Sunday, December 09, 2007

[shipping forecast] on radio 4 this evening

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.

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:

Forties:

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.

Dogger:

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.
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.

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.

23 comments:

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oestrebunny said...

I've never listened to the shipping forecast. In fact, if it were not for 'Black Books' I would never have known it existed.

Shades said...

I've regularly heard it, particularly when driving to/from airports at silly times.

Julie said...

Isn't the forecast's real player file available to you there?

Welshcakes Limoncello said...

Now look what you've done: I come over here to say goodnight and you've got me all homesick! I feel exactly the same about the shipping forecast. I love what you said about "your house around you" and lying in bed listening to it [the forecast, not the house , I mean]. Going to bed to dream of it, now.

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Dave Cole said...

The Shipping Forecast is a wonderful institution. It very much expresses Britain's maritime past and the fact that most goods coming into this country - over 90% by value - come by sea. I've often listened to the Shipping Forecast and felt that civilisation was secure for another night if the BBC could broadcast the weather for the sea.

The music played beforehand is 'Sailing By'; it was chosen because it's easy to change the length of it so that the shipping forecast always starts at 0048 and because it's an easily identifiable piece of music that you can tune into when your ship is being tossed about on the high seas.

While I'm not a monarchist - quite the opposite - I do like the national anthem being played at the end of Radio 4's broadcasting, just after the announcer wishes you a peaceful night. The World Service, which follows, sometimes announces itself with 'This Is London' (capitalisation of the second word intended), with the sense being that this is jolly important and you'd better listen.

At various times, I've had a lot of difficulty sleeping, and would hear both the shipping forecast at the end of the night and the Radio 4 Theme when it started broadcasting again. I wish they'd bring it back; it was a cheery piece of music that got me ready for the day.

In the meantime...

Dogger, Fisher, German Bight...

xD.

Ellee Seymour said...

It is a British institution, like Jersusalem and Remembrance Sunday. I'm sure someone could make a podcast for you, or maybe it is available in this format on the BBC website.

Liz said...

Oh, yes, such wonderful names and mysterious happenings.

I also recall, when I was little, coming home from town on Saturday afternoons to the sound of the football results on the radio in the corner. Queen of the South, Partick Thistle, Crystal Palace.

mutleythedog said...

It is fantastic - I seem to hear it about 4 times a week, and as I live on the sea front I can listen to the waves beating in at the same time... and drink a teeny night cap.

Bretwalda Edwin-Higham said...

Ah yes, we've struck a nerve. I'd love for our North American friends to follow this thread and see how much something ostensibly dull means to us.

mutleythedog said...

I also like the fact that we still get the National Anthem as well...

Dave Cole said...

Mutley - Nice to live by the sea. I'm fortunate to live within the sound of Big Ben, so I hear the real 'ding' just before the radio 'ding'.

xD.

Swearing Mother said...

I love the shipping forecast, don't know why. It's just so, so, British! There, I've said it.

Bretwalda Edwin-Higham said...

I looked at the BBC site but they said I had to have Real Player which I gave away years ago. Any other way?

Dave Cole said...

You can listen to it with helix player (I think).

Norman said...

Much more accurate than the general forecast. Once you've sussed out the meteorological terminology you can work out what you're in for. provided of course you know which sea area your bit of coast borders on. It used to be Tyne for me but now its Irish Sea. Last week, if you look at my Blog it was Lundy andPlymouth, while in Cornwall.

The Tin Drummer said...

Great post, sir, though I need to add a qualification to my love of the SF.

It is this: the time is 3 minutes to six o clock and England are nervously holding on for the close of the day's play. Aggers says: "And our Radio 4 LW listeners are leaving us for the shipping forecast now...". Cue marvellous forecast, poetic, rhythmic use of language for 3 minutes, before the R4 announcer ends it by saying "And while we've been away from the cricket, England have lost another wicket...".

Every. Single. Time.

Bretwalda Edwin-Higham said...

Ha, ha. Yes indeed, Tin Drummer - always happens.

nick s said...

The after-midnight shipping forecast, to me, is the national equivalent of checking the doors and windows, unplugging the appliances and turning off the lights before you go to bed. Offshore? Check. Coastal stations? Check. Inshore waters, in that rough circle of the coast? (The last being the wrapping of the blankets around you.)

Good.

I wish it were available as a podcast.

Semaj Mahgih said...

Quite right, Nick - it should be available as a podcast.