A van den Berg by any other name…

Before I actually met the man I married, I had no intention of changing my name but once Paul and I actually got engaged it seemed like a natural way of cementing our future family unit rather than a subjugation of my own identity. Plus there’s the added benefit of having a one word last name. If you’re one of my South African readers you might wonder what I’m on about but trust me, attempting to fill in British forms with a multiple word last name is a complicated and often impossible process that regularly ends with letters addressed to Ms A Berg, middle names Van and Den.

Once you get past the bit where you look at things addressed to Mrs Abigail Osbiston and feel like you’re sneaking around in your mum’s good high heels playing dress-up, it’s actually quite cool getting a new name to play with.

So I have been slowly but surely changing my name on things since we got back from the Minimoon. For the most part it has been relatively simple. A couple of places, notably the bank, have wanted me to bring in my marriage certificate but it hasn’t been too traumatic. There was some confusion with the bank when I asked to have new cards with my new name on them. Surely this is not a bizarre request? In the end they did it though… a for free to (that’s just for Rabia).

Today I decided to ring up BT. BT’s call centre is based in India. Now I’m not dissing international call centres out of hand. Often they provide a perfectly valid service but sometimes there is a language and cultural barrier that can be a bit challenging as the conversation below will highlight:

BT: How can I help you today, madam?

Abbi: I recently got married and would like to change my name on my account.

BT: No problem. What would you like to change it to?

Abbi: Osbiston

BT: Can you spell that?

(At this point there follows approximately 10 minutes of me spelling my new last name for the customer service assistant and him spelling it back incorrectly/incomprehensibly, which is too painful for me to transcribe, before we eventually get to Osbiston)

BT: Right, so I have changed your first name to Osbiston. What would you like to change your last name to?

Abbi: Wait, what?  I don’t want to change my first name. I want to change my last name.

BT: Oh… okay… so do you want to change your first name back to what it was?

Abbi: Yes!

BT: What was it again?

Abbi: Abigail!

BT: Can you spell that?

(Some more spelling.)

BT: Okay what do you want the last name to be?

Abbi (now starting to weep): OSBISTON

BT: Can you spell that?

I did eventually end up with an account named Abigail Osbiston although I am waiting to see the actual bill before I believe it… otherwise maybe it will just be less complicated to change my name to Osbiston van den Berg than calling them again.

The last hurdle will be to change my passport, which could be a special flavour of entertaining since it appears I have to have my dirty foreign marriage certificate “independently legalised”. Let the games begin.


  1. Karen

    Oh please let me call you Osbiston van den Berg from now on. After a very long working day this has made me laugh out loud on the train (which we have now been kicked off of because it has apparently ‘struck something on the track just outside the station’ – hopefully not a person)

  2. Wouldn’t you need a new passport once you get British citizenship anyway?

  3. Abbi

    I will have two passports. It’s my South African one I need to change.

  4. Lesley

    Found the hilareous account of the name change and laughed all over again-luvins

  5. Abbi! You spelt your name wrong up above the reply box! 😀

  6. Abbi

    Oops! Things to fix urgently!

abbiosbiston is listening...

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