The kid is coming.

What’s stronger than a thousand men?
More violent than a Tarantino movie?
Windier than the curry mile?

Since we moved here, the myth of El Niño has spread faster than a Californian wildfire.

El Niño will bring extreme weather conditions – torrential rain, flooding, even cyclones.

It will take a penny but never leave one.
It will say rude words in public.
It will leave the toilet seat up.

Depending on which news network you follow, it’s so powerful it will either rip the roof off your house, or whip the remote control right out of your hand. I’m not sure which outcome Americans fear most.

When people talk about it, it’s done in a hushed undertone. El Niño is the bad boy at school that the girls whisper about, and the other boys watch out over their shoulder for.

The other day while I waited at traffic lights I squirted screen wash on my windscreen, and some of the fluid hit the windscreen of the car behind me. In my rear view mirror, I could see the driver craning his head up to the sky and squinting his eyes for signs of impending disaster.

The thing is, the legend has grown and now that I’ve heard so much about it, “El Niño” has become a trigger. If someone even mentions it, I shudder, picture the frogs scene in Magnolia, and change into the emergency pair of pants I carry around with me.

Alex has taken a more measured approach, and put together the world’s crappest survival box, consisting of bottled water, tea bags, a flashlight, and a first aid kit. My guess is she’s planning to boil the water by shining a torch on it.

I’ve since added the essentials – tortilla chips, salsa, and a bottle of Jamesons – so we’re all set for El Niño’s wrath. Or a bloody good afternoon.

In the UK we give our hurricanes friendly names because we don’t like to make a fuss, and because we’re used to crap weather, all year round. Just a couple of months ago, the UK was hit by Storm Abigail. Which sounds more like a British porn star than a dangerous weather front to me.

Here’s the full list of UK storms for 2015/2016; names were put forward by the British public:

Met Office storm names
Hurricane Nigel, for fuck’s sake! It honestly doesn’t get any more British than that.


But this is America. Land of the free, Mr T and Duck Dynasty. No self-respecting storm can have a name like Desmond.

No, it needs more edge. It should be dark, brooding, sinister. This is the fifth time since 2000 that it’s returned to wage war against sun-worshipping Californians. It’s an evil that won’t take no for an answer.

Why not give it a Spanish name? Things sound more mysterious that way.

Take Antonio Banderas, for example. Translate his name into English, and you get “Anthony Bunting”. I know which name I’d rather have.

“El Niño” translates as “the kid”, or “the boy child”. Apparently this particular weather phenomenon was first seen in the month of December. And what do you know – Jesus showed up in December too. So they put one and one together, and called the storm “the kid”.

Here’s what Americans think El Niño looks like:


And here’s what El Niño actually looks like:


Yep. As you’ve guessed, there’s been sod-all rain so far.

p.s. As I was writing this, I googled “El Niño” videos. Turns out, I’m not the first one to think like this.

Click image to play video in a new window.



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