Monday, 24 November 2008

veering southwest 8 or 9, thundery showers, moderate becoming poor

The storm became ever more impressive as the night drew on: thunder, lightening, hail-stones, gales. It even made the shipping forecast. Biscay is one of the southernmost regions covered by the BBC Radio 4 shipping forecast, and often one of the stormiest. Today was a 'severe gale force 9 veering northeasterly' and it felt it. The shipping forecast soothes the air waves four times a day and the 0048 rendition has to be one of my favourite cures for insomnia. It follows a full-length rendition of Ronald Binge's 1963 classic, 'Sailing By'.

Both the forecast and tune have had a suprising impact on popular culture from song lyrics by Blur, Radiohead and The Prodigy to inumerable comedy sketches. Stephen Fry produced one of the funniest:

"And now, before the news and weather, here is the Shipping Forecast issued by the Meteorological Office at 1400 hours Greenwich Mean Time.
Finisterre, Dogger, Rockall, Bailey: no.
Wednesday, variable, imminent, super.
South Utsire, North Utsire, Sheer Ness, Foulness, Elliot Ness:
If you will, often, eminent, 447, 22 yards, touchdown, stupidly.
Malin, Hebrides, Shetland, Jersey, Fair Isle, Turtle-Neck, Tank Top, Courtelle:
Blowy, quite misty, sea sickness. Not many fish around, come home, veering suggestively.
That was the Shipping Forecast for 1700 hours, Wednesday the 18th of August, 1988."