Storms 2024: Jocelyn and Isha keep leaving Doritos packets on my doorstep - Gaby Soutar

I don’t want to minimise the chaos that Jocelyn and Isha have caused. After all, I’ve seen people on X, sharing that fellow passengers on flights were crying and praying, as their planes were buffeted about and eventually redirected to airports miles away from their planned destination.

Trains have been cancelled, trees felled, journeys postponed, and January has been made even more miserable than usual.

This doesn’t sound like the fault of such benign-ly named forces. But I guess the Met Office convention, which we’ve had for about nine years now, is a bit idiosyncratic.

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If you’re not au fait, then most storms are named after someone who helps the public to cope with adverse weather conditions.

A woman holds a red umbrella on a fishing pier during a storm.A woman holds a red umbrella on a fishing pier during a storm.
A woman holds a red umbrella on a fishing pier during a storm.

Isha was the ninth of the winter season, which started back in September 2023. Its name was chosen by the public, which you may think might have resulted in it being called Stormy McStormface. Instead someone suggested the Hindu word for, ironically, ‘one who protects’, and they went for that.

The astrophysicist, Jocelyn Bell Burnell, who discovered the first radio pulsars in 1967, was the inspiration for the storm that immediately followed, and has now fortunately petered out.

I guess it’s an honorific, like stars and diseases getting the surnames of those who discovered them. If I’d made anything of my life, then maybe there would be a Soutar Virus spreading right now, or the Soutar Comet might be preparing to hit the earth.

Sounds pretty scary, though Storm Gaby does not.

Indeed, when they should surely have names like Zeus, Warhammer and Godzilla, we have had previous storm warnings for the likes of Debi and Nicholas, who sound like a nice couple in the accounts department.

To suit the alphabetical order, the next storm will be Kathleen. I knew one of those once. It’s not going to be pretty.

If an amber or red warning is impending later in 2024, we will eventually have a Minnie, named for pesky Beano character Minnie the Minx.

Sadly, we’ve passed the point of getting a Gnasher. Maybe anthropomorphising stops us from panicking.

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For instance, you don’t worry about Debi, whereas, if Storm Thunderboots was en-route, you’d draw up a spreadsheet for end-of-days planning and start stock-piling baked beans in the cellar.

Anyway, I think we all like the names Isha and Jocelyn a tiny bit less after the past few weeks. I don’t think there will be any of them on the birth register this year. (Incidentally, when I once worked at a library, we had a member called Jocelyn Bottoms, and she never returned a book late).

Still, round my parts, though they’ve dominated every conversation, the storms have been utter pests, more than anything.

They’re like Mogwais that someone has fed after midnight. For one thing, the noise of their clattering has kept me awake.

I also feel bad for the birds in the garden, as, when they get a tailwind, it’s like they have jetpacks on.

The most nefarious thing that’s happened to me is that Jocelyn has rearranged my tenement roof. Earlier in the week, a few essential pieces landed in the back garden, and the slates now resemble a moth-eaten patchwork quilt.

Otherwise, the storms are like cats, leaving regular gifts on my doorstep. Except it’s not mice or birds.

I live near a primary school, and Jocelyn and Isha have been directing all the playpiece empties to my doorstop.

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How many packets of Doritos in Chilli Heatwave flavour are these children eating? Trillions. I’m surprised they’re not glowing, like the Ready Brek kids of the Eighties. The same with Pombears, which must be the favourite crisps among the younger kids, and there are always Starburst wrappers of all varieties.

Even the BabyBel shells and weightier empty yoghurt pots make it along the street to my front door, plus all the vape paraphernalia, which I will return to the back of the bikesheds.

I have invested in one of those litter-picking gadgets, because I don’t like touching all the clarty detritus.

Perhaps Jocelyn is trying to do one good thing in her brief, but windy existence by asking me to get on the Jamie Oliver-esque kids eating healthily bandwagon. There might be another column on that, don’t you worry.

As far as other minor storm infraction tales go, my friend’s garden trampoline went missing a few years ago, courtesy of Storm Dudley, and they still haven’t found it. The storms take with one gust, but they give with another.

Once, on a posh Edinburgh New Town street, I found a mummified cat that had presumably blown off the roof and onto the pavement in the storm. Poor Pharaoh Tiddles. I wondered how long he’d been up there, slowly desiccating while his owners gave up the search and moved on.

Anyway, those were pre-storm-naming days, when bad weather didn’t need branding.

More recently, I watched a young woman in my street open a beautiful umbrella – rainbow-striped and shaped like a bell tent, with a curved handle. I was walking behind her, but mouthed a slow-motion ‘noooo’, as the rain started and she opened it, only for the brolly to immediately flap inside out.

What an amateur.

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You should wear hats and hoods in severe weather like this. Tie your clothes on with Sellotape and strings.

As someone smug once said: “There’s no such thing as bad weather, only inappropriate clothing.” Tell my roof that.



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