What's in a name?

orange lightning in a cloudy sky
Creative Director, Martin Walton explores the way we humanise nature and explains why Greta Thunberg is a personal hero. 

What’s in a name?

In recent weeks if that name was Ciara or Dennis, the answer is death, destruction and misery.

With all of this enforced time at home indoors and thumb-twiddling not my forte, I started to think about why we give storms human names. I mean, what is it like for all the Dennises and Ciara’s to have to sit there and watch as this elemental force is busy trashing a hitherto calm and peaceful reputation?

Apparently, the Met Office have a list of names for storms that come off of the Atlantic with an amber or red warning that are in alphabetical order and alternate their gender, so Ellen and Francis – you’re next I’m afraid!

The reason we humanise storms like this is so that people will take note more and perhaps take precautions if they think a bogeyman’ is coming, rather than something scientific like Storm A‑154G. If you’re unlucky enough to share your name with one of these blustery buggers, feel reassured that you’re taking one for the team.

Tell that to all the Katrina’s, whose name has tanked in popularity in recent years according to the Huffington Post. Before 2005 Katrina was the 254th most popular – these days, it ranks at around the 2750 mark. Take heart though that there is still some way to go before you hit the lows of a certain name that ceased being popular around 1945. Even now, I clearly can’t bring myself to write it down.

One name that has taken the world by storm if you like, is Greta. Thunberg to be more exact. Or Greta Tintin Eleonora Ernman Thunberg if you want to be precise. Yes, I did just say Tintin.

Or maybe it’s just Sharon these days if you follow her on Twitter. Plenty of people do.

Greta is a personal hero it has to be said. Her Ted talk about climate change and fossil fuels that she delivered back in 2018 still moves me to tears. How can one so young be so wise? Seventeen years old and taking on the U.N. and assorted World leaders, but most astonishing, able to mobilise millions of children around the world to put down the remote for the X‑Box and take part in the School Strike for Climate by setting an example that clearly resonated.

Perhaps giving an extreme weather event a human name is not such a bad thing. Maybe it’s also a reminder that if we want to change things we don’t like, we have a personal responsibility to act.

So, what’s in a name? I guess it’s all about how we behave and what people call us behind our back rather than to our front.

And having parents with a sense of humour enough to call you Tintin, it comes as no surprise to me that Greta is also an anagram of great. Here’s hoping…