The Shipping Forecast
You shall have a fishy on a little dishy…
For a small minority of people the shipping forecast on BBC radio four is precious information, a vital coded message that shapes the course of the working day (or night) for those whose lives and livelihoods are harnessed to the weather at sea.
The names: Dogger, Viking, German Bight, Faeroes, are imbued with a seafaring drama, with conflict; they suggest the unremitting challenge of a sea that encloses us, that symbolically protects and isolates the old island nations, battered but surviving. These are places where great, life threatening forces are continually unleashed and where nature’s vengeful power always hovers on the horizon. We automatically sketch in familiar images and details: massive ships; great sawing hulls crashing against waves; small trawlers tossed helplessly; dripping oilskins; shouts of alarm; patterns of resilience, strength. And then perhaps calm, awe inspiring vistas of tranquility and light. Pure Melville, through the filter of Hollywood and TV advertising.
From the introduction to the book by Mark Power ‘The Shipping Forecast’
Darkness outside. Inside, the radio’s prayer/ Rockall. Malin. Dogger. Finisterre.
Carol Ann Duffy, Prayer
This animated piece is a visual interpretation of the ever unfolding drama of these quite often dangerous mystical places, which deserve every bit of respect regardless of how many times you have thrown off the ropes in the past.
Having bobbed up and down on the North Sea for a number of years [true story] in my early career days, the one thing I can easily relate to is the romanticism of battling the elements, the smell of salt in the air, the sound of the wind howling, the gulls screaming, the slap of cold water on your face… and the inevitable sting in your eye that followed it. Haaaaaaaaaar, them thar were the days!
Listening to the shipping forecast late at night and the introductory soundtrack of ‘Sailing by’ was often the highlight of being on watch; for one it eased the boredom, and secondly you were the first to know what mother nature was going to throw at you in the morning. Exciting times for sure, especially in the cold dark winters.