My Name

I like the fact that officially I have five first names:

Geertrui Maria Magdalena Maurits Hendrik

(or: gm³h !)

Geert is a notoriously difficult name to pronounce for non-Dutch speakers. My French-speaking grandmother didn’t manage and my team mates in the Cambridge University team simply called me ‘Kate’, as volleyball emergencies did not allow for complicated tongue exercises. Dutch speakers on the other hand expect with that name a man. Perhaps that’s the reason why one of my great-aunts used to call me Charlotte.

What’s fascinating (and rather irritating) to me, is that as I get older, people tend to decide for me to change my name into its diminuitive: Geertje (little Geert). I am not small (5ft 10) & don’t take easily to belittling (literally in this case). 

Philosophical from early on: ‘I am Geert [no more dot there], who are you?’


When I was little, the worry lay elsewhere. Being called Geert, I was the only one of the four sisters (being called Hilde, Annemie & Kris) without an ‘i’ to dot in my name. Aiming for creativity even then, for some years, I dotted the ‘r’.


Because the Holy Geertrui of Nijvel (Belgium) is invoked against mice, she’s also effective against worries: its Dutch translation, muizenissen, being derived of muizen, mice. Geertrui was the daughter of Pepijn van Landen, a Merovingian mayor of the palace. Hence the Frankish origins of the name which combine skillful spear throwing with loyality. What are we to make of that?