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A life in patchwork

Whilst exploring my eligibility for dual nationality/citizenship - sorry if this is boring you  folks,  I know I have posted about this exciting development twice  already, but this is another aspect -  it gradually dawned on me that I am no longer allowed to legally use my maiden name in the UK.

Is this a little known fact ? - or only to me - it came as quite a shock I can tell you. I have oftentimes thrown in my maiden name, with a flourish, usually when completing a form or library card.  For me it adds authenticity.  I can actually feel it.   Mrs Saz Brown doesn't have the same ring to it - no offence Larry- that my previous title of Miss Saz Amy Chevalier had - the names have been changed to protect the innocent or in this  guilty - though more evocative perhaps with an exotic ring. For me. It is more representative of my ethnicity. I have French, Italian and English blood. Our blood line. Our origins. Our originality. Our authenticity. It is a rich tapestry indeed. 

What we seem to be or even what people believe us to be. Is pretty subjective. Contextual. Like a painting, a poem or a book. It isn't just about the paint, the written word. It is about what we bring with us.  Indeed, what I am is rarely what others percieve me to be. That is, I am only what they believe me to me. But for me. For myself. I can only be true to myself. And so I can never fulfill the perceptions of others. 

I do feel I need to put my own personal house in order. So arranging these pieces of the social and domestic patchwork in a non hierarchical but relative and authentically sound manner, just feels right for me at this time. So, the French passports and Identity cards are ordered. Now, I feel I should make my name authentic also. I have been in touch with the UK Deed poll people who very patiently emailed me the detail. Twice. So I could get my head around the why and the when. It is about creating a paper audit trail, I'm told.

In many European countries one retains their maiden name. In the US aand Mexico too. For example Jackie Bouvier Kennedy Onnasis. It tells a story. Mrs. Saz Amy Chevalier Brown. Okay, odd sounding but nevertheless authentic.

In 1982 I proudly showed my bank and the passport people my new bright shiny and symbolically  unsoiled, uncreased, Marriage certificate and they - I thought- added Brown to my name. But no, non, nein, na, ndak. I became Mrs Saz Amy Brown. With pride. Beaming. Happy and complete. Satisfied. So I thought. 27 + years later. Not so. One changes. Like that handmade quilt, we add bits, repair tears and pulls. Patch it up. We learn more stitches. We adorn it or alter the shape. I too have altered. I have grown in some ways. Made huge changes of direction in some ways. Some of my ideas, beliefs and situation, even my bedrock has organically altered. For better and for worse. Essentially I am still the 17 year old, (oh no really!?) but with wiser eyes, ears, mind and heart.

Changing a passport or name isn't life altering.  It is shoring up the edges of the quilt. Tidying up the side seams and even adding trimming. To secure the inner design. To enhance the inner spaces and to add to the foundation of the whole. That's what I am doing. It feels right. It feels authentic. This is me.

p.s. The French Embassy in London have called me twice as The Honory Monsieur le Consul, forgot to photocopy my UK passport. Secondly he omitted to point out that my marriage has never been registered with them. Enfin, my French passport & ID card will not have my married name on them. 


  1. What a lovely solution to the problem...In France, you retain your maiden name...In England, your married...Compromise, indeed. :-) You have expressed all of this so creatively. I love your quilt image! And the quilt you have pieced together is beautiful-- a lovely life! ~Janine XO

  2. I love the quilt analogy...

    I'm here also to thank you for your warm reply to my comment on your previous post. I have written to Sallymandy and through her words and yours, I have understood the importance of being there, listening and accepting my dear one's predicament as a treatable "condition," not an illness. I am no longer helpelss, I'm helpFUL.

    Ciao and again, thanks.

  3. I do hope things get straighten out soon. The tapestry concept is fantastic.

  4. I love ethinicity, culture, race. I think it makes us who we are. You names are beautiful. I love the way you have embraced your ethnicity in the quilt. Awesome idea. Something cultural that can be passed down to your hierloom. Totally cool!!

    I actually have a quilt from great grandmother and from my mom. Unfortunately, I don't have one from my grandmother, but I can probably get one.

  5. There is a lot in a name. You have a tonne of culture in your name. It's sprouting everywhere.

    I'm just glad I never strayed an inch from my own. I've always been me. I've never wavered...well, metaphorically, I suppose.

  6. Love the quilt analogy Sazzie, what a journey this quest has taken you on...a lesser soul would have given up already. Love your faux names too, Chevalier-very noble.

  7. I find it amazingly bizarre that you don't get to retain your name. In MY WIFE's case, she chose to retain ONLY her maiden name when we were married, and I don't blame her even a tiny little bit.

    (Well, maybe one tiny little bit - her name is much harder to spell than Sullivan, so she would have saved herself having to spell it a few thousand times to clerks and such.)

    Anyway, if the situation were reversed, and I was expected to take the name of the person I married, I'd be totally and righteously pissed off, so this makes no sense to me whatsoever.

  8. Ah...I know name...would be Ale'sandra Teresa Victoria Fern deValverde's a Spanish Catholic thing...but I love my name in all it's glory, so if it's to be shortened, just call me Sandi, lol!

  9. Gosh, how amazing. You have explained the feeling beautifully, we grow and change all the time and our names are very important.

    I have absolutely no idea what I want to be called after I am free (though I'm sure Husband could think of all manner of things!). My birth name only stayed with me until I was 8 and then I was adopted. I always despised the adoptive name but to go back to my birth name seems odd and may upset my mother.

    I'm glad you have been able to keep part of you that is dear. Thanks for sharing.

    S x

  10. I was once asked if I married my husband for his surname alone, as it is a rather romantic novel hero name! I love the idea of your patchwork quilt, each patch being a different facet of your life.

  11. The changing of names is always interesting...

    When I was using my maiden name, I was a different person than when I was married and used a new last name for 17 years.

    Then, I remarried, and changed my name again. Now I feel like a totally new person with this last name.

    Very strange!

  12. People sometimes tell me I have too many names - a crazy quilt!

    In case you haven't heard, my dear, you are the best shark tooth counter in the land. I believe I flubbed up an e-mail but I've sent you another. When you have time I will be happy to send you your gift.


  13. Funnily enough, my maiden name was "Beth Brown" and then I acquired a Bonini. I dropped my other names (Rebecca Elizabeth) and kept the three B's. I like the addition of the Bonini, even though the Italian heritage has nothing to do with me! I borrowed that bit of quilt, I guess.

  14. I agree that our lives are patchwork quilts. We're made up of so many facets, and the names we life by in each part of our lives are an important part of who we were then and now. Glad you get to use maiden and married, if only one of each in a given country.

  15. Oh yes a name holds so much and means so much. I kept the name I had when I got married as I want to keep my identity on a professional level. I use the married name for joint stuff but my other name for everything else.

    I was under the impression that you can call yourself whatever you want and use that name. There is no need to use the deed poll office unless you want to. A lawyer at a law firm where I worked told me that.

    You might be shelling out dosh when you don't need to!

  16. You have summed it up beautifully, and I understand completely your need to validate the whole and complete person whom you now find you are.

    I kept my maiden name when I first married, no double hyphen's for me! It seemed common sense, I had my business already established, all my stationery printed up in my birth name. But it was more than that. It was WHO I WAS. I did eventually lose my surname when the children came along, but not without a certain misgiving and a slight feeling of loss.

    You have a rich heritage, it is right to proudly celebrate it!

  17. My ex-wife was a bit of a cynic and described changing name when getting married as exchanging one mans name for another. She was a cynic. Even before she met me!

  18. Sara, As you know, my darling, I went a la Francaise, and never changed my name to my married one... Wags, (not WAGs) have, over the years, chided - So, you not married then?... but we are...

    It seems to have become less common not to change one's name on marrying, and yet, there is a big part of me that feels so strongly that one should never subjugate one's identity, to be married, to become a Mrs, to take one's partner's name...

    Tant pis! You are almost there, darling, revel in it! x


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Take the weight of your feet, draw up a chair and pour yourself a cuppa. Leave your troubles at the door and together we shall ride out the storms.
I will walk a while in your shoes...

Saz x

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