St Helena is not the only island where nicknames are part of the culture: but Norfolk Island in the South Pacific takes the tradition a step further, according to its official website:
“The island’s telephone book is the only one in the world to be listed by nicknames, including Tarzan, Lettuce Leaf, Diddles and Shagsy,” it says.
The former penal colony is sometimes compared with St Helena – the two have similar problems of isolation – and there is a connection of sorts, in that many of its citizens have roots on Pitcairn Island, another British overseas territotory.
On 8 June every year, the Norfolk Islanders celebrate Bounty Day, recalling the date in 1856 when the entire population of Pitcairn arrived there, having been relocated en-masse. Some subsequently returned to Pitcairn.
The celebrations include a re-enactment of the landing, and a kind of fancy dress competition for descendants of the original families – all bearing the names of the mutineers who arrived on Pitcairn aboard HMS Bounty.
There are so many Christians, Buffets and Youngs that nicknames (or nikniems) are widely used. We’re not told whether the custom extends to senior expat officials in the island government…