"Little Mister Jones Will See You Now"
I recently realised that all of my bank cards refer to me as "Miss".
Why they have to refer to me as anything other than my actual name, I don't know. Does my title have any relevance to how my purchase of tea and biscuits is processed? If I changed it to "Mrs" would they have to start running all my spending past my husband? Can't have me wasting all the housekeeping money on gin and personalised wellness journals, can we?
But, if they must have a title on them, it could at least be the correct one.
No, not "Mrs" - "Ms".
Why, yes, I am a feminist, thanks for noticing.
Honestly, I'm a bit embarrassed it's taken me so long to get annoyed about the bank cards. I knew they said "Miss" and I was sure I'd ticked the box "Ms" and I still just rolled my eyes and got on with typing somebody's error into online shopping carts. I did the same when Clydesdale (remember them?) sent me one which called me "Mr".
But I'm angry now.
This was my first Christmas season as a married person and all the incorrectly addressed cards - Mr & Mrs Not-My-Name; The Family Not-My-Name - have riled me up.
My husband and I got married for one wonderfully romantic reason: fewer bureaucratic headaches when one of us eventually dies. Marriage hasn't changed who I am and I didn't feel the need for a [frankly not very] fancy new name so other people could pretend that it has.
(Incidentally, three months on, I still feel self-conscious saying "my husband". I fully expect people to roll their eyes in the same way they might if I was a teenager talking loudly about hash and handcuffs. Am I playing at being a grown up?)
Societal assumptions aside, changing my name sounded like a hell of a lot of effort and postage stamps. More than once, I have congratulated myself on not putting myself through all of that paperwork.
But then I started to wonder whether any of my official bumph had "Miss" on it. I was concerned it might have some sort of ramifications down the line - companies refusing to deal with me because I'm supposed to be married but my title contradicts it.
From what I can gather, it doesn't matter - your title is not part of your actual name; it's just a bit of preenery and you can call yourself whatever you like (I mean, not "HRH", obviously, but one of the standard ones starting with M) - but once I had noticed those errant bank cards, I looked into correcting them.
And I discovered that's easier said than done.
The banks won't change my "name" unless I provide proof of the change. Except I haven't changed it.
As a married person, I can take in my marriage certificate (obviously, I can't - Covid - but in theory) and that will be good enough. This, despite marriage certificates not making any mention of what either party intends to call themselves. And "Ms" being intentionally non-indicative of marital status.
But what about all the unmarried women? What if you're simply a woman who ticked "Miss" because you'd given it no thought or because that's what "everybody else" does or because you were nervous about bank tellers mocking the feminist as soon as you were gone? And now you've changed your mind? You've realised that you don't like being defined by your perceived lack of a spouse?
Now you're stuck with "Miss" unless you're prepared to kick up a fuss (I would imagine people who want to be recognised as "Mx" face the same - and quite probably larger - hurdles).
And I know that I would have been more likely to change banks than argue my case. Again and again and again until I found one which got it right - prioritising personal titles over interest rates; feeling simultaneously respected and ripped off.
But you - you need not do the same.