Last Thursday night I was at Harry Morgan’s having my weekly dinner with my friend Arnold.
“I went to see a client in the City today, and the receptionist asked me my name. I told her it was Peter Rosengard.”
“She picked up a phone and said to me: ‘What’s your name?’”
“‘Still Rosengard,’ I told her.
“‘I’ve got a Mr Rosenberg here for you,’ she told my client.
“Arnold, it happens all the time. Rosenthal… Rosenberg… Rosenkrantz… Rosengarten. And you know what the really crazy thing is?”
“What’s that?” he said, taking another forkful of chopped liver.
“I changed my name from Rose to Rosengard.”
“You changed your name from Rose to Rosengard? Don’t you mean the other way round?” he asked.
“No… I was born Rose and I changed it to Rosengard.”
“Why would you do that?”
“I wanted to sound more Jewish.”
“You wanted to sound more Jewish!?” He was incredulous.
“Arnold, did you know Rosengard is a district of Malmo in Sweden?”
“No, I didn’t know that.”
“Did you know that Rosengard means ‘garden of roses’ in German?”
“You got the name Rosengard from a garden centre in Sweden?”
“No, it was my family name, but they all changed it to Rose in the 1920s. Coming from Glasgow, Rosengard wasn’t really your average Scottish name, although my father says he is a Hebrew Highlander and insists our family motto is ‘Och Aye… My Life!’”
“The McRosengards,” Arnold said.
“The whole family changed their names from Rosengard to Rose, except for my favourite uncle, Ernest.
“Funnily enough, he married a Swedish girl. She probably thought she was marrying a small town in Malmo. But the really odd thing is that when I was a kid growing up, the only word I couldn’t pronounce properly was my own name!
“People would say. ‘What? Roose?… Ross…?’
“No. ‘Rose’, I’d say.
“‘Oh right, Rhodes.’
“So the whole family chopped a bit off the end — as we tend to do.”
“But you added a bit on,” Arnold said.
“Exactly. My parents are still Jack and Sally Rose, and after all these years the only person who still uses ‘Rose’ is my mother.
“Every year she addresses her birthday cards to ‘Peter Rose’. She’s 87 and she’s still always doing something and always in a hurry. She says Rosengard takes too long to write.”
August 6 2009.