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Colette Fitzpatrick: I kept my own name, Cheryl -- I am not a possession

Had Cheryl Cole kept her birth name when she married that lout of a husband, she wouldn't have to go through all the hassle of changing back again to Tweedy.

I suppose I was among the first generation of women who didn't take their husband's name as a matter of course. Yet I am the only one of my close friends who kept their maiden name.

Correction. You only have a maiden name if you take your husband's name after you get married, so I retained my birth name. Which, by the way, is my father's name and has no hint of my mother's maiden name.

I got lots of 'sure you have to keep your own name for your job' comments. No, I didn't actually. It never came up in work and doesn't figure in my contract.

My decision to keep my own name had nothing at all to do with my job. Whatever I was working at or even if I wasn't working, I would have kept it.

One friend said 'sure there's no boys in your family, so you had to carry on the family name'. Again, not the reason. I kept my family name because, like my husband, my family, my heritage and where I'm from are important to me, brother or no brother.

Those who cite 'convenience' as the reason they took their husband's name are kidding themselves. It's more convenient and less costly not to have to change your passport, driver's licence, bank cards, billing name and email address.

'It's for when we have children' is another excuse trotted out. The automatic expectation and confidence that children will automatically come into your life surprises me.

And if you do have children, why not give them their mother's birth name? In the event of marriage breakdown, children by and large are reared by their mothers and not the man who gave then their second name.


Taking your husband's name is a tradition, many of which are now utterly defunct, uncivilised and hail from an era when women were seen as the possessions of their fathers and husbands. It was traditional to hand over a dowry with your daughter. Traditionally, men and women waited to have sex until after they were married and that's as rare as hens' teeth now. It was tradition for women not to work outside the home or go into pubs.

I'm glad my husband didn't need me to take his name to know that I love and respect him and want to spend my life with him.

I'm happy to be known as his wife but wouldn't dream of asking him to take my birth name. Why would I take his?

Cheryl, you'd best hope that the next man you walk up the aisle with has a second name beginning with 'C'.

Or maybe not. Then you can get rid of that God awful tattoo on the back of your neck that says 'Mrs C'.

Go ahead, flirt! It's good for you

Are you a good flirt? It's an art the Irish may have to look to the Italians for tips on.

The wife of the Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi was so incensed by her husband's flirting that she publicly rebuked him by writing a letter to a newspaper after he refused to apologise for flirting with at least three women in one night.

The 70-year-old told one of them: "If I wasn't already married, I would marry you straightaway."

Of course, this is the same man who opened a political conference by praising the legs of the women in the front row.

When it comes to flirting, the eyes have it, it seems.

And research indicates that if a man stares at you for 8.2 seconds, he finds you attractive. Seems quite a long time to me. Enough time to think 'weirdo' or 'have I food on my face?'

For women the art of coquetry has evolved. Shyly picking lint off a man's jumper, licking your lips and flicking your hair seems a desperately obvious icebreaker.

Or desperate.

And are you leading someone on if you don't follow through? Put your money where your mouth is or your hand where it shouldn't be or haul ass out of there.

If you do flirt, make sure you're a flirting snob and don't bat your eyelashes at any old tomcat; blow dolls don't count. Neither does offering someone you just met a lift home after 10 pint bottles of Bulmers.

Let's just decode that one straight away -- 'lets make some bad decisions right now'.

It's good for your health apparently, flirting, causing a temporary boost in levels of testosterone and cortisol.

So go on -- flirt a little.

Remember the sage words of a pal when being rebuked by another for flirting with someone other than her husband.

"I'm married," she shot back. "Not dead."