Last week, the UK was battered (not my words, the words of the British Broadcasting Corporation) by Storm Doris.
I’ll just let that sentence settle for a minute.
The UK, was battered, by Storm Doris.
This came as a complete surprise to many, since the only malice that Doris had ever displayed up to that point, was when she deliberately sabotaged her arch-rival Edna’s lemon drizzle cake at the Chatsworth Bake Sale in 1993. Well, clearly that little foray into petty vandalism gave Doris a taste for more widespread destruction, because last week she returned to completely fuck the UK for a day or two.
The British Media went into a frenzy. The Telegraph and The Guardian followed the BBC’s lead, by referring to Doris ‘battering the UK’; while the Daily Mirror focused on the ‘Wrath of Doris’. The Sun, in typical classy fashion, opted for a headline beginning ‘Floody Hell…’, but I couldn’t read on, as I got distracted by Tina, 24, from Croydon.
Likewise, The Daily Mail stuck true to form, by blaming the storms on immigrants and gay people, The Daily Express swore blind they could see Princess Diana’s face in some of the clouds (‘wasn’t she just wonderful though?’), and Donald Trump denied the storm had ever happened, claiming the press were making it all up.
Look, I’m not going to launch into a rant about how we panic about the slightest adverse weather conditions here in the UK, as I did that a few weeks ago (https://middlerageddad.com/2017/01/20/the-snowman-and-the-snowblog), and actually, unlike the light sprinkling of snow which brought the UK to a near standstill in January, Doris did in fairness create a fair amount of strong wind – as is common in ladies called Doris.
What I would like to consider, however, is why in the name of all things sacred, we decided to start naming our storms after old people. It’s not like too many comparisons can be drawn:
The current system was introduced following the St Jude’s Day storm of October 2013, when 17 people were sadly killed across Europe, but it wasn’t until two years later, in November 2015, that we were introduced to the first of the new-name storms here in the UK: ‘Abigail’ (which is, like Doris, another name widely associated with violence and destruction, apparently).
Maybe I’m reading too much into this, but if I had lost my house, or a loved one, in adverse weather conditions, and then some dickhead came up with a system to give storms ever-so-slightly quirky names, I’d be pretty pissed off.
I get the reasoning behind classifying storms, so that there is no confusion within the media, or between meteorologists, but who on earth decided we should give them names like Angus, or Barbara? We might as well name them after Teletubbies (“News just in, and Storm ‘Tinky Winky’ is set to reach parts of the UK by this evening, causing widespread damage and panic. Eh-oh.”)
Just imagine being at the brainstorming meeting where this was all decided:
“Ok guys, thanks for coming. I’ve been giving this some thought, and what about naming the storms after Greek Gods, like Poseidon, Zeus, and Apollo?”
“No, we can’t use Athena. Everyone will just think of that poster from the 1980s, with the hot tennis player scratching her arse.”
“Good point. I guess Hermes is out as well then?”
“Exactly. Imagine naming a storm after a shit delivery company. Hey guys, there’s a big storm coming, but it’ll probably just fuck around with your recycling bin for a bit, ok?”
“Agreed. Let’s put Greek Gods on the back burner for now. What about Roman Emperors? You know, like Caeser, Nero and Augustus?”
“You mean dog food, coffee shop and the fat kid from Charlie and The Chocolate Factory?”
“Ok, I see your point. Plus, if we take out all the strong, commanding Roman Emperor names, all we’re left with is the likes of Julian.”
“There was a Roman Emperor called Julian?”
“Yep. He was the cousin of Constantius II, and ruled for three years, from 360 AD to 363 AD, before being killed in battle.”
“You making this up, Dave?”
“No, I fell asleep in front of the TV the other night, and must have nudged the remote, because when I woke up, the History Channel was on.”
“You really need a girlfriend, mate.”
“Thanks. Ok then, smart arse, if we rule out Greek Gods and Roman Emperors, what else do we have? Stormy McStorm Face?”
“Don’t be so hasty. I quite liked Julian.”
“Julian? But that’s a terrible name for a storm.”
“Exactly. It’s the last thing they’ll expect, and it’ll make the storms sound fun and less scary.”
“Do we not want people to be scared though? I thought we were meant to be warning them about the threat to their homes, their belongings, their very lives?”
“Calm down, Dave, this is the UK we’re talking about. The worst we ever get is a tree falling over, or some local reporter getting soaked on Blackpool Promenade. It’s the weather equivalent of You’ve Been Framed. Besides, I’m in charge, and I say we go with ‘names that no one has used in forty years’. Get the Met Office on the phone.”
And that’s pretty much how it went, I should imagine.
So there we were, last week, as if the UK wasn’t a big enough laughing stock already with the whole Brexit fiasco, announcing to the world that we were in the process of getting blown by Doris (behave).
The worst part is, the rest of the world was just starting to forget about us, and what a colossal mess we have made of our country, because an even bigger idiot was jumping up and down, flailing his arms around, and diverting their attention across the pond.
We could have just kept quiet, and dealt with the storm on our own (after all, it only lasted a day or two), while everyone else across the globe sat down with a large tub of popcorn, to see what President Chuckles would come up with next (“I wanna build a big satellite in space with a laser on it, and I wanna turn Miami into a massive trampoline so we can just bounce across to The Bahamas, and I want a law which makes it acceptable to grope women, and…. oooh, are those sweeties?”). We should have just kept our mouths shut, but we’re British, and we don’t like not being the centre of attention for more than five minutes.
The Americans must bloody love us. Every time the world’s focus is very firmly on them, laughing hysterically at the professional clown they have elected to lead their country, they can always rely on their runt cousin, the one with the funny accent and bad teeth, to deflect some attention away from them.
“I say old chap, look over here! We have a pathetic little storm coming, and we’ve called it Doris. I know, aren’t we just adorable?”
And adorable kind of sums it up, really. Look, I know people have been killed in this latest storm, but when you look at parts of the US, and Canada, where they’re up to their tits in snow for more than a month, it really does make a mockery of what we consider to be bad weather.
Maybe that’s the reason we give our storms such daft names. Proper storms, like the ones in the US and Canada, get powerful, commanding names, like Otis, Zelda, Gert and Greg. We can’t compete with that kind of masculinity, so we give our storms more appropriate labels, by flicking through ‘Baby Names Of The 19th Century’.
Whereas the Americans will come up with the likes of Bret, Dirk and Nate (good, solid names), we’re more likely to opt for namby-pamby names like Boris, Donald and Nigel, to make everyone feel more at ease. Because, at the end of the day, how much damage can honestly be caused by names like Boris, Donald and Nigel?