The Plastic Hippo

December 7, 2015

Abigail`s Party

Filed under: Environment,Media,Politics,Science,Society,World — theplastichippo @ 3:00 am
Tags: , , ,
Before via BBC Northwest Tonight

Before via BBC Northwest Tonight

I think I must have missed the memo informing weather obsessed citizens of the UK and Ireland that storms were to be allocated human names in order to raise awareness of potential severity. Hurricanes and cyclones have long been given names to highlight the difference between weather and a severe weather event and so warn those in its path of disruption, a danger to property and a risk to life.

All this seems rather sensible until you look at the names chosen. It seems that more damage is caused by hurricanes with a girl`s name rather than a boy`s name. There is absolutely no meteorological reason for this strange correlation leaving scientists at the US National Hurricane Center in Miami scratching their heads. However, psychologists realised that people did not feel threatened by a storm with a “nice” girl`s name and took fewer precautions than when a storm with a “more aggressive” boy`s name approached. Some have even suggested that if Katrina had been called Cruella and Sandy had been called Lucrezia, the damage and loss of life might have been reduced.

So now we have storms affecting the UK and Ireland being named to indicate a threat and to allow us time to brace ourselves. It seems that the names were decided by public vote so we can look forward to visits from Nigel, Orla, Steve and Tegan later in the season. The next one will be called Eva and the last one will be Wendy. We tend to be pragmatic about the weather and only those spending their lives on social media usually argue with fog or become filled with rage at the result of a television “talent” contest. But when something has a name like, for example, ISIL or Corbynista or economic migrant, then we know to board up the windows and sandbag the front and back doors.

I think I must have slept through Abigail and Barney but then again I slept through the great 1987 hurricane when living in Shepherd`s Bush. I heard something about it on the radio in the morning but upon opening the front door to go to work, the uprooted trees, overturned cars and pavements covered with roof suggested that I had snored through something really big. I was vaguely aware of Clodagh due to high winds and heavy rain but, hey, it was November in England and I wasn`t expecting sunstroke. Desmond, however, turned out to be something really big.

Still, it`s not as if people living in Cumbria are not accustomed to watching flood water enter the living room and start climbing the stairs. In 2005, 2009, 2012 and during last Saturday night they endured a “once in a 100 years” freak weather event. It could be once in 250 or 500 or 1,000 years depending on who you talk to. With four serious floods in a decade, the good people of Cumberland and Westmorland can take cheer and can rest assured that statistically speaking, they will not have to replace the three piece suite for another 4,000 years.

The BBC, our award winning state news service, reported the unfolding crisis with its hallmark tact and impartiality. On the Sunday lunchtime news, the report talked of “homes and businesses completely destroyed”. By six o`clock the damage was downgraded to “destroyed” and by ten o`clock homes and businesses had been “ruined”. One correspondent took the air in a chartered helicopter to file stunning footage of great swathes of urban and rural landscape submerged by the torrent. Another took to a rescue boat along with his cameraman to tell us that the boat was full. Well here is a message to BBC Feedback and Points of View; “Get out of the bloody boat you idiot and make room for people who need to be rescued”.

The in-depth analysis offered by the state broadcaster questioned the ability of “the authorities” to deal with such severe weather events and highlighted the £38million spent on the “failed” flood defences at Carlisle. Presumably they were referring to the Environment Agency and DEFRA who have had government funding reduced at about the same frequency and depth as the uninvited rivers occupying Cumbrian homes every 1,000 years. From his lofty chopper, the BBC`s Science Editor said that “the authorities” had questions to answer and wondered how long the tax-payer would tolerate funding to keep people safe.

Interestingly, the cause of four “once in a 1,000 years freak event” in a decade was never mentioned in any bulletin. By a freak coincidence, the International Conference on Climate Change is still taking place in Paris. Hello..? Anyone listening..?

Even though my living room has not been visited by six feet of water, I am deeply saddened that some of my favourite places are under water yet again. A close pal is in Keswick and she is mercifully safe and well unlike her house and the bridge at Pooley Bridge on the northern end of Ullswater has been washed away. I really liked that 18th century bridge that was just about wide enough for a horse and cart. Spare a thought for the poor sods that have to replace it and, at the same time, the poor sods tasked with fixing the Forth Road Bridge.

Spare a thought also for our “brave” emergency services (you have to call them brave otherwise you are a terrorist sympathiser). They are doing what they do best and that is protecting and saving people. Remember when Cameron said that money was no object when the Thames valley flooded? Now he says that he will “do all he can to help”. Yeah right. He could start by not cutting funding for Fire and Rescue, the Coastguard, the Ambulance Service, the Police and local councils. He could reverse his decision to remove subsidies for renewable energy and stop giving tax breaks to energy companies burning fossil fuels because burning fossil fuels is more profitable to shareholders.

Next year, when the storms become more ferocious, I will vote to name every severe weather event “Storm Dave”.

After via Sharrow Bay Hotel

After via Sharrow Bay Hotel


  1. Given the trail of destruction left by a well-known pornographer, former newspaper owner and media mogul, I thought Desmond a particularly appropriate choice.

    Maybe much-needed cash could be raised for the emergency services by a charged-for telephone vote to name the next storm. Even as I write this, I have a strange feeling that someone deep in the Tory Policy Office is working on it.

    I will definitely get some sandbags in well in advance of storm Georgina.

    I just hope that we get an early warning of storm Theresa and that it will still be possible to get the hell out of here.

    Comment by The Realist — December 7, 2015 @ 10:58 am | Reply

  2. I think if they named the storm Scrappy-Doo, it would be too embarrassed and stop in its tracks.

    Comment by Warthog — December 7, 2015 @ 11:19 am | Reply

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