All hail Caledonia!
Today has been spent on my sickbed, in the company of Twitter, staying safe and cosy and up to date with the Big Storm of 2011, which thanks to some wit out there, somewhere will forever be known as Hurricane Bawbag.
Freelance writer and journalist Audrey Gillan was getting the
blame kudos early on but she denies being its originator. Whoever was responsible, it quickly captured imaginations and was trending globally at one point.
It is at times like these that social media platforms like Twitter demonstrate their reach, relevance and entertainment factor. Not least because of everyone’s willingness to spread the word by retweeting important and not so important messages.
It’s how I found out this morning that Edinburgh would be closing its schools at noon today. It’s how I was able to alert a twitter pal in another area that very late in the day, her council’s schools would also be closing. It’s how I was able to alert the office that Lothian and Borders police was warning people not to travel after 2pm so they could decide to send everyone home.
As a force and power for good, it’s enabled police forces, the Scottish Government, public bodies, local authorities, media outlets and emergency services to get the word out about problems promptly.
But it’s also managed to get the “human interest” stories out. Like the photos of the exploding wind turbine in Ayrshire. The film clip of the escaping trampoline. Of poor Aberdeen’s collapsed Christmas lights. And the rising water levels on the Clyde in the centre of Glasgow.
And then there’s been the patter merchants who come into their own at such times. Comedians like Gary Tank (@GARYTANK) and Susan Calman (@susancalman) tweeting funnies all day long. And less well-known twitter folk whose creativity has had folk giggling all day. Like this from Eric Hamilton (@coilleduine) BREAKING:
#scotstorm is rated as “awfally blowie” on the Wee Wifie scale. The WW scale runs from “huffin” tae “haud oantae ma breeks”. Or this from Andrea Gillies (@andreagillies) #HurricaneBawbag is arriving in Edinburgh, along with Glasgow wheelie bins, surprised looking small dogs and street-corner newspaper vendors. And of course, some enterprising craitur designed and marketed appropriately-emblazoned T shirts.
It’s just a shame that the mainstream media – with the honourable exception of Eddie Mair on Radio 4’s PM programme – have shied away from using the unofficial moniker for the big Scottish winter storm. Editors have a lot to answer for.
But hat tip to @SeanBattyTV for keeping everyone informed on storm developments, since yesterday in fact. And also to @metofficescot who are now issuing “yellow alerts” for snow and blizzards up north. Both are essential follows (if you tweet) at the moment and of course, both do also have websites.
#hurricanebawbag has caused serious disruption – is causing serious disruption – but hopefully most people have heeded all the advice and tweets and are tucked up at home with their loved ones. Some are complaining about an over-reaction from the authorities: they’d be as quick to complain if nothing had been done and lives were put at risk. Better safe than sorry I reckon.
There are trees down, homes without power, roads blocked, other transport forms disrupted. And there’s more to come this weekend when the temperatures drop and the snow hits. If you have elderly neighbours, don’t forget to look in on them and check they have something warm and nourishing to eat at least.
But mostly, rejoice in being safe and warm, and liberally informed and entertained by the way in which Scotland embraced adversity and #hurricanebawbag.