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In Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, Juliet famously attempts to downplay the significance of Romeo’s surname by declaring, ‘What’s in a name? That which is called a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.’ Now, we all know how that story ends, and that – unfortunately for the protagonists – Juliet’s youthful optimism in overcoming unjust preconceptions turns out to be misplaced. But we also know that her statement was quite simply wrong – there’s actually a whole lot in a name. For a start, it gives away our gender. It might give a clue as to our age. And often, it discloses additional information about us; for instance, whether we’re British or foreign-born, which ethnic group we belong to, and even the social class we spring from. We may prefer not to disclose some of this information in case it (subconsciously, at least) influences someone’s decision to employ us, but that’s not usually an option – our name quite simply gives it away.


Anyone trying to make an early dash out of the city for the Bank Holiday weekend might have been hampered by a small group of disabled people and pensioners protesting against government spending cuts last week.  A group of eight held up traffic on Oxford Street for an hour – two protesters in wheelchairs handcuffed themselves to the back of a double-decker bus and a 76-year-old pensioner chained himself to its doors. This very public display of opposition to cuts is accompanied by less widely reported action in the courts. More

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