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Goodbye, Dear Friend

30 Jun

I was very disheartened to read about the passing of one of my dearest old friends, Lawrence Magnolia, this weekend. My heart goes out to his family as I am sure your hearts go out to me during this difficult period of adjustment.

I last spoke to old Mags just twenty six years ago when we bumped into each other in the lobby of some dilapidated theatre which was showing a revival of our mutual friend’s cabaret show, How Not to Get Kicked When Involved in a Street Fight (the arrangements for which were done by a lovely man whose name I can’t just now recall but whose begonias were amongst the best I’ve ever seen). Lawrence looked resplendent in his corduroy suit, though I remember him remarking that he felt a bit overheated and I think now if I only I had insisted that he go straight to hospital to get that checked out, perhaps he would still be with us today.

I wish I could ring his darling wife Margaret to let her know how I am coping with the loss, but I am afraid I’ve misplaced their phone number and also I have never met her. But my thoughts are with her as I struggle with the knowledge that so many of my friends, people I’ve known and greatly influenced for the better part of my life, are proving to be less hardy than I.

A Rose By Any Other Name

1 Jun

What’s in a name? you may very well ask. In fact, I will pause and wait while you do.

. . .

Now that you’ve asked, apparently “scientists” claim there’s quite a bit in a name. According to some clever clogs in Pennsylvania, boys with common names are less likely to commit crimes than those with less common names. (First let me clarify that as we’re talking about America, common means “more frequently found.” Therefore, a common American name is John Smith, a less common American name is Chucklenuts McGee. In England, I appreciate, common denotes something which would imply a distinction between the names, say, Wayne Rooney and Perciville Wilberforce DeMontford.)

So “science” tells us names can lead one to criminality. What I found quite interesting about this particular research is the selection of bad, uncommon names, particularly Ernest and Ivan. For, in my vast experience of male-female relationships, I have known (biblically) both an Ernest and an Ivan. And, I can assure you, they were far from bad. They were good, quite good, if you can catch the meaning of my drift.

Ernest was a boy from Louisiana whom I met one day in New York City as I was meandering through Central Park Zoo. We were both watching the mini Nubian goat kid being tended to so lovingly by its mother.  Although the zoo was bustling with children (as it so often unfortunately is), it felt like he and I were alone in this scene of nature’s beauty. I turned my delicate face towards his and noticed a single tear making its thoughtful way down the contours of his rugged but not unlickable face. His eyes met mine and, for a moment, we stood in silence, before quickly making our way to the nearest hotel. After, he said his name was Ernest and I felt that there could not have been a more perfect moniker for such a sincere and thoughtful lover. During the week that we spent in each other’s company, I was able to discern, with the help of a UN translator, that he had moved north from the bayou to learn how the big city folk lived and ended up the head of a charity devoted to protecting city pigeons from verbal abuse. My Ernest was not a criminal: he was a generous and compassionate do-gooder, who definitely could do it good.

I didn’t meet my Ivan until much later when I was touring the rugged landscapes of Montana. My expedition was hoping to reach Sacagewea Peak but got stranded without enough provisions. Ivan, as I’m sure you can imagine, was originally from Russia and had come to Bridger Range to do some skiing. He intercepted our calls for help and immediately rushed to our aid. After my group came back down the mountain, I felt I wanted to thank him personally before leaving town. He was staying in a little place near Devil’s Backbone and was delighted to entertain for me for the weekend. A lady, of course, does not like to kiss and tell, but, suffice it to say, the only crimes Ivan committed were against nature but they were so, so forgivable.

This quick, wet trip down memory lane has provided ample evidence to prove that said “scientific” theory about names is tommyrot (unless, I suppose, your name is actually Tommy Rot). In my own life, I have had some run-ins with a few Victorias, but they are definitely the exception which validates the rule that one’s name is of very little consequence as to whether one is likely to be unlawful or legit. No child should be condemned at birth simply because of thebaby-criminal name his parents chose for him. What one makes of oneself is what matters. After all what woman hasn’t met her fair share of bad Johns? And while “scientists” David and Daniel may be sitting pretty in their ivory research laboratories, I personally can testify to knowing at least two Davids currently serving rather long prison terms. I will admit to knowing a Daniel who was completely above board, but he suffered from premature ejaculation so I think I’ve proved my point sufficiently.

The Internet Is Tricking You

19 Feb
Come for the click-bait; stay for the advice.

Come for the click-bait; stay for the advice.

You may have arrived here because you like Benedict Cumberbatch. That’s fine, no reason not to, just because he once refused to share a cab with me, claiming he was allergic to my perfume. I don’t hold grudges; if anything, I pity him if it’s true that he can never enjoy the smell of lilacs (though I wonder if he’d have been so insistent had he known the bottle of scent was given to me by Terence Stamp).

Regardless. Here’s the thing. You won’t find anything here about Benedict Cumberbatch (excluding the anecdote above, obviously). You were led here under false pretenses. Because, my dears, the Internet is lying to you.

I am terribly sorry to be the one to tell you about this.

Now let me ask, what do you think of when you think of the Internet? What visual image appears in that little head of yours? Perhaps it’s a big ‘ol mess of wires connecting countries on a map. Wrong. That’s not the Internet.

Maybe you prefer to think smaller and simply picture your own little device whenever you think of the Internet. I like that you’re keen on synecdoche, but I’m afraid that is not appropriate either.

If you insist on my suggesting a concrete image for you, I’d have to say the Internet is most like a big ass, fire breathing dragon. Not unlike the dragon in those Hobbit films (hold on there, didn’t one Benedict Cumberbatch provide the voice and motion capture for that dragon? Oh my, it looks like I’ve accidentally mentioned that name again!). Anyhoo, get your mind off him for like two minutes of your life, please, and listen up. The Internet is a most specially greedy, strong and wicked worm who is fucking with your head, even as we speak.

Benedict Cumberbatch does not approve of being used like this. Unlike you, he doesn't have any choice.

Benedict Cumberbatch does not approve of being used.

Every time you “log on” to the Internet, you are giving away a little piece of your soul. This most frequently takes the form of your privacy or your self-control. And what’s worse is that the Internet is trying to trick you into believing you want to do this. In most other circumstances (excluding the minds of many high school male athletes), this kind of trickery would be considered criminal coercion. Not so here. The Internet can get you to do most anything it wants you to by almost any means whatsoever (say, by misleading you into believing you’ll learn something new about Benedict Cumberbatch).

It’s a dirty business really, and we should all be ashamed of participating it. I know I’d be ashamed if I weren’t so sure the stats for this blog post will be exponentially higher than any of my previous ones. That’s the thing: at the moment, most of us are pretty happy with the situation. We may lose some things because of it, but we gain others. Yes, our personal details got hacked but we were able to buy something from Target without having to actually go to Target, so it’s swings and roundabouts, isn’t it?

I’m not suggesting you stop using the Internet (in fact, why not subscribe to this blog? I won’t even ask for your mother’s maiden name). I’m not even suggesting you stop telling strangers your mother’s maiden name, if that’s the kind of thing you’re into.

All I’m saying is this: be aware of what’s going on and the role you’re playing. The Internet is using you. Google is aware of that purchase you just made. The NSA knows you. I know they know you because yesterday when we had lunch together, your name came up in the conversation. It’s likely your identity will get stolen, your sex tape made public, or a good year of your life lost to Candy Crush Saga. Tread carefully.

The fact that the dragon’s got a voice that gives you fizzy knickers shouldn’t permit you to forget that ultimately what he wants is your gold. Or your soul. Both of which you should remember are the precious (yes, I know that’s Gollum, but work with me here, people, I’m trying to make a point).

The Willy Wonka of Art: At Warhol’s Factory

28 Oct

A few years ago, a man died in a vat of melted chocolate in Camden, NJ. It happened at the old Campbell’s Soup Factory. It is so sad that factories these days have become symbols of financial distress and confectionery casualties. I remember a time when a factory was a place of passion, beauty, and non-fatal incidents.

As a real mover-and-shaker on the New York scene, I, of course, crossed paths with one Mister Andy Warhol. There was a time in fact where he and I crossed paths on a daily basis as I was living on East 47th Street, and we often bumped into each other as we were nipping down to the store to pick up pints of milk each morning. Our interaction began with just a friendly hello but quickly grew much deeper.  He and I often discussed local news events, the weather, and, before I knew it, the possibility of marriage.

Andy was such a virile man that he literally stank of potency. I remember he once challenged a homeless man to an arm wrestling match, and Andy wiped the floor with the poor veteran (though he generously refused to take his winnings from the man’s Dixie cup). At first this oozing masculinity was appealing (I was between beaux at the time and could have been described as gagging for it), but I must confess I soon tired of watching him bench press bicycles and outrace buses. Andy, sweetheart, I asked him, do you not have any other interests? It was then he confessed that he was working as a part time artist until he was able to bulk up enough to join the middleweight circuit. As I have always been keen to encourage artists, particularly ones hung like a horse, I immediately asked to see some of his work. This is when I first entered his Factory, an oasis of calm in the storm of midtown Manhattan.

And was the place full of characters? Oh yes, indeed it was. I loved many of them and have stayed close with some even to this day.  I was particularly fond of Pope Ondine, who once retrieved a kitten from out of a local park’s mighty oak, and I will forever remember him as a gentle soul. I was also close with Nico, an actress from Alabama who was in New York desperately trying to shed her down-home, plain Jane persona. Many of Andy’s friends were also musicians, and it was at the Factory that I first heard the melodic music of a band called the Velvet Underground.

While I confess that illegal drugs were bountiful in the Factory, I for one never partook. Lou Reed, another abstainer, and I spent many an hour trying to understand the appeal of “getting out of one’s head” when far greater highs could be achieved by simply playing canasta and eating pretzels. There was also a plethora of sexual activity, and this did little to throw water on Andrew’s libido. I generally keep my displays of affection at least semi-private, but Andy was always all over me like white on rice. I tried as hard as I could to remain clothed for most of the time, but the building itself seemed to just encourage lust.  One night while Andy was in the kitchen making sandwiches, I shared a quick kiss with an actor named Joe Dallesandro (who later went on to become a primary school teacher in my hometown of Trenton, NJ). Luckily, Andy never found out because he was a ruthlessly jealous lover and the more time we spent together at the Factory, the more adamant he became about wanting to make an honest woman of me. He told me he dreamt of us growing old together in a farmhouse, surrounded by little Andy’s and shelves full of his boxing trophies, where he could spend his weekends chopping wood, hunting bear and trapping beaver. But I unfortunately wanted more from life and could not grant this wish. We eventually parted ways, but those memories still reside warmly in my heart.

Despite the romantic difficulties, in retrospect, my only real regret about that time was that I never introduced Andy to a good friend of mine named Valerie Solanas, a delightful charmer living in our neighbourhood. She was young and had fallen into that trap that many ladies do of being focused on nothing but finding a man. It’s a shame the two of them never got together because I think there could have been a real love connection between them.LouReedHershey

The experiences I had at Andy’s Factory certainly were more fulfilling and passion-filled than that Camden worker’s; at the same time, though, I imagine they were just as a sweet.

Rest in peace, Lou Reed.

I’m (Not) A Believer

10 Mar

I’m still coming to grips with the loss of my dear friend, Davy Jones. I remember fondly our first meeting; I was just a young girl in high school, busy working on our Prom’s planning committee. As president of the local Davy Jones Fan Club, I was sure I could get him to play the gig. After a series of hilarious hijinks, Davy came through for me and actually accompanied me to the dance. Wait, that wasn’t me, that was Marcia Brady. Nonetheless, his death was a real blow.

So imagine how I felt when I saw this headline this morning:

As you know, I am a fair weather fan of science. Yes, things like electricity are great and all, and I respect most in the medical field, especially whoever it was who invented the pills I can slip into Christopher’s tea whenever he really starts trying my nerves.

But you don’t have to be a supersymmetric quantum mechanics physicist to be able to see that a lot of science is bunk. The world does not need to know at which part of a woman’s menstrual cycle she can most easily identify members of the reptile community—or at least certainly not before science shows us how to beat cancer, create environmentally-safe energy or handle documents with no threat of a paper cut. Perhaps there’s a hierarchy in the science research world of which I am unaware of: maybe the dumbos who somehow manage to get degrees are secreted into labs where they’re given little experiments to conduct to keep them busy while the big boy scientists are out doing important stuff. I don’t know. And confess I also don’t really care.

All I know is that in the last 48 hours, there have been incredibly important things happening in the world—including natural disasters, civil unrest, economic updates and the funeral of a lovely Manc who had beautiful lips—yet the “scientific headline” above was deemed newsworthy?

That said, if those wacky Japanese researchers had got a certain other lovely Manc with beautiful lips to inform me about the ovulation-snake connection this morning, I would have felt less let down by science. Especially if he did so after snuggling up next to me in bed. Then I’d have been willing to throw all my faith (and a surprising amount of early morning stamina) behind modern science.

The World Is A Stage, But The Play Is Badly Cast; This One Won’t Be

6 Jan

Very exciting news! After much negotiation, the local Amateur Dramatic Society has finally secured the rights to the story of my life. Auditions for this much-anticipated production will be in mid-February, so you’re welcome, aspiring actors, for the thoughtful heads up from me. You’ve now got a few weeks to prepare for the role of a lifetime.


Agatha Whitt-Wellington: witty, gorgeous, sophisticated, ageless, seductive but not distastefully so

Mother: brash, loud, unsupportive (complete plucking of eyebrows required)

Father: non-speaking role

Granny “Boots” Wellington: trouser-wearing

Headmaster: diminutive, unaware of how to behave in the presence of genius

Daphne d’Ebriété: elderly, wise, drunk in all scenes

Rupert Stanley Quim: elderly, stumpy, confused

Baron Von Schwarzen Wurst: debonair, accent of unknown origin

HRH Prince William: pre-hair loss

Christopher: good-looking, dependent (some nudity required)

Alice Wintergarden: jealous but ultimately harmless


Lovers #1-45

Admirers #1-22

Arresting Officers #1-4


Jeremy Irons

Competition will be tough: this is an important production and an incredible opportunity to be a part of the life of an amazing woman (that’s not vanity but the words of the judge who ruled on the intellectual property rights case).

After the holidays, I may be willing to give interviews to actors who would like to “get inside my head.”  These will be by appointment-only; interested young men should send photographs and be prepared to run lines, if you know what I mean.

Je Suis Innocent!

19 Jul

Despite what you may have heard in today’s select committee, I was never present at any discussions between Coulson, Cameron and Brooks. A certain flame-haired so-and-so is clearly only dragging my name into the proceedings to make herself appear more likeable by association with such a popular, attractive and clean-as-a-whistle writer as my good self. And the implication that I have locked lips with either of the Murdochs—come on, you know how I feel about Australians!

At this point, I am not likely to get my legal team involved: there are much bigger fish to fry first. I’ve hardly been harmed in the way others have by News Corporation and far be it from me to draw the attention away from the real crimes this soulless organization has committed.

I’m sure the fact that when you click on Rupert Murdoch’s Wikipedia page you are immediately redirected to the Amazon entry for my latest novel is purely a technical hiccup and will be straightened out soon.

The Big Reveal: Why Super-Injunctions Are Pointless

9 May

Here’s the thing about super-injunctions. They’re neither super, in nor at a junction. They make a mockery of freedom of the press and they are proven (scientifically) to be the worst way to keep a secret.

I certainly do not agree with many of the current tactics used by the press, and I find much of the gossip mongering that exists in the world quite distasteful (though, like with caviar, I will admit to engaging in it at times). However, it is much more appropriate to clarify the laws on phone hacking and punish those who have broken the law. I don’t know that we’ll ever be able to change the public’s thirst for gossip, but rich people paying a lot of money to keep their secrets is certainly not going to slow down the desire to know about others’ private lives. In fact, it’s only going to do the opposite.

People love juicy information. If you pay lots of money to keep a secret, ipso facto (look it up), that secret must be pretty damn juicy. That logic isn’t hard to follow.  So in many ways, super-injunctions just make people want to know your secret even more. Plus, once they find it out, they can judge you, not only for the secret itself (and why shouldn’t they, for clearly you are condemning your own behaviour by hiding it), but for the act of gagging the press.

And the thing is: they will find out. A super-injunction may delay it, but, let me assure you, all will be revealed. Adolf Hitler had a hell of a lot of power in his time, but did that stop us from finding out that he was 1. uni-testicular and 2. an occasional partaker in a vegetarian diet? No, that power did not keep his secrets for him.  It might be your own guilt that makes you confess. Maybe an Arabic translator will stumble across the sensational detail next to your name, while going through Osama’s papers. It might even be a careless remark made by your three-year-old child about that time he caught “Daddy doing something unseemly.” The point is: the world’s going to find out eventually.

Therefore, in the interest of encouraging other celebrities to take responsibility for their own behaviour and stop relying on their money to hide it away, I shall confess all my “dirty deeds.” I’m not proud of them (well, not all of them), but I am proud that I have neither abused the legal system to hide them nor consulted Max Clifford to deal with them.

1. Yes, I did sleep with Fidel Castro, but it meant nothing to me nor to the Cuban Missile Crisis.

2. I once paid a prostitute to the leave the area as I was expecting a foreign dignitary for tea and wanted to give the impression that my locale was whore-free.

3. Only 5% of the dancing was mine.

4. I spent some of D.B. Cooper’s money.

5. It was I who let the dogs out.

The Royal Wedding of Him and Her (Live Updates)

29 Apr

8.05            Welcome to my up-to-the-minute coverage of the wedding between The Duke of Cambridge, the Earl of Strathearn, Baron Carrickfergus, and the Duchess of Cambridge, Countess of Strathearn, and Baroness Carrickfergus. I love group weddings; it’s almost like the Moonies.

8.30            Did you hear the guy from Syria’s been uninvited? I’m not sure that’s any less rude than violently cracking down against weeks of pro-democracy demonstrations.

8.40            I have always felt that those who shove in queues should be beaten to death and admire the police’s decision to do so this morning.

8.44            A lot of hats, bordering on an indecent amount of hats. Some ridiculous, some I confess to finding rather fetching. I particularly like the little pink beanies some of the men are wearing. Too cute!

9.09            The chant that greeted Chelsy Davy was just not on.

9.22            David Beckham. He’s lovely.

9.30            Rowan Atkinson’s arrived, pulling a funny face. Oh wait, that’s Tara Palmer-Tomkinson.

9.43            Apparently Boris Johnson’s hair took hours doing.

9.44            Guy Richie?

9.47            Sir Elton John and David Furnish have arrived. Elton’s coiffure is attempting something but failing miserably.

9.48            I’m not sure I’ve ever seen John Major look quite so dashing. Yum-yum!

9.56             I strongly agree with the decision to sit all gingers in a separate area.

10.01            A cheer for Nick Clegg! Or perhaps for Miriam’s saucy attire—her lips match her feathers.

10.02            Ed and Vince. Vince and Ed. Little George Osborne not far behind.

10.03            Samantha Cameron looks quite pretty in a flattering jade dress, carrying an orange wrap. A shame she had to spoil it with her date.

10.14            I don’t think screams at a wedding are ever really appropriate, regardless of who is attending or how fancy pants their tour bus is.

10.16            Now, that’s one hell of a car the Princes are in.

10.18            Here come the bells.

10.19            Prince William is in the house: whoop whoop, as the kids say.

10.20           Those who think the Royals’ lives are unfairly easy should remember that tragedies like thinning hair can strike anyone. Nature is blind to pageantry.

10.22           The red coat, blue sash and gold doohickeys are alright, I guess. But I’m not keen on the red stripe down the trousers. At least he ignored Harry’s suggestion to also wear red shoes.

10.24           I wonder who was the first to say “Someone’s getting laid tonight” to Wills this morning.

10.27           I don’t care what cool cucumbers some of these posh-os think they are. You know they must be peeing themselves over all this.

10.28           I like the four matching silver mini-buses. They’re titchy, like little toy cars, carrying little toy people.

10.36           Who taught these people how to walk?

10.37            Three arrests at the street party on my road. Apparently, letting off fireworks outside an old couple’s home should have waited until after the nuptials.

10.40           I bet Tony Blair’s having a little cry. I know Barack Obama isn’t.

10.42           Beatrice and Eugenie—no, no, and no.

10.44           This must surely remind Prince Charles of his own weddings. The incredibly exciting one, plus that time the other one got canceled because the Pope up and died.

10. 48          I don’t care what people say. The Queen is still a right royal knockout and you know it. She looks like a stunning little canary. Wearing a hat. And a brooch. And carrying a handbag.

10.50           Awkward kiss between the Duke of Edinburgh and Camilla. But I suppose it would have been more upsetting if it had been natural, like something they did all the time.

10.54          Here comes the bride! I can confirm she is wearing her hair and a white dress. I really don’t know what all the fuss was about. What else would she be wearing?

10.55         Any commentator who says something about Kate’s ability to wave is first against the wall, come the revolution.

10.59          You gotta say one thing about the royals: they know how to keep to a timetable.

11.00          I’m not too proud to admit she looks pretty. But I know, in his heart of heart, Wills prefers a bustier woman.

11.04          Searches for Sarah Burton have now crashed the internet.

11.08          If this is William’s first view of his bride’s dress, I’m sure he think it’s beautiful.  Harry is thinking, “What’s up with her eyebrows?”

11.11           Oh, England, you and your hymns. I do love you so.

11.13          Marriage was ordained for the increase of mankind. Ooh, sexy.

11.14          I won’t say a word. I will forever hereafter hold my peace. Damn, Will’s not said anything either.

11.16          For richer, for poorer. Good one.

11.17          I don’t mean to seem a downer, but let’s remember that Charles and Diana said all these words as well.

11.18         Wow, he’s going to give her his troth, honour her with his body and share all his worldly goods? Jackpot!

11.20         William’s just made the biggest mistake of his life. Congratulations to the happy couple!

11.24          Grab a pew, now for the boring stuff.

11.29          To kill some time, let’s look at some new wedding-related tweets:

Halcruttenden All these beautiful people have just made me realise that the idea of monarchy is right. They’re just better than us.

mfhorne There is literally NOWHERE for Harry to have a sneaky Fatty Boombatty.

mrchrisaddison Queen has a tartan blanket over her knees in that car.

Therealdavelamb No wonder the father of the bride’s sweating, this must be costing him a fortune.

StephenAtHome At the Royal Wedding. Crap, I’m wearing the same thing as Camilla.

RufusHound They need to hurry it along, the photographer has another wedding to do at 12

RobinCooperEsq Don’t forget tomorrow is the royal wedding everybody

11.39         Oh boy, they composed their own prayer. Nicely written—concise yet ultimately meaningless, as all good prayers should be.

11.37         Those little boys have no idea that this will be the last greatest moment of their lives.

11.46         I like the idea of marriage as “such an exquisite mystery.” Sounds so much better than “the beginning of the end.”

11.47         Oh, “Jerusalem,” you bring me such joy. There is nothing better than you. Except maybe marrying Prince William. But alas, it wasn’t meant to be. So I rejoice at the song of England’s green and pleasant land.

11.52        What goes through Charles’s head when he hears “God Save Our Gracious Queen”? And I don’t know about you, but it seems weird that Prince Philip sings it as well. Man, she must really hold that over him at times.

11.56         I thought it was supposed to rain today. Wow, they really do have God looking after them.

12.10        Yes, put the gloves on. One mustn’t wave to paupers without wearing gloves.

12.13        The wedding ceremony ends as all wedding ceremonies do: a bunch of old people in fancy dress struggling to get into horse-drawn carriages. We’ve all been there, done that.

12.15         The deed is done. There’s nothing more to see here. Move along and back to your regular lives.

Riders on the Storm

4 Sep

I just got off the phone with a friend in Martha’s Vineyard. Yesterday, they had hunkered down in preparation for the bad weather, but Earl was eventually downgraded to a minor hurricane. This is good news for everyone but reporters, as I know there is nothing they enjoy more than doing those dramatic, “at the scene” updates.

You may remember not long ago a tropical storm named Agatha which wreaked havoc in Central America. At the time I was deluged with emails from fans, asking if the storm had been named after me. I do not believe this to be so.  Wikipedia described Agatha as “weak and catastrophic” whereas I—as you know by now yourselves, dear readers—am a violent and terrifying force for good.

Because we humans take issue with things we can’t control, it scares the living bejesus out of us when we think about the potential destruction natural events can cause and the very little we can do to stop them. Therefore, we devised a policy of giving these events people’s names: by portraying them as just “one of us,” it’s easier to convince ourselves they’re not so powerful.

This is why originally bad weather was only given women’s names. After all, no decent, hard-working Joe in the 1950s could be afraid of little ol’ Tropical Storm Cindy-Lou, now could he?  Of course, the bra burners eventually put a stop to this, and ever since 1978, names from both genders have been used.

How exactly the names are chosen is a closely guarded secret, known only to the staff of the World Meteorological Organization and to myself, owing to the fact that a few years back I met a member of the WMO who felt that revealing this secret to me outside of his hotel would convince me to join him upstairs in his room (it did not, once in the cab was surely enough). Given that this man has recently passed away (well, he’s brain dead so he’s as good as), I feel I can now reveal some of the mysteries associated with these names.

Hurricane Audrey 1957

This hurricane was inspired by Audrey Hepburn, who lost out on the starring role in Gigi, which went into production that year and won the Best Picture Oscar in 1958. The man who named it this thought he might be in with a chance with the beautiful actress by honoring her in this way; however, one of her biographers revealed that she had been appalled when she learned of it and had had ordered the man killed. He was subsequently found shot, execution-style, in the rear parking lot of the Brown Derby. Rumours persist to this day that Desi Arnez was the trigger man.

Hurricane Agnes 1972

When most of Americans think of the most important event of 1972, they don’t think of the Olympics or the Chicago commuter rail crash or the ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment or anything related to the Vietnam War. For them, 1972 was all about the end of the television show Bewitched and therefore that year’s most devastating hurricane was given the name Agnes as a tribute to the wonderful and tastefully costumed actress, Agnes Moorehead.

Hurricane Hugo 1989

There’s a heartwarming story behind the naming of this storm. One of the head meteorologists had just celebrated his fiftieth birthday and to mark this milestone in his life, he decided to finally embrace the homosexual tendencies which he had spent most of his life (except for a few weeks at summer camp) denying. He gave this year’s hurricane the name Hugo, as he claimed it was Warhol’s Polaroid of Victor Hugo which had sent him over the edge. Bless.

Hurricane Dennis 1995

Due to the fact that families were finally realising that Dennis is perhaps the most feeble name on the planet, one unfortunately named fellow at the WMO hoped that giving this hurricane his own ridiculous moniker would lead to more babies being called Dennis. Thankfully, his plan backfired and the name finally died out permanently when this man took his own life in 1997.

Hurricane Floyd 1999

Hurricane Wilma 2005

Hurricane Katrina 2005

Because they knew this one was going to be a doozy, the WMO decided that by associating the storm with one of the world’s most cheerful songs (“Walking on Sunshine”) by Katrina and the Waves (get it?), those who had to deal with the devastation might cheer up a bit. This did not work out as planned.

Hurricane Ike 2008

I’m afraid I do not know the story behind this year’s Earl. I’m sure it’s meaningful to some weather freak somewhere.

Whatever one calls it, a hurricane is nothing to sneeze at. I myself have first hand experience of such a storm. In August of 1995, I was on the coast of North Carolina, vacationing with a dear friend. News came that we were to evacuate the island immediately, due to Hurricane Felix. My companion and I spent a terrified few hours trapped in the back of a car, stuck in the traffic jam on the bridge that led to the mainland. I was desperately trying to update my last will and testament while my friend was weeping over whether or not he would ever see his wife and children again. Luckily, of course, we survived as the storm remained offshore in North America, though I do believe the event was the cause of the rather abrupt end of our friendship. How can damage like that be measured in dollars, I ask?

Of course, that sad truth is that whether a storm is named after a beautiful woman or a respectable man, the effect it has is out of the hands of mere humans. All we can do is board up our windows and hope that we won’t need to rely on governmental bodies to help us clean up the mess. This is an important lesson to keep in mind and, indeed, perhaps a most fitting metaphor for our most intimate relationships.

I’m glad my friend and his property are safe for the moment. Behind Earl is Tropical Storm Fiona, who may not even make it to hurricane status. Let us pray that the season ends soon; if it doesn’t, the storms will be called Gaston, Hermine and Igor, and, without meaning to cause offense, those are bloody stupid names.