If you're not a Brit, it's difficult to explain the hypnotic, reassuring comfort, in the wee hours, of the shipping forecast. Oh how I want to hear it again.
Picture this - you're ready for the next week, you've bathed, you've packed, you're in bed as snug as a bug in a rug with the bedside lamp on, the pips go for midnight and then the news and a light discussion programme.
By 00:45, your light might be out and you listen, drowsily, as church bells start to peal and then, at just before 00:48 comes some stately sailing music, then, in a dignified, clear voice, speaking at near dictation speed [speak it out to yourself as you read and you'll see what I mean], something similar to this earlier forecast from today is given:
And now the Shipping Forecast issued by the Met Office, on behalf of the Maritime and Coastguard Agency, at 1725 on Sunday 09 December 2007.Understand that there are another dozen or so areas also given. The hypnotic part is the repetitive nature of the area forecasts, always in the same order, always with the same BBC intonation.
There are warnings of gales in Forties Cromarty Forth Tyne Dogger Thames Dover Wight Portland Plymouth Biscay Fitzroy Sole Lundy Fastnet Irish Sea Shannon Rockall and Malin.
The general synopsis at midday:
Low Forties 976 losing its identity. Low southern england 975 expected northern germany 996 by midday tomorrow. Atlantic high moving slowly northeast, expected south Fitzroy 1032 by same time.
The area forecasts for the north-east in the next 24 hours:
Cyclonic 7 to severe gale 9 becoming northerly 5 to 7. Rough or very rough, occasionally high at first. Rain or showers. Moderate or good.
Cromarty Forth Tyne:
Northeast 7 to severe gale 9 backing northwest 5 to 7. Rough or very rough, occasionally high at first. Rain or showers. Moderate or good.
Cyclonic 3 or 4 becoming northerly 5 to 7, occasionally gale 8. moderate increasing rough or very rough. Rain or showers. moderate or good.
Fisher German Bight Humber:
Cyclonic becoming northerly 5 to 7, perhaps gale 8 in Humber later. moderate or rough, occasionally very rough. Rain or showers. moderate or good.
That concludes the area forecast for the north-east at 1725 on Sunday 09 December 2007.
Lying there in bed, your house around you, it's a great comfort to know that whatever might be the trouble in the political and economic world out there, the BBC still continues to give the shipping forecast, come what may.