Dear Prudence . . .

“What’s in a name? That which we call a rose

By any other name would smell as sweet.”

So said Juliet in Shakespeare’s tragic romance.  And Anne of Green Gables followed up with:

‘I read in a book once that a rose by any other name would smell as sweet, but I’ve never been able to believe it.  I don’t believe a rose would be as nice if it was called a thistle or a skunk cabbage.’

So there we are.  I am named Prudence, but even if I was called Anne with an E or Cordelia or even Lolly or Ruby or Sunday, it would appear I should still carry all the hallmarks of a prudent person.

There is of course, one problem and one my parents didn’t foresee when they named me.  I am not a prudent person.  At all.  Given to illogical and odd behaviour, jumping off the deep end when I should really check the depth first.

According to the most basic description of the word as provided by Wikipedia, Prudence is when ‘one exercises sound judgement in practical affairs.  It is classically considered to be a virtue, and in particular one of the four Cardinal virtues (which are part of the seven virtues).’

In addition, there are several integral parts that make up Prudence (Of course.  That’d be right.  Why couldn’t there just be one or two?  It would have to be a confounded jigsaw)

1. Memoria — Accurate memory, that is, memory that is true to reality.  Gad, I’m a fantasy fiction writer.  What’s true to reality about that?

2. Intelligentia– I suppose there is a moderate degree in the grey matter somewhere.

3. Docilitas— Docile?  Never!

4. Quick wittedness — sizing up a situation on one’s own quickly.  Hmm!

5. Discursive reasoning– Yeah right!

6. Foresight (Providentia) — None!  But a great deal of hindsight!  Does that count?

Bit of a disaster really.  Although there are a couple of things that my name can hang its hat on.  The Beatles wrote Dear Prudence and Doug Parkinson sings it wonderfully.

And whilst trawling through Wikimedia Commons trying to find just one nice image of Prudence and not some bloated allegory of a woman in robes surrounded by little cupids, I discovered Deborah Kerr in Prudence and the Pill. That’s so much better.  Mind you, as a university student in the 70’s, I suffered no end of teasing about that movie and the boys all used to sit on the steps of the Law building and break into the Beatles song as I walked past, singing just the first line: ‘Dear Prudence, won’t you come out to play?’ to which my cheeks would flush scarlet.

I often wonder – if I’d had my druthers at birth, what would I have liked to be called?  Only three names spring to mind: Clare, Anna and Isabel.  All of which sound wonderfully happy and light and as if they could be people with whom I should love to be friends.  Prudence however, sounds dour, heavy and infinitely boring.