What’s In A Name?

Storm Brian battered Britain this weekend. I didn’t think Brian’s were capable of such fury, but it proves the Met Office are trying to con us into thinking that deadly storms are our benevolent friends.

It’s a trend, naming things other than people, pets, ships and steam trains. Apparently the Met Office started naming storms so that we could relate to them as they blew our sheds down the road, but I don’t want to relate to Storm Brian or his mad aunty Hurricane Ophelia, and I’m not looking forward to the next in the list, Storm Caroline. (And if he gets his skates on, we’ll be meeting Storm Paul in a few months’ time.)

Storm Gustav, named after an equally blustery Albanian viscount. (source NASA of all people)

What there won’t be is Storm Vader, Storm Forkbeard or Storm In A Teacup; all of them names banned by the weather people. But in my opinion the name of the storm should have some relationship to its severity. Storm Battered To Death or Storm Coming To Tear Your Face Off would give us much more warning than a weather system named after a snail off the Magic Roundabout.

And it’s not just storms that throw up bizarre inconsistencies when it comes to names. Over in Catalonia, the potential for another Spanish civil war could be exacerbated when Barcelona hold talks to the naming rights of their new redeveloped Nou Camp stadium. The Nou Camp is up there with the Maracana, Azteca, San Siro and Wembley in the pantheon of historic football stadia, but it could soon become the Lego Stadium or the Goblin Teasmade Arena.

When I was a lad my brain couldn’t quite process the names of racehorses and when the commentators read the results I’d hear Midnight Spanner written by Johnny Finnegan. The names sounded like book titles, but they were nothing compared to the showjumpers who really did have horses called Everest Double Glazing Mint Humbug. The Horse of the Year Show was one of the first places where sponsorship and naming rights affected the competitors until you ended up with the ugly possibility of Harvey Smith clearing a seven foot fence riding Ted Moult.

The aptly named Friends Provident Independent Financial Services Pollyanna (Source SG Bailey)

Names are a shorthand convenient way of identifying someone or something, but it can become an excuse for laziness. The millennial bug that threatened to bring down planes and national economies was truncated to Y2K, an unwitting extension of the geek-lazy attitude to reduction that caused the millennial bug in the first place.

Fast forward a few years and the possibility of Greece being forced out of the EU was shortened to Grexit and then as if that wasn’t bad enough Britain volunteering to be forced out was shortened to Brexit, as if this monumental decision was some type of small hybrid dog.

Some would say it’s all part of the relentless evolution of language, the march of economic reality and the anthropomorphism of the environment that has been with us for thousands of years. So bear that in mind when Storm Larry (yes, the letter L will bring us a storm named after Larry Grayson) blows the roof off the Hovis Seeded Batch Stadium in Bournemouth. It’s a relationship thing. Larry only wants to be our friend.

Believe it or not, this is the Cemetery End of Gigg Lane, home of Bury football club. It’s not called Gigg Lane anymore, but the Energy Check Stadium, an unusual name for a football ground with a cemetery in it. (Source Benxa91, and if that’s his real name I’ll eat my hat)

6 thoughts on “What’s In A Name?

  1. That was good. I wish I’d written it. Glad you’ve started posting again.
    I’m a bit bemused by this storm-naming thing. It sounds a bit too American for my liking. I expect to hear Storm Chuck or Storm Zeb soon, and that will make me really cross. Also, why Storm Brian? Very few people name their sons Brian these days. The main batch of Brians are in their sixties and seventies. They were a step ahead of us Alens (Alans and Allans), and we were a step ahead of the Garys. Who gets christened Brian or Alan or Gary these day? Only storms apparently.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I heard someone at work talking about their baby son’s friend Jasper. Jasper? I know one Jasper (Carrott) and can imagine that boy’s life being hell up to his seventeenth birthday. Storms beginning with B could have been Barney, Bruce, Bart or Barry, none of which are particularly modern. Maybe the storms should be named after villains: Storm Crippen, Storm Jack the Ripper. That would get the message across.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Climate change must be a bitch indeed if hurricanes are now threatening Europe on a regular basis; I must admit, the first time I heard the name “Hurricane Brian,” I laughed out loud thinking how that was possibly the most English name for a weather event. Of course it’d be named Hurricane Brian. Or George…

    You stumbled upon a supposed trademark of languages, which is that they simplify over time (though much of the linguistic research I’ve read disputes this). Old English was certainly more complicated than modern English, though perhaps that’s a function of more people from disparate cultures speaking the same language in different contexts, as well as other languages bleeding into the global English lingua franca.

    By the way, how are you guys handling Brexit (speaking of shit-storm Theresa May)? I’m still prepping my bomb shelter for when Trump starts World War III/nuclear winter over North Korea, myself.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. One thing I forgot to mention was the difference between British and American names for military campaigns. Americans tell it like it is: Operation Shock and Carnage; the British choosing something a bit more palatable like Operation Bumblebee.

      The idea that English has simplified or complicated over time is a tricky one because there was a time when spelling wasn’t standardised and anyone could spell anything any way they liked. (Which is great when you think about it.) Now, the most obscure grammatical rules can be utterly flummoxing because the rules might depend on whether the word was Anglo-Saxon, Norse, Brunswick, Norman. Even English people have a torrid time understanding the language. Luckily we don’t need to know the rules unless we want to become English teachers.

      Brexit! Brexit is now omnipresent. If the politicians don’t do something daft associated with it, the media go looking for a story as if they have some kind of grudge against the public. The enormity of Brexit is still beyond most people’s imagination, and the public seem to think leaving the EU is like not qualifying for the World Cup. The issue only seems to bother the BBC and Guardian readers. Everyone else is more interested in Strictly Come Dancing. Or Striclie Com Dansinge as it was called when it was first broadcast in 1427.


Don't be afraid to leave a comment. I don't bite. (But I know people who do...)

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s