The Great Name Change of 2016: It Is Done! Do I Get Two Birthdays?

2016-06-08 15.47.02

You know those days when you have everything planned out neatly and beautifully, then the universe steps in to totally fuck it up?

That, friends, was today.

It was supposed to be nice and calm. Get to starbucks, meet Paul, go to the bank to deposit £40 and make sure the cheque I’ve written to the Royal Courts of Justice doesn’t bounce, go to the bank next door and check a balance, hop on a bus to Tombland, find the solicitors, sign papers, drink a celebratory cider and have lunch.


I didn’t realise my main bank had ‘training days’ on Wednesday so we had to wait till half nine (the appointment at the solicitors was for 10). Then the machine in branch (which has form for disliking me for myriad reasons) swallowed my card and wouldn’t work in the pin machines. Then we had to wait get to the counter. By the time we caught the bus it was 9:40am and I was starting to worry. Of course, at the next bus stop, the drivers changed and another driver decided this was THE moment to replace some posters on the bus.


We got to Tombland with about eight minutes to spare … and got lost. Turns out the solicitor has two buildings, one in the Close (the picturesque legal cul de sac) and one in Tombland proper (which is all shops and restaurants). I thought the notary meant the former when he actually meant the latter, oh and there are two gates to the Cathedral and we went down the wrong one.

Fortunately I knew which building belonged to the solicitor so went in and the nice receptionist took us over. We’d never have found it, with guide dogs, on our own. None of the buildings are particularly well marked in terms of numbers and location, a hazard of being the oldest part of Norwich. We managed to get to the notary’s office with three minutes to spare but he was running late. I’ve never been so knackered or so thankful; it’s fine for him to be running late but totally not us.

To say the forms were straightforward, well it’s a blatant lie. There was tooing and froing and every time he had to disappear only confirmed doing this ‘officially’ was the right way. We had all the ID so at least that bit went smoothly and it became very real when Paul had to say a proper oath. Yep, legal stuff is fun. To be honest, I spent the whole time worrying I’d spelt my name wrong.

The whole thing took maybe half an hour, thought it cost more than I was expecting because of the complexity. I intentionally took more cash just incase (because lawyers) and came out of it with all the paperwork, an envelope to stuff it in and a certified copy. Then we hopped on another bus, hit the Post Office so I could get everything sent off (and buy stamps; I sense I’ll be needing them), realised it was 11:15 and went to grab lunch and a celebratory drink at the Wetherspoons right next door to the Mall.

I needed that drink—and the full English which came with it.

The experience was stressful but it was also worthwhile. However even the notary agreed the forms weren’t the clearest he’d seen and you hear all these stories about people DIYing the process. Though costly, I don’t regret the expense, especially as the moment we walked out of the office I realised I was suddenly Asha Bardon. Like, legally. I could get new cards in my new name, start updating all my stuff. The Deed Poll form itself is signed and witnessed meaning I should be able to take it into any place requiring it and do the name changing stuff.

Realistically though, I’m going to wait for the official documentation from the Royal Courts of Justice. There’s no hurry but it feels weird: Lesley died today and Asha was born. I’ve decided, as a result, that it should be marked. It’s a much more positive event than my actual birthday and the weather’s nicer too.

I bought myself a large 99 with two Flakes as a treat (and the ice cream seller snuck Uni, with my permission, a half cone filled with ice cream). The old-fashioned kind, from my childhood, Mr Whippy. It was the perfect end to an otherwise odd day. However I’m very glad I persevered and got it all done.

So yeah, if you’re looking to do a deed poll, put in the effort and do it legally. You’ll thank me later, at least that way you have forms that will stand up in court. Now I just have to get more stories published and get some novels ready to be edited. Tonight, though, I’m taking the night off. I think I deserve it.

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