A couple of deeds poll later, and Claire and I are half-way to having changed our surnames. Our new surname: Q. I hereby declare this blog post to be the official FAQ of the Dan/Claire name change. So there, Ms Q.

1. You’ve changed your names?

Yes, we’ve changed our names. I’m now “Dan Q”, and she’s “Claire Elizabeth Q”. We’ve signed deeds poll and it turns out that’s all you need to do.

2. How do you spell your new name?

Q. The letter Q. Just Q. That’s it.

3. Like Q from Star Trek or Q from James Bond?

No, like Q, the set of all rational numbers.

4. Why did you change your names?

For some time now we’d discussed changing our names so that we had the same surname. We’ve always liked the idea that when you become a family of your own, distinct from your parents, you should be entitled to choose a new surname for yourselves.

5. So this is like you “tying the knot”, then?

Not really. But if you were waiting for us to get married someday, this is the closest thing you’ll prbably ever get to it (unless we have a party sometime to commemorate being together), so if it helps you to think of it like that, yes.

6. Why did you pick the letter “Q” as a surname?

It’s a cool letter. It’s uncommon, quirky, and is always followed by a U. Except now. Other letters considered and rejected for the role include A, B, C, P, T, X, Z, and Y.

7. Why did you pick a surname that neither of you already had?

Fair’s fair. Plus, we wanted something that’s pretty much unique. Apart from an 80s singer whose stage name is Stacey Q, we don’t know of anybody who has our surname.

8. WTF?

No. Q.

9. You know how much work this is going to take, right?

Tell me about it. It took me ages just to work out how to change my name in GMail. Now I’ve got to get certificates and sort out my bank, my other bank, my credit card, the DVLA, the passport agency, the electoral roll, the utility and service companies…

Yeah, we know it’ll be a lot of work.

10. Database administrators will hate you, you know.

We’ll hate them too, if their regexen don’t support single-character surnames. By the end of the year, I predict that we’ll be in at least three or four databases as Q-space-space-space. Not to mention a few places as Que or Queue. Fuck ’em.

11. How did your families take the name change?

Predictably to good. My mum laughed. My dad laughed, eventually. Her dad immediately assumed we were trying to commit some kind of bank fraud, and then laughed. The eldest of my two sisters sent me a text message reading simply “Disowned!” So, pretty well. And some of them actually had some useful practical advice about stuff.

12. Are you changing your signatures, too?

Yes, but we’re not putting them online, for obvious reasons.

13. Does this mean we’re allowed to say ‘DanQ’ in a silly voice instead of thank you now?

If you insist. You were allowed to say it before, of course, too. But it wasn’t funny then.

If there are any questions I’ve not covered, let me know!

The questions below were asked after this blog post was originally published.

14. Why not X?

It’s been done before. To death. Malcolm X and many of his supporters, for example. Plus it’s a little predictable. Q is a far cooler surname than X.

15. Did you, in your decision process, consider the effect this surname might have on your children?

Yes. In the event that we have children, they are likely to – being children – hate or be embarrassed their parents for one thing or another no matter what we do. This way, we’re giving the hypothetical sprogs either (a) something they can genuinely dislike us for or (b) something cool and unusual that they’ll be proud of. It all depends on their outlook, and I’m sure that there would be times in their lives that they would love, and times that they would loathe, their unusual surname.

If they are particularly bothered by it, they will be able to change it when they’re 16, whether or not we approve (although in all likelyhood, we won’t care either way).

16. You do realise you’ve called yourselves after an abbreviation, don’t you? [“Q” = “question” in many FAQs]

I do now.

17. And if you adopt/have a child, please can you call it something like Francis Adam? / Have you thought of changing your first name to ‘Snooker’ or maybe ‘Fuh’ / etc.

Thankfully, we haven’t yet brainstormed all of the possible funny names that could precede “Q”. Keep them coming, but don’t expect them all to appear in the Q FAQ.

18. How is it pronounced? Is it “queue” or “qwuh” or what?

It’s pronounced like “queue” (and, I suppose, “cue”): the name of the letter Q.

19. Can you legally have a number or a punctuation mark as part of your name?

The short answer: No.

The longer answer: Within the UK, there are certain restrictions on naming (at least, if you’re a UK resident). Firstly, you must have at least two names. Secondly, your surname must consist only of letters and (sometimes) simple punctuation like apostrophes (O’Reilly) and hypens (for multi-barelled surnames). And it’s not allowed to be blasphemous. Your first name must not imply that you have a title (e.g. Sir, Duke, Lord, King, etc.). Pope might be allowed, but I’m not sure.

It’s a pity, or I’d have probably been Huntl3y long before now. The 3 is silent.

20. Try and be interesting without adopting pointless name changes.

It’s not phrased as a question, anonymous coward, but I’ll address this one anyway:

To state that our name change is pointless or is an attempt to draw attention is to misunderstand our reasons. The choice of name certainly is attention-seeking (let’s face it, it’s a damn cool name!), but the fact that we have changed it is not.

I’d love to hear why you think this, though, if only you’d care to tell us who you are.

Further Reading

54 replies to Q

  1. Q is good. W would have been better. Then you would have had to stand behind me in alphabetical queues. As someone who was always last at registration, I don’t think it’s a trivial consideration.

    I have a question you missed. Does this mean we’re allowed to say ‘DanQ’ in a silly voice instead of thankyou now?

    Seriously though, happy for you. And screw the db admins, they’re all arses anyway (Claire excepted, obviously).

  2. uh…that’s…awesome?

    Although, why not X?
    If I had changed my last name to a letter it would have been X.
    Plus then you can sign your name with a big X!
    Dan X – has kind of a ring to it don’t you think?

    Man, you missed a trick there.

  3. Though I have vague memories of you announcing an intention to never have children:

    Did you, in your decision process, consider the effect this surname might have on your children?

    (I think it’s cool btw. Just asking cos I felt like asking something and this was the question I thought of)

  4. Give the kids numbers, not names. Then reconsider your views and have about 5, but don’t number them in chronological order, or better yet. Make it a promotion system!

    Hello! Prospective school board members! We’re Mr and Ms Q. These are our children 3 Q, 1 Q, 4 Q, 2 Q and Pi Q. Pi’s very special but don’t tell him off, he can be irrational at times.

  5. have a party, to celebrate but not this weekend i am at home, it needs to be a proper party. needs time

  6. Heh. I read the (updated) version, saw Q.13 and thought “I know, I’ll leave a comment asking if that question came from Ruth…” still, never mind…

    Q, to be fair, is one of the cooler-looking letters, assuming a proper font with serifs. (I know it’s supposed to be backwards, but I find sans serifs are a real pain to read).

    Also, re. Q. 4: This one interested me. Because I read it and thought “O, yeah, some people have the same name as their parents”.

    I’ve got the same name as one other person, ever, and that’s my sister. It’s really strange to think that some people don’t.

    Final Q: You do realise you’ve called yourselves after an abbreviation, don’t you?

    And if you adopt/have a child, please can you call it something like Francis Adam?

  7. And if you adopt/have a child, please can you call it something like Francis Adam?

    My fear perfectly put. :)

    The other options are things like Graham Neville Victor or Guy Charles Harry.

    Or just Iain.

  8. There’s also a hilarious way to mal-adapt a children’s pun:

    Q*: Why does it take so long to get into The Cottage?†
    A: Because there’s always a Q!!!

    * This is not the pun.
    † The usual question is “Why is it bad to get behind the 17th letter of the alphabet?”

  9. Can you legally have a number or a punctuation mark as part of your name?

    Ie could you have been called ‘Dan & Claire 42’? or ‘Dan & Claire ?’?

  10. Is an alphanumeric surname more secure than one that is only letters? Shouldn’t your surname also be longer? Hackers will be able to get it dead easily.

    Could you please find a couple called the Ps and then meet up and be really polite to each other?

  11. If you are in town and here someone mutter under their breath
    ‘I’m fed up of being in this Q’

    try not to take it to heart.

  12. you two Qs are nuts. NUTS! iv’e never heard the like of it, congratulations you mad buggars. You are both absolutely wonderful.

    Love Jen

    p.s. Imagine if you did get married though…
    “would you Dan Q take Claire Elizabeth Q to be your loved wedded Q?”

    “I Q”


  13. You piss people off enough with your self-righteous attitude, and now you draw attention to it.

    No one cares about you.

    Try and be interesting without adopting pointless name changes.

  14. Is there going to be a party to celebrate? as you say it is the closest thing we are going to get to your wedding so it would be lovely to celebrate it!

    p.S Is troma still on next weekend. I’m coming down on the 16th.


  15. Yes, I’d say that the true identity of ‘The voice of reason’ is probably rather easy (ha!) to guess, although that comment was at least reasonably well-constructed in the spelling/grammatical sense, aside from the pointless paragraph breaks. Either way, anonymous trolling is indeed the hallmark of the coward, as well as someone with far too much time on their hands.

    A question that didn’t occur to me before – you say that your name is now Dan Q – does this mean that you’ve legally dropped the -iel?

  16. Faye: Probably not who you’re thinking. I’m 95% sure it’s an old friend of our from college. =o)

    Yup, I’ve dropped the -iel at the same time. Nobody calls me that these days anyway.

  17. Cool!
    Muchos Q-dos.

    Do you know if any one else in the UK has a one letter surname?
    Even if they have have you considered getting some publicity or even money out of some newspapers or daytime TV show for an interview about it!

    Does this mean you will actually be the person who asks all the questions on FAQ pages? ie whenever it says “Q: bla bla bla bla?” they will have had to come to you for the query?

    My suggestions for childrens names are: “Barbie Q” or “Bob Ben Q” to give initials “BBQ”.

    I suppose an added benefit of your choice is that in an index of surnames, yours will be very easy to find – the first in a short section!

    Your car can now also be called a Q-car or if you take some weaponary aboard a Q-ship.

    There are some interesting abbreviations for DQ CQ CEQ too.

    I’m very impressed guys! Truely inspired.

  18. I’ve been away this weekend so haven’t been able to celebrate sorry but I have got you a little something for when I get back, not quite as expensive as champagne though sorry! Will see you both next week at some point :)

  19. […] when we said we wanted to have this party. Especially from our parents, who’d already taken our name change in their stride, and from my dad in particular, who’s been especially proactive in helping us […]

  20. JPB,

    Yup. But her name is legally Quigley. She just goes by the stage name Q because it’s more easily-pronouncable by her fans in the far east.

  21. This weekend, I was at BiCon 2009 (my third BiCon – I guess that makes it a tradition), and it was awesome. Here’s a short summary of the highs and lows:
    Worcester’s closer than I remembered, and – once Claire‘d gotten used to the Vauxhall Astra we’d rented – we made good time there and back. It’s a really simple journey, really – you just drive along the A44 until you get there, and then you stop (well, okay, there’s a brief stretch on the A470 near Rhayader, but that doesn’t really count, does it?). The biggest difficulty we had was on the University of Worcester campus itself, which is a maze of twisty little passageways, all alike.


    The usual student halls affair, although with rooms far larger and kitchens far better-equipped than those in, say, Penbryn. Also, the organisers must have run out of regular rooms, because the flat Claire and I were in had en-suite rooms, which was an unexpected luxury.
    An interesting quirk in the halls of residence at Worcester is that they’re very, very keen on motion-sensor-activated lighting with very short timers. The lights in the hallway outside my room would come on for barely seconds, and when I first checked in, I’d only just worked out which was my door and dug my key out of my pocket before I was plunged into darkness and had to leap around to get the attention of the sensor and get the lights back on. The one in the kitchen was even worse – while playing board games on the first night, we eventually grabbed an anglepoise lamp from one of the study bedrooms to use, as it was simply too frustrating to begin your turn right as the lights turn off, and have to wait for a few seconds until your movement is enough to turn them back on again.
    On the other extreme, the light (and the – noisy – linked extractor fan) in my bathroom was so sensitive that it would turn on if I so little as walked outside the door to my bathroom, while it was closed, and often wouldn’t turn off for several hours.
    Registration was the usual fun and games, with less time than usual setting up our badges in accordance with the “sticker code” (sort of a handkerchief code, but with a key and an atmosphere of being a little more playful). As usual the sticker code started small (and, unusually, with a distinct and separate “official” code) and expanded over the course of the weekend, such that by the end of the conference it looked like this:

    I didn’t spend very long on my badge and stickers this year: just enough to get a core message across… plus a not-on-the-key “Q scrabble tile”, as a reference both to being a board gamer and to Claire and I’s unusual surname. There’s probably at least half a dozen others I could have legitimately added to my pass.

    To save you squinting at the pictures (or clicking on them to see bigger ones: that’s allowed, too), I’ll decode my badge for you: polyamorous, likes hugs, possibly available (as in: I’m theoretically open to new relationships, but seriously – where would I find the time?), and the aforementioned “Q scrabble tile” and another “Q” that I found in the sticker stash.
    Claire volunteered for a shift of reception desk duties, which is cool, because they’re always in need of more folks there.
    Other People’s Workshops
    I didn’t go to as many workshops as I have in previous years: many of the things I was interested in clashed with one another, and other slots were simply full of topics that didn’t catch my attention. Also, I’ve found that going to a workshop in “every other” timeslot is a perfectly good way to get by, and spending the alternating periods hanging out, meeting people, and playing board games is a great way to keep energy levels up in the otherwise quite draining busy-ness of BiCon.

    Right at the start of the conference, I narrowly missed going to Genital Show & Tell, which I later heard was awesome – I’d gotten carried away talking to people and got there after they’d locked the door, putting a sign up on it that read “This workshop is closed. Sorry.” and underneath which somebody had added “Yes, it is possible to have too many genitals in one place!”
    I enjoyed Fun & Games, at which Ele joined me and we shouted lots of rude words, although never in as articulate a fashion as Nomad.
    Went to the Smutty Bisexual Storytelling workshop for the first time this year, and it was amazing: huge thanks to the amazing Jacqui (is that spelled right?) for that fabulous (hot!) session.
    Loved the talk and the discussion at the Quaker Marriage workshop (much thanks to the facilitator, whose low-key online presence suggests might prefer to remain unidentified), and the fabulous religion/marriage/sexuality conversation I had afterward with another participant in that workshop.
    Hung out at two of the three scheduled Naked Lunches, at which I enjoyed bonding with several other (naked) geeks over a shared love of Interactive Fiction. Who’d have thought?

    My Workshops
    This year was the first year that I ran a workshop (last year’s impromptu purity test party doesn’t count), and, because I like a challenge, I ran two:

    Alongside “fire_kitten“, I got bullied into (well, okay, I sorta promised) running a workshop entitled Different Approaches To Polyamory. As the only official poly-workshop on the programme (that’s why I offered!), it was somewhat over-subscribed, and we actually ended up with almost a quarter of the conference attendees present, and for part of the workshop we had to split them between two rooms. A lot of people grabbed me later during the conference and thanked me for the workshop, which was pleasing, especially as I did very, very little: mostly I gave the participants some conversation topics and split them up into groups, and chaired a bit of a chat about it all at the beginning and at the end. But if it worked, it worked, and it sounds like it worked.
    When I’d first heard that there was a minor shortage of workshops, I felt compelled to provide one, but I couldn’t think of anything that I knew enough about to stand up and talk about, that people might actually be interested in hearing about. And then I thought of something. I did my other workshop on Listening Skills for Supporting Others, and it also went really well. It was a little under-subscribed, probably because it was timetabled against the time that many people will have been preparing their BiCon Ball costumes (hell, if I’d have been doing so at that time, it’d have made things a lot faster and easier for me!). However, it got some fantastic feedback, even from folks who seemed skeptical at the beginning that any good could be done by listening and supporting feelings, rather than by providing practical help.

    BiCon Ball
    The theme of the BiCon Ball was Crime and Punishment, and so there were – predictably – plenty of burglars with swag-bags, police officers, superheroes and villains, and the like. The standard of body-painting was even better than normal (a number of people opted to wear virtually nothing, instead being painted as, for example, Wonderwoman, who didn’t wear much to begin with).
    Just to be that little bit different – and to take a metaphor to it’s illogical extreme in our characteristic manner – Claire and I decided to actually dress as a crime itself. She dressed as a salt shaker and I dressed as a Duracell D-Cell, and together we were… a salt and battery. Get it? Everybody else we spoke to that evening did, too, eventually, although many of them needed some prompting.

    And There’s More…
    Other highlights and notable moments include:

    The “settling in” period seemed a little worse than usual this year than last year. Somehow it took me a little while longer than normal to “get into the BiCon groove” and to start appreciating BiCon for the heap of awesome that it really is. It’s always challenging jumping into that environment, and that’s to be expected, but something made it a little slower this year. Perhaps the lack of a beer in my hand!
    Thoroughly enjoyed the last-minute late-night picnic party we helped kick-off after the BiCon Ball. Some of the coolest people at BiCon found their way to the quad not far from the students union, carrying their leftover food supplies, and we broke bread and exchanged hugs and chatted and it was fabulous. After all that and one thing and another, I finally got to bed at almost 4am, knackered but happy.
    Discovered some cool new board games that might be finding their way to a Geek Night near you (assuming you live in Aberystwyth) soon, including Frank’s Zoo, Snatch, and Type Trumps (Top Trumps, but with typefaces; yes really).
    Feeling like I’d helped make BiCon a success by volunteering to do a variety of bits and pieces (like the workshops, above) and generally being useful. It feels great to contribute back to the event and the community.
    Katie managing to accidentally break a pool cue between her breasts. I didn’t even know that such a thing was possible (apparently, it’s left quite a bruise, and I’m not surprised).
    Catching up (albeit only in passing) with Henri and Pascale, with whom we shared accommodation at our very first BiCon.
    Spending an hour and a bit chatting to somebody who seemed to coincidentally know their way intimately around pretty much every interest I’ve thrown myself at over the last twelve months. But better. The killer was when it turned out that she spoke Esperanto better than me (if it’s any consolation, she made up for knowing everything by being gorgeous).
    Watching another somebody dancing. Honestly, I could have watched him all night.
    Everyone seemed to like the campus, which is cool (presumably they didn’t have rooms with extractor fans that whirred until three in the morning, which is quite irritating if you happen to have gone to bed before then, which happens sometimes).
    Didn’t see as much of my flatmates as usual, which is a pity, because it included some fabulous people.
    Having common sense. Knowing what to say yes to, and what to say no to, and why both are okay.
    Not too bad a “coming down” post-BiCon period, this time.

    Right; that’ll have to do for a BiCon 2009 Roundup, because Ruth‘s cooking me dinner so I need to go eat.

    • Second name? Sure! Do it! freedeedpoll.org.uk can help, or use my contact form to drop me an email if you need any help. Good luck!

  22. Hi – I have the problem of other than knowing anyone who can act as even one witness [let alone two]. Could I suggest the option of a form with two ready witnesses, plus their signatures ? If ‘getting to know’ being the legal requirement, then how about an interview (as I had to go through when changing name via solicitors, a while back). Of course, it will be understandable if a fee for such interview be required.

    • @Devi,

      It sounds like you’re talking about freedeedpoll.org.uk? If so: no – to be witnesses to a deed, a witness must actually be present at the time that it is signed. Having witness signatures pre-filled would entirely undermine the point.

      I’ve no interest in doing interviews or charging a fee: there are plenty of others – like the solicitors you mention – who cater to people who want to pay to change their name. I created freedeedpoll.org.uk to help people to understand that they don’t have to pay any money in order to change their name.

      Strictly speaking, a deed does not require witnesses at all, and you’re welcome to make a “witness-less” deed poll and see if anybody will accept it. You’ll probably find that you have trouble! But if it works out for you: great! Witnesses provide a level of validity and protection, which is why they’re preferred. Similarly, the choice of witnesses can be important: again, there are few stipulations about who a witness can be, but choosing somebody who knows you well but not closely is ideal… but a friend, colleague, neighbour, etc. would probably be no problem.

      • Thank you for response (of which I only just noticed after deliberately navigating to this page, as was Not notified). But I think a witness-less deed poll may be good enough for Facebook [which is what I originally wanted it for] ! Same name as I am using here, btw.

      • I have had trouble with it being accepted at my doctors surgery today, due to No witnesses or official seal – tho have been OK with some other organizations.

        • Sorry you’re having difficulty, Devi. Once you’ve got other ID sorted out (e.g. Passport Office, DVLA, etc.) take along proof of your new name from them and your doctor will likely be happy to fix it. Failing that you can alwaays “cry GDPR/DPA2018” by pointing out that they’re storing false information about you despite being corrected and evidence being provided: many organisations are rightly terrified of the (potentially enormous) fines for GDPR/DPA2018 violation. Good luck!

          • Thanks for that quote, as have got round both Doctors & Housing Association with that one: however got letter this morning from passport office (who I thought would be more clued).

            Most organizations have been great – eg. able to just change online without even any proof for gas, water & electricity. Also over the phone [without having to send anything in]; for NI.

            I just have passport and one bank account left [pending appointment with managers]. The other bank just changed it then & there at the till – and credit card company, via letter.

    • Yes, although you increase the risk of it not being accepted by some fussier organisations like banks. There’s no legal requirement to have any witnesses whatsoever on a deed poll, but many organisations are reassured by their presence.

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