At the time of writing, we’ve had 10 named storms this season; a record, which, I suspect, will soon be surpassed due to global warming.
The latest storm was named Jocelyn in recognition of world-renowned physicist Dame Jocelyn Bell Burnell. Whilst working as a postgraduate student in 1967, she made one of the most significant scientific discoveries of the 20th century when she discovered the first radio pulsars.
Born in Lurgan, I don’t believe Dame Jocelyn has received the recognition she deserves. I stated in this column back in June 2020 it was a disgrace she hadn’t been memorialised at home for her amazing achievement.
I suppose naming a storm after her is some form of acknowledgement. I’d prefer if we replaced one of the many statues of long-forgotten military men of Empire around Belfast City Hall with a statue of Dame Jocelyn.
The Dark Hedges – which gained worldwide fame after they featured in Game of Thrones - became somewhat less dark following the storms, after several of the trees succumbed to the high winds.
I doubt the wood from the fallen trees will go to waste as I’m sure some entrepreneur will turn it into small wooden swords to be sold online to obsessive fans of the show. If that hasn’t already happened, I’m sure it will now; if it does, I expect to be gifted either one of the swords or a cut of the profits for coming up with the idea.
I doubt I was the only one who welcomed the storms after a spell of icy weather. I’ve reached an age where ice has stopped being fun and transmogrified into a thing of horror. Long gone are the days when slipping resulted in bouncing onto my posterior followed by much hilarity. These days I don’t bounce, I break.
I doubt the wood from the Dark Hedges’ fallen trees will go to waste as I’m sure some entrepreneur will turn it into small wooden swords to be sold online to obsessive Game of Thrones fans. If that hasn’t already happened, I’m sure it will now; if it does, I expect to be gifted either one of the swords or a cut of the profits for coming up with the idea.
No doubt due to my aged memory, I somehow always forget this fact and found myself up Cavehill on one of last week’s coldest days. Halfway up or halfway down - depending on whether you’re an optimist or pessimist - I felt my foot slip for the first time. Instantly, a nauseating shudder of recognition surged through my body, and I thought, “What the hell were you thinking, you oul eejit?”
I only fell twice and luckily, on both occasions, it was onto the cushioning caress of still-buoyant heather. Luckily nobody saw my humiliation, no doubt due to the fact everyone else had the wit to be indoors in front of the fire rather than slipping down a frozen hill.
My two dogs not only saw my falls but, by the look on their faces, took pleasure in them. They’d been reluctant to venture out but handcuffed to me via their leads, they’d no choice but to acquiesce to my madness.
Following many similar experiences, I’ve come to view ice as a condemned man does the gallows. On its first mention by Barra Best, I throw so much salt around the house that, if the dogs stood still for too long, they’d be in danger of mummification.
I’ve come to view ice as a condemned man does the gallows. On its first mention by Barra Best, I throw so much salt around the house that, if the dogs stood still for too long, they’d be in danger of mummification.
But even this didn’t help last week when I ventured out to open the front gates. I suspect I was overconfident due to the amount of salt I’d deposited the previous night but whatever the reason, I strode out without my usual care or caution.
Thankfully I’d grasped the gates just as my shoes lost grip and I began what can only be described as a manic form of jigging. As my left foot went forward, I vainly tried to readjust, only to find my right foot wanted to go backwards. Once this foot was stabilised, the other one decided it was time to have some fun, moving sideways at some velocity.
Of course, I should have given in and allowed gravity to take its course, but my ego wouldn’t accept this. Instead, I doubled down and what had been a slow jig turned into what must have appeared like a speeded-up clip from a Laurel and Hardy film.
Eventually my involuntary yelps resulted in both my wife and children appearing – my wife and son immediately produced their phones and began recording, whilst only my daughter came to my aid. Don’t bother trying to find their clips as after a short but animated conversation, I explained the horrific consequences if anything they’d filmed appeared online.
As storms multiply, I suggest we start giving them comforting names like Bertha or Cuthbert... or Jake. Until then, I’m off to buy more salt.