They call me Stacey…that’s not my name.

It’s as if The Ting Tings wrote their 2007 song just for me, a Stacia routinely called Stacey and that’s if I’m lucky: it could be one of an endless variety of names, none of which are the ones I answer to.

The most common error is Stay-see-a or Stasha or Star-zee-a, but in my decades on this planet there have been far more outrageous attempts: there are still people who have known me for many years who still call me Star-see-ar. Hopefully they’ll read this.

Being asked for my name for a cup if I visit certain coffee shops is a minefield and my step-daughter Stacey and I are continually mistaken for each other on email and phone.

My name is unusual. The full version, Eustacia, has always been reserved for teachers, doctors, solicitors and my mum when she was telling me off. I can go entire years without hearing it said out loud even once.

According to research, having an unusual name plays a major role in how people are perceived by those around them and can lead to less career progression and promotion.

This explains a lot: I’d previously thought that my lack of career progression was due to my inertia when in fact it’s all my mum and dad’s fault. It’s so unfair.

When I was born, my parents initially decided to call me Rose.

I was announced in the Eastern Daily Press as Rose, my grandparents thought I was called Rose, I probably thought I was called Rose too.

Then, suddenly, it was all change – from a simple, classic name, I became Eustacia which is, in anyone’s book, a fairly giant step in the opposite direction.

I’m named after Eustacia Vye in Thomas Hardy’s Return of the Native which my parents read to each other when mum was pregnant. There was no Netflix at the time.

According to Cliff Notes: “’Queen of the Night’ Eustacia has an appearance that is slightly exotic…Mrs Yeobright tells Clym she is idle and probably wanton. Susan Nunsuch even thinks of her as a witch. She takes perverse pleasure in being unconventional in small ways and has the passions and instincts that make a model goddess.”

Read from that what you will.

At school, I desperately wanted to be called Louise or Sarah or Clare or Joanne because all my friends were, but by the time I was an angst-ridden teen, I realised that ‘Stacia’ made me look a bit edgier when I signed my miserable poetry or terrible paintings of mermaids.

When I joined Archant, my mother sulked for a month when I refused to use my full name as my byline even though she never called me it herself (unless, as mentioned, I was being given a dressing down).

It’s a rare day that I am called Eustacia (there was an audible intake of breath when I said my wedding vows) but sadly it’s not a rare day when someone mispronounces my name: for the record, the correct pronunciation is Stay-sha. Like ‘station’.

It’s the persistent offenders that annoy me most, those who have – reasonably – asked how to pronounce my name and then continue to provide their own variation on the theme throughout subsequent conversations, over days, weeks and even decades.

Once, memorably, someone said to me that they’d decided to call me Anna on the basis that it was simpler for them to remember, pronounce and they “liked the name Anna” – it was, they said, an abbreviation of Anastasia. Which is also not my name.

The best ever name fails have been from PR companies: Staga Dreegs had a Clockwork Orange feel to it, while Stacey O’Briggs gave me a much-needed injection of Gaelic cheer.

New research shows that the easier a person’s name is to say, the better their chances of success in the workplace and the quicker they were promoted.

Equally, research by Columbia University’s Teachers’ College suggested that mispronouncing names or getting angry because they can’t pronounce a name is a “micro-aggression” which researchers defined as a “…brief and commonplace daily verbal, behavioural, or environmental indignities, whether intentional or unintentional…”

Eastern Daily Press: Breast cancer charity Little lifts, which gives gift boxes to patients, has an afternoon tea at Britannia Cafe. Little Lifts recipients with founder Oa Hackett, front left, and trustee Shopie Houghton-Hood.Picture: ANTONY KELLYBreast cancer charity Little lifts, which gives gift boxes to patients, has an afternoon tea at Britannia Cafe. Little Lifts recipients with founder Oa Hackett, front left, and trustee Shopie Houghton-Hood.Picture: ANTONY KELLY (Image: Archant Norfolk 2018)

Oa Hackett, founder of Norwich-based charity littlelifts which offers people going through chemotherapy or radiotherapy for breast cancer a box full of useful treats, is used to people stumbling over her name.

Named by her teacher parents after the Mull of Oa, one of the most dramatic locations on the Scottish island of Islay, and also after warrior queen characters in a novel, Oa (full name Oamay, she dropped the ‘may’ after sixth form) and little sister Lilith (Lilly) were named for strong women.

“I remember getting a new laptop at work and I forgot that the spellcheck wouldn’t recognise my name so I ended up signing off a work mail from ‘Oaf’,” laughs Oa.

“I do love my name: it’s an ice-breaker when you start to talk to someone and I like that it’s different but I do sometimes cringe when I know someone is about to pronounce it for the first time: there’s that moment when they pause and you wonder what’s going to come out.

“You get all sorts: Ooer. Ooh. The letters said like in the alphabet: O.A. You have to laugh!”

Oa’s colleague Shopie Houghton-Hood, volunteer, events and community manager at littlelifts, desperately wished she had been called Sophie when she was a child but has since grown to love her unusual name.

“I worked with someone once who mispronounced my name for 13 years. After that long, you just give up and answer to it, there’s no hope,” Shopie laughs.

Named for a Nigerian princess who her actor father had met, Shopie has been called Shaffy, Shabby, Soapy and Snoopy: until she was aged around 20, she would tell people her name was Sophie for the sake of ease.

“It took a long while for me to realise how cool my name was and to grow to really love it, but when I was younger I hated it and just wanted to be ‘normal’,” she said.

“I never mind people asking me how I pronounce my name and I don’t mind if someone tries to say it and asks me if they’ve got it right. It’s harder when people get it wrong, don’t ask and then carry on regardless!

“I really love the fact that I’ve never met anyone else with my name and when you work in a role that means talking to a lot of people, it’s a great conversation starter.”

My Weird Norfolk partner in crime Siofra Connor has had her name pronounced in a number of obscure ways: Shaniqua being one of the best.

Her name means fairy, or changeling, and she’s only met two other Siofras – her godmother…and a dog in Edinburgh.

“It was a tiny, scruffy terrier,” she laughs “and one of my friend Gemma’s friends heard her talking about me and decided to call HER pug Siofra, too.

“It’s always a talking point and I think there’s something about having a really unusual name that makes you feel a bit different and possibly feel a bond with other people who have unusual names too.

“People have called me Shofra, Seraphin, She-off-ra…sometimes there’s just silence as people desperately try not to say my name at all.

“It is really rare that someone gets my name right first time: I spoke to a chap from the Sainsbury Centre recently and he got it right straight away and I was so taken aback that I thanked him,” laughs Siofra, “and then he told me he listens to the Weird Norfolk podcast so hears us announcing our names at the start of each episode!”

Now if you’ll excuse us, Ooer, Shabby, Shaniqua and myself are off to convene a meeting of the Strange Names Club - there's a drink in it for anyone that can pronounce all our names correctly first time round...

11 issues people with unusual first names face

1. Having to sound out ("Stacia like 'station'") your name every time you introduce yourself and ALWAYS having to spell it out

2. Watching people struggle as they try to introduce you and then cringing when they get it wrong.

3. Endlessly correcting people who mispronounce your name.

4. Giving up endlessly correcting people and having to just answer to something that isn't your name because it's easier.

5. Never having a snowflake's chance in hell of finding a personalised item with your name on it in a shop.

6. Everyone making assumptions about you based on your name: that you are unbelievably posh, that you are 'exotic', that you are from a cult. I've had that last one several times.

7. You will have to lie about your name every time someone asks you for it for a coffee or pizza order because IT'S JUST NOT WORTH THE HASSLE.

8. Auto-correct will change your name to Stacks. Or Stash. One day you won't notice - that day will be when you have to send an important email.

9. Your graduation ceremony will be ruined with the anticipation of just how horrifically wrong the person calling out names will be when faced with Eustacia. That was a bad, bad day.