It was supposed to be the storm to end all storms. A country under siege. A big city on lock down. And then a few trees fell down, along with some scaffolding. I can hear the laughter from Miami, Houston, New Orleans and New York passing through on its way to Britain already.
We Brits love the weather. We are obsessed by it. So when a ‘storm’ hits, be it snow, rain, or in this case wind, we get excited/go into meltdown at the same moment. This time it was even given a name, presumably so we can fit in when reminiscing about storms with people from around the world. “Ours had a name too, you know. It was called St Jude.” Wait, really. St Jude. To me St Jude is a children’s hospital in Tennessee, not an area of high wind passing through on its way to oblivion. Maybe this was the point. Give the ‘storm’ a nice name and people won’t be too scared. Instead you could just explain this is not a hurricane, a tornado, a derecho. It is, put simply, gale force winds for a few hours.
Technically it was also deadly, as four people (so far) have been killed due in some part to the high winds. Also a number of trains have been cancelled. This will no doubt lead to some poetic license with newspaper headlines and columns today and tomorrow. In a copycat move likened to The Weather Channel during a big hurricane, news channels sent reporters out to south coast beaches for live shots of waves wreaking havoc, whipping up the audience into a frenzy right up until the point when a man walking his dog in the background ruined the narrative.
I’ll give this ‘storm’ some kudos for its timing, however, given that today marks the opening of a media phone-hacking trial, beginning with jury selection. You remember, the ones involving Rupert Murdoch’s head honcho in the UK Rebekah Brooks, former government press man Andy Coulson, and other News International employees. Now here’s a proper storm brewing. It may, again, not quite be the storm to end them all, but in the media’s case it may come close.