Saturday, October 22, 2005

In a world without Wilma, what could be worse than a hurricane called "Keith"?

Even I, a card carrying fatalist with a phD in pessimism, take no pleasure from the appalling sequence of natural disasters which has struck the planet over the last few months. As I write, Hurricane Wilma is hovering over Mexico, and pondering an attack on Florida.
Wilma, I'm sure, is a terrible event, but a proper consideration of the hurricane's destructive power is made no easier by its name.
Wilma, to me, will always be the loving wife of Mr Fred Flintstone. Fred, like many men, is a hapless fool, kept on the straight and narrow by the care of the loving Wilma. As The Flintstones takes place in the Stone Age, its attitude to the gender wars is admirably pre-historic; hence, Wilma is a proud housewife, aided in her chores by such labour-saving devices as an elephant vacuum cleaner. As such, Wilma is the dream of all men, though some might plump for Ms Betty Rubble, who is the same, but with dark hair, to Wilma's reddish brunette.
Somehow, I can't see Wilma as a Hurricane. Rita, I think, was more easily imagined, possibly because of my own complicated feelings about Miss Rita Hayworth, and her more domesticated namesake, Coronation Street's Queen of the Kabin, Miss Rita Fairclough. (I understand that Rita's surname is supposed to be Sullivan these days, but she will always be Fairclough to me).
The naming of hurricanes is a peculiar business, with names being drawn from six lists, in which male and female are alternated. (One of the less-celebrated victories of "Women's Lib" was the introduction of male names in 1979.) The desperate nature of these times is indicated by the fact that, for the first time ever, the list of 21 names (the alphabet, minus Q, U, X, Y and Z) has been exhausted in a single season, and the reserve list, the letters of the Greek alphabet, may have to be called into use.
On reflection, many of the approved names have an odd ring to them. This year we have already endured Stan and Tammy, and other years may bring forth the horrors of Wilfred, Barry and Beryl. Sometimes, when a storm has been particularly infamous, a name will be retired, as happened to the surprisingly powerful Keith.
Keith has been replaced by another K, who is scheduled to appear at some time next year. Batten down the hatches, and stock up on the condensed milk: Hurricane Kirk is coming!


Learson said...

In addition to Keith, the hurricane retirement roll includes Floyd. Talk about cooking up a storm.

AK said...

Well I have yet to see a hurrican alan around

also just found your blog from arthur seat, was good to read and will be back for more