Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Double Whammy

It is funny how some phrases can sneak up on you and become part of the stock of your vocabulary without you realising it. Take "double whammy": the dictionaries can quite clearly trace the development of the phrase in the 1940s and 1950s in the USA, but they can't identify exactly when it crept into the understanding of a old, fat bloke in Yorkshire who has never seen a baseball game or read the Li'l Abner comic strip. Now, however, the phrase is a part of my everyday life and perfectly meets my needs when describing certain situations.

Half my immediate family live in the British Virgin Islands, and a couple of weeks ago I wrote about my concern for their safety following hurricane Irma, and the longer-term impact on the wonderful islands they call home. Most of the rest of my closest family live on the Caribbean island of Dominica, and what I didn't realise when I wrote that earlier post was that hurricane Maria was about to do to that island what Irma did to the BVI.  Many of you will know my brother Roger from the frequent comments he leaves on this blog, and for six days there was no news of his, and his family's,  safety following a direct hit by Maria. I only learned of his safety on Sunday, and although he is safe, the island has suffered almost unimaginable damage.

Just like baseball and Li'l Abner, I have no experience at all of the terrible destructive power of hurricanes (in these parts we call it a strong wind if it can blow a bit of soot out of an old mill chimney). What I do know, however, is that if we sit back and forget about the ongoing plight of all those people who have been affected by Harvey and Irma and Maria, if we imagine that now the winds have stilled life can immediately go back to normal, then we will be translating a double whammy into a triple whammy.


  1. Things certainly have been horrible lately. Even many of the survivors are faced with the tremendous task of rebuilding. So glad your family members have all escaped personal injury. I shudder to think of what many of them are in for in terms of what they'll have to do next.

  2. Glad they're safe at least, though by no means out of the wood yet. It looks as if it will take a good while to restore anything approaching normality.

  3. Thank goodness your family is safe. You named it, the double whammy is the immediate crisis, and then there's the even harder daily one of continually dealing with the remains of the storms. I'm sad that our news only covers disasters...a new one every day, but doesn't say much about the humanitarian efforts to help each other, and the hard grind of surviving that part of a disaster.

  4. Very good news to hear your brother and family are safe. Disasters can too easily become personal with so many global families today. Last month on our grand western holiday my son took us to a beautiful waterfall in Oregon along the Columbia River. Just a few weeks later the same place was consumed in a great wildfire. Nature has very dark powers.

  5. Many things in the UK seem pretty dark just now but I think we should all be grateful our weather is so mild in general. I'm glad to know that Roger and family have survived the initial disasters but I worry that they, along with so many others, may find that getting back to "normal" will take a very long time indeed. And I think the hurricane season is not over yet? Finger crossed.


Black Friar

For a time, during the late 1970s, I had a job leading parties of foreign visitors on tours of historic London pubs. One of my favourite sto...