle of kids kept shouting ‘Dooooriiisss’ and then showing me their socks before running away. On enquiring, I discovered that this was due to a programme called ‘Why Don’t You’ which contained an invisible monster called Doris, which would eat you unless you were wearing stripy socks.

This, alas, was the tip of the iceberg. The only other Dori on TV, apart from the odd rerun of Calamity Jane, was a green faced witch and a dodo. I had gone from normal to uncool overnight.

In London, where I lived in school breaks, I encountered a further indignity. The phrase ‘she’s a right Doris’ can be interchanged with the word ‘boiler’. I started preparing myself for the inevitable snigger during introductions.

Changing names

Ideally I should have changed my name when I changed countries. That would have saved a lot of trouble. But of course it took a while for me to realise the depth of the problem, and by the time I had, too many people already knew my name. I started performing at 12 and have always been surprisingly memorable, so changing one’s name in retrospect makes the situation worse. I would be forever ‘formerly known as Doris’. So Doris it remained.

In the 90s I did a run of shows with an acoustic combo rebelliously called ‘Doris’. This was when I still worked with Pete Brown and Sam Brown was one of my a cappella singers for a while. I recall receiving a letter from a manager demanding that I change the name of my ‘band’ immediately, as his band had been called ‘Doris’ for 3 years and was copyrighted. It never occurred to him that the name could be anything other than tongue in cheek. I wrote back to inform him that I had been called Doris for twenty-something years and that perhaps his band could change their name to ‘John’.

Auntie Doris

Some names cycle back into fashion after a period of time. Albert had a brief resurgence. Mine didn’t. In fact, it’s marginally less cool than it was 30 years ago. I listen to the radio avidly, and it has been with great consternation, that some of my favourite presenters regularly make reference to ‘your Auntie Doris’ denoting your average old bigot. It makes my shoulders cramp every time I hear it.

Rather than wearing my name with pride, I wear it with defiance. Laugh at me at your peril. If you laugh in my face I will mark you as a knobhead. And on your head be it.


  • Thomas Geller says:

    Jo, küss die Haaand, gnä Fraauu 🙂

    Doris is lovely. The name and the woman. Period. Me no going into more details, since wifey is sitting next to me on the sofa. Knitting striped socks (LOL)

    Best wishes again from good old Germany

  • Ulrike says:

    Für mich ist Doris ein ganz normaler Name. Meine Mutter heißt Doris. Ich bin in Graz aufgewachsen, in der Nibelungengasse. Bei den Nachbarn, einem alten Ehepaar, kam manchmal die Enkelin, auch eine Doris, zu Besuch und wir spielten zusammen. Dass diese Doris eine so großartige Künstlerin geworden ist, finde ich toll!
    Best wishes Ulrike

  • George Ellison says:

    Nowt wrong with the name Doris it makes a pleasant change from some of the stupid names kids at called these days

    Rock On you’re great as you are

  • Great post re: your first name, “Doris!” I learned so much from your letter! In the States, Doris is a “normal” name with no attachments other than the lovely sound of the name. “Doris” used to be a more common name than it is now, in an age of so many GenX females named,”Crystal” !! Over here your name is probably considered “old fashioned,” which means it is back in style! Names such as Annabella and Mildred are on the upswing. My “real” name, Rebecca, came back into vogue 30 years ago or so and of course, I suddenly regretted asking my school friends and teachers back in the 69s and 70s to call me, Becky (Beki) .. Too late! .

    Keep up the good fight, Doris. Your name is lovely and rocking!

  • Michael McManus says:

    Nothing wrong with your name at all Doris. Keep making great music.

  • Doc says:

    No, you’re fine. You’re our Steampunk Doris. Doris has no negatives in Steampunk, no name has. I agree, wear your name in defiance of the idiots who may scoff.

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