My birth certificate names me as Pauline Barbara Pogorelske (my parents had no imagination), but beyond this vital piece of information oft needed as verification of my ‘identity’, a plethora of other names have been ascribed to me. Indeed, at just 10 years of age, I thought Pauline with an ‘i’ looked boring, even prosaic, changing it at school to Paulyne with a ‘y’ which seemed more interesting, such was my pretentious affectation. I also played around with Paule and Paula, shortening my surname to Relske; albeit privately in my diary. These other names didn’t last long; but Paulyne with a ‘y’ has stayed with me since then. In high school, even teachers started writing “Paulyne’ in my report book as I wrote it that way on my assignments, tests and exams. As a journalist, I’ve maintained that spelling all my life. Legally, I have never bothered to change it; and my tax and bank accounts et al record me as Pauline. Does it matter one iota? Friends adopted the abbreviated ‘Paul’ over the years; an ex-boyfriend ‘warming’ it to Paulie; indeed, calling me Pauline/Paulyne, however it’s spelt, has always seemed too formal and cold; even distant to me. My Polish mother occasionally called me ‘Polinka’ while in Spain where I lived, people called me Paulina. The ancient adage that ‘sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never hurt me’ seems suitably apt. Of course, there have been appealing, and awful appellations over my life; including ‘nicknames’ popularised by Pogorelske; these being Pog, Poggy, Poggles with goggles (I wore glasses as a seven-year-old and am still as blind as a bat), Mabel Poggy Woggy Dog (I was the daughter of migrants), Pogo (I bounced around a lot and the stick had just hit Oz shores), Piggy Pog (I always loved eating, tho’ wasn’t fat), Pigerelske and others I can’t recall. They always seemed affectionate; I was never offended or upset by these names. Over the years, some of the positive others, mostly at work, included The Perils of Pauline (I always lived dangerously), angel, sweetheart and darling, sweetie (which I loathe; an ex-boyfriend’s misplaced charm) and of course, love, dear and mate (I always approved of that one).At the ripe old age of 61, I first used Relske on a published article in a newspaper, and adhered to it for a few years when penning Letters to The Editor of various other newspapers. Just three years later, I resumed Pogorelske, oft ‘playing’ a game returning to Relske now and again depending on my sense of indifference about what’s in a name?
Of course, there have been many disparaging and degrading names applied to me: psycho, paranoid, persecuted, psychotic, (there are copious P words that ‘match’ my initials), Cathy/Kathy (‘stolen’ from my diary; I didn’t ask the psych nurse how she spelt it), and an array of Adolph (no doubt as in Hitler), Anna (after a book I read about a mentally ill woman called Anna), Monica, (another mentally ill in-patient in prison two years ago), along with Charmaine, (appro of the writer who committed suicide tragically) and Leah (a political prisoner in Siberia of the Russians) among others. I’ve also been castigated as a wench, prostitute, fucking whore, lunatic, mad (of course), violent, bad, too, but slut was undoubtedly said beyond earshot. Popular favourites include bitch, dyke (by symbolic means via a cigarette lighter,) even camp, a 70s word for lesbian, paranoid schizophrenic and bipolar. I’ve also been called a snob; tho’ the reasons for this remain less obvious to me. The list is endless. Do any of them mean anything; not much to me. Whatever you think; it’s up to whoever reads this.