i Editor's Letter: An ill wind


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The Independent Online


Of all the weather phenomena we experience in the UK, I think I dislike high winds more than any other. Rain can be good for the garden. Sun can be good for morale. But a gale is always destructive, often dangerously so.

I sometimes wonder whether – with our double-glazed windows and air-conditioned cars – we have become a bit spoilt as regards extreme weather. Anything outside a temperate norm seems to take us by surprise, provoking a kind of fear-filled resentment. Snow? In winter? Heatwave? In summer? How very dare it!

On the other hand, perhaps this is the result of a primitive instinct we've never quite managed to suppress. We may rush to the office window to gawp at a particularly severe downpour or hailstorm these days, rather than sacrifice to the weather gods, but deep down, I suspect there still lurks an atavistic reverence for a force that can wreak so much havoc.

Listening to the sound of the wind banging and crashing around my house yesterday was unsettling. It was easy to see how legends grew up about weather demons (the name hurricane comes from Huracan, the Mayan god of wind and storm).

At the time, I thought I was being a bit of a wimp, but when I looked out at the garden and saw trees bent double in the gale, then read about the injuries, power cuts and general storm misery that was being inflicted across the country, I decided it might be a rather prudent reaction. As the comedian Bob Hope once remarked about playing golf in a thunderstorm: "If I'm on the course and lightning starts, I get inside fast. If God wants to play through, let him."

Anyway, this morning, according to the forecast (see page 44), the winds should have blown themselves out and an area of high pressure will start to build over the UK. To you and me, that means sunshine. It's an ill wind ...