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In 2014 Melbourne was named the world’s most liveable city by the Economist Intelligence Unit for the fourth year in a row. Their annual survey rates 140 cities out of 100 in healthcare, education, stability, culture and environment, and infrastructure, and Melbourne received 97.5 overall, with perfect scores in healthcare, education, and infrastructure.

To celebrate Melbourne’s continuing success, I thought we’d look at two names that have recently made the news there. Melbourne is not only a very cultured city, it’s also rather quirky, so I picked a couple of cultured, quirky guys.

Heston Blumenthal is a multi award-winning British chef at the forefront of the “New Cookery”. Inspired by the playful nature of historic British cuisine, he follows a rigorously scientific approach to cooking, and has unleashed on an appreciative public such delicacies as snail porridge, chocolate wine, and bacon and egg ice cream.

Well known from his television shows, Heston has also been a celebrity chef on MasterChef Australia, been a guest at food festivals in Australia, and you can also buy his products through Coles (maybe you have already purchased one of his Christmas puddings). A great admirer of Australia, Heston has told Britons of Aussie food trends they should copy, including charcoal chicken, Tim Tams, quality beef, street food, and good coffee [article expired].

Early this year it was announced his triple Michelin-starred restaurant The Fat Duck, recognised as the best in Britain, will be temporarily relocated to Melbourne’s Crown Casino next February. He made a savvy move taking The Fat Duck to Melbourne, which has a marvellous foodie culture. The tasting menu is $525 per person (not including drinks), making The Fat Duck the most expensive eatery in Melbourne, more than twice as pricey as its current premier restaurant, Shannon Bennett‘s Vue du Monde.

Despite this hefty price tag, demand was so strong that a ballot system was introduced, with potential patrons having to register before the end of October. Unfortunately some scammers managed to hack into the ballot system, and are now scalping reservations for up to $1000 (you still have to pay for your food on top of that). However, never fear people with more than $1500 to spend on one meal, after six months the restaurant will morph into Dinner by Heston Blumenthal.

Heston is an English surname which comes from a place name; originally a Saxon village, Heston is now a suburb of west London. One of its claims to fame is that British prime minister Neville Chamberlain flew from Heston Aerodrome to Germany in 1938 for uselessly appeasing talks with Adolf Hitler. Naturalist Sir Joseph Banks, who discovered so many species of Australian plants and has the banksia flower named after him, is buried at St Leonards church in Heston.

Heston is usually thought to mean “enclosed settlement” in Old English, because it was part of an area surrounded by forest and woodland. For the same reason, another theory is that it meant “brushwood farm”.

The surname is strongly associated with Hollywood legend Charlton Heston, who starred in films such as The Ten Commandments, Ben-Hur, and Planet of the Apes. Born John Charles Carter, and known as Chuck or Charlie, he created his screen name by combining his mother’s maiden name, Charlton, with his stepfather’s surname.

Heston Blumenthal (who wasn’t rapt with his name as a child) asked his mother if he had been named after Charlton Heston, but she replied that she simply liked the name. When asked about the origins of his name, Blumenthal joked that perhaps his parents had a night out in London and parked at Heston Services (a motorway service station). The headline on the front cover of The Times was Top Chef Named After Parents’ Love of Motorway Services, requiring many apologies from Heston to his mum and dad.

Heston may be unusual, but it is by no means unique, being found thousands of times in historical records going back to the 16th century. There are a few examples of Heston being used as a first name in Australian records, although it is more common in the middle.

It’s a surname name for boys which is is rare yet on trend, and seems pretty cool, although I do think it will instantly remind everyone of the chef. Just like Mrs Blumenthal, you may be required to repeat that you just liked the name. Heston has also highlighted another issue with his name – American actress Tina Fey told him it translates as “shit on you” in Greek, so this is a name which does not travel well, at least not to Greece.

Tex Perkins is an Australian rock star, best known for fronting The Beasts of Bourbon and The Cruel Sea, but part of many other innovative musical acts. Recently he threw his hat in the ring as an independent candidate for the marginal seat of Albert Park in last month’s state election. His single policy? To get funding for the Palais Theatre in St. Kilda, a heritage-listed concert venue which needs a $40 million refurbishment.

Having gained the sitting Labor candidate’s promise of partial funding if he was elected, Tex directed his preferences to the ALP, then told people not to vote for him, but for Labor instead, and on election day, his How to Vote card instructed them to place the ALP first on the ballot paper. That’s taking self-effacement to a new level. His plan worked – Labor was elected, both in Albert Park and across the state. Let’s hope they honour their promise to the Palais. (Tex still got more than 1000 votes).

Tex is a nickname which is short for Texas, the US state. The state’s name comes from a Native American word in the Caddo language, tejas, meaning “friends, allies”. It was the name the Spanish called the Caddo, and the land they lived on, in today’s East Texas.

There is a Texas in Australia too, a town in southern Queensland. It is said that the name came about because of a territorial dispute between the owners of the land and some squatters – once the legalities were sorted out, the owners humorously called their land Texas because the United States and Mexico had a dispute over Texas, settled by the Mexican-American war. The town of Texas has featured in several country music songs, including one by James Blundell, who has spent quite a bit of time there.

The nickname Tex can be given to someone from the state of Texas, but can also be taken as a code name, and is a favourite for people with a cowboy, country, or Western persona, such as country music stars, cowboy actors, and rodeo promoters.

British soldier Keith “Tex” Banwell was the son of an Australian soldier, and lived in Australia for a few years as a child. A World War II hero who acted as General Montgomery’s double, he helped the Dutch Resistance, and was taken prisoner a few times, spending several months in Auschwitz after refusing to betray his friends. A character straight out of an adventure novel, Tex was his wartime code name.

Tex Morton (born Robert Lane) was a country music pioneer in New Zealand and Australia, and had a career that lasted from the 1930s to the 1970s. Dubbed the Singing Cowboy Sensation, the New Zealand-born yodelling whipcracker and sharpshooter performed at the Grand Old Opry and was a major contributor to the Australian country music scene. Tex Perkins (born Gregory Perkins) followed this lead, as he began in cowpunk, and has taken a Johnny Cash tribute show on the road.

Tex was in the US Top 1000 around the 1940s, but is now a rare name – only 11 boys were named Tex last year, although a further 11 were named Texas, perhaps called Tex on an everyday basis. It’s even less common in the UK, where less than three boys (maybe none) have ever been named Tex, although 19 girls (a meteoric rise) were named Texas, and maybe have Tex as a nickname.

In Victoria, 6 boys were named Tex in 2012, and it’s a name I see fairly regularly in birth notices; to me it seems as if the numbers might even have risen. Perhaps Tex Perkins is helping the name along, although I don’t know if any have actually been named in honour of the rock star. Tex is a great little nickname name, with a cool X-ending like Max, Rex, or Fox. It has a bit of a cowboy feel to it, although Tex Perkins makes it seem a bit rockstar too.

Two cool, charismatic boys names that are a little out of the ordinary – but which one do you prefer?

Both Heston and Tex received approval ratings of 40%, but more people loved the name Tex.

(Picture shows Tex Perkins outside the Palais Theatre; photo from the Herald Sun)