Not only an accurate description of today’s weather in Berlin but also an excerpt from a typical Shipping Forecast broadcast. I was delighted to hear Murray Laghlan Young read a new poem about the shipping Forecast at midday today as part of Andrew Marr’s exploration of British identity through poetry called We Brtiish. The programmes coincide with National Poetry Day today, and there’s an opportunity to submit your own short poem in the style of the Shipping Forecast on the BBC website, here. One of my favourites spoof poems is by Stephen Fry, from his Saturday Night Fry radio programme, broadcast in 1988. Here’s an excerpt:
‘Malin, Hebrides, Shetland, Jersey, Fair Isle, Turtle-Neck, Tank Top, Coutelle:
Blowy, quite misty, sea sickness. Not many fish around, come home, veering suggestively.’
I’m a big Shipping Forecast enthusiast so I thought I’d post my dancing lighthouses collage again today along with a few other lighthouse images I haven’t posted before.
What is it about this short, factual broadcast that gets under our skin? Carol Ann Duffy’s beautiful poem Prayer goes some way to capturing the magic in the last two lines:
‘…Darkness Outside. Inside, the radio’s prayer –
Rockall. Malin. Dogger. Finisterre. ‘
And BBC newsreader Zeb Soanes expands on its appeal to many who, like me, wouldn’t know one end of a ship from the other:
‘To the non-nautical, it is a nightly litany of the sea. It reinforces a sense of being islanders with a strong seafaring past. Whist the listener is safely tucked up in their bed, they can imagine small fishing boats bobbing about at Plymouth to 170ft waves crashing against Rockall.’
I enjoyed Murray Laghlan Young’s poem; it took a tour around the sea areas, telling stories about each and ending with a reflection on how these sea areas surround Britain, how they are an integral part of the land and the people as well. Those who work out at sea may scoff at people like me who go misty-eyed over the forecast – it is, after all, a purely factual forecast with a purely practical purpose, but it’s poetic rhythm, list of wild-sounding names and often wild weather, captures my imagination. And because i’ve been listening to it for as far back as I can remember, it is a thread that links my memories, from early childhood to now, as i’m entering my 50s.
The We British programmes i’ve been listening to today have been absolutely fab, and along with last week’s Poetry Please which focussed on poems about Britain’s offshore islands, i’ve got the sound of the sea in my ears today so I’m pulling these lighthouse images out of the drawer. I might revisit these one day and do some more.
And finally an angel I found, made from the offcuts of some of the lighthouses, it should be an angel for sailors out at sea in bad weather!