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.)
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.
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.