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Ken Fyne: What’s in a name as Franklin makes way for Gladys

The Millennium Dome was a controversial use of taxpayers' money when it was constructed.
The Millennium Dome was a controversial use of taxpayers' money when it was constructed.

Are you still surviving after Storms Arwen, Barra, Malik, Corrie, Dudley, Eunice and Franklin have battered us like an increasingly pricey chip-shop haddock?

Fyne Place still has a roof, thankfully, unlike London’s O2 arena, formerly the £700million Millennium Dome, ripped open like a bag of crisps in the hands of a hungry teenager.

It’s hardly surprising considering it was basically a hugely expensive tent. Anyone who has camped in north Scotland in a gale will recognise the ominous sound of ripping canvas.

The damage to the 02 arena can clearly be seen after storm Eunice.
The damage to the 02 arena can clearly be seen after storm Eunice.

Perhaps they should have binned it years ago, like those cheap tents abandoned after any music festival.

Back then, there was a political storm over why so much taxpayers’ Millennium funding went into a daft white elephant in London rather than benefiting the whole country.

Maybe another hurricane will deal it a fatal blow.

Giving the next UK storm to arrive the name Gladys seems somewhat awkward, though. Try as I might, I just can’t associate something as fiendishly fierce as a brutal storm with anyone called Gladys.

According to the Office For National Statistics, Gladys was in the top 20 baby names in 1904 but has all-but disappeared nowadays.

A couple of years ago, just three baby girls were named Gladys. Lucky them.

That said, when I was at school, my best pal’s attractive young mum was called Gladys and you couldn’t meet a more energetic, fun person. She’s no longer with us, sadly, but I was glad to have known her.

Gladys Knight is one of a handful of well-known people called Gladys.

There are certain moments in our lives which, despite all the sophisticated science available to us, no one has ever been able to tie down to specifics. For example, exactly what age do you need to be before your hand reaches for the radio dial to turn off Radio One forever and tune instead to Radio Two?

When is the precise moment you decide that broccoli can be tasty, that Jaffa Cakes are smaller than before, that your nose is more likely to run than your legs and that growing a beard – generally men’s – might offset one’s thinning thatch?

Is stout underwear now more comfortable than a thong and flatties preferable to – generally women’s – stilettos?

If you think rap music is rubbish and that your bladder is half the size it used to be, you’re approaching, or have perhaps passed, the age when narrow waists and broad minds change places.

Similarly, when did you start thinking the long-running TV sitcom Last of the Summer Wine was actually funny? Perhaps you never did, but during these dark gale-lashed winter evenings I’ve watched some episodes now being repeated. They make me smile, but any impulse to laugh out loud is serially crushed by the conscience-pricking commercial breaks.

Was Last of the Summer Wine ever actually funny?

I don’t have an 0ver-50s plan and for now, looking forward to a cheap fuss-free cremation isn’t top of my wish-list.

It’s hard to enjoy teatime while being confronted with the plight of girls/donkeys/water supplies/bears and elephants, white or otherwise, in countries far from our own.

This past week, one such advert alerted me to the desperate plight of the pangolins. I’m ashamed to say I’d never previously heard of them.

Pangolins, or scaly anteaters, live in Africa and Asia and are the most trafficked mammal on the planet. They’re now critically endangered by humans. They are fascinating creatures and deserve protection from those who seem bent on eradicating them from our world.

When threatened, pangolins curl into a tight ball relying on their scales for protection, a bit like NATO when Mad Vlad decided to render parts of sovereign Ukraine extinct, too.

As I write this, Russian troops are rolling into Ukraine’s south-eastern Donbas region. By the time you read this, who knows what our reaction will be.

Russian President Vladimir Putin?
Just what is the end game for Russian President Vladimir Putin?

During the Second World War, facing another aggressor, Winston Churchill and Arthur “Bomber” Harris each turned to the Bible for a quote. Both said: “They have sown the wind; now they shall reap the whirlwind.”

Back then, we often relied on Hurricanes to defend our freedom. Today, Typhoons from Lossiemouth are doing much the same.

If we worried about the impact of Storm Gladys, the current vicious Storm Vladys might make the past few painfully destructive months seem like a breeze.

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