I remember getting my first ever digital radio alarm clock as a teenager, way back in the late nineteen-seventies. I remember lying in bed late at night with the soft green glow of the numbers making everything in my bedroom look quite ethereal, listening to the Shipping Forecast at precisely twelve minutes to one. I’d have the volume really low, and almost have to strain to hear, but it was always so soothing to listen to. ‘Sailing By’ would play, and then the forecast would begin, with the same introduction, the familiar names and rhythmic tones lulling me softly to sleep.
I remember a male voice, strong and sedate, booming deep like the waves yet resounding clear as a bell… gale warnings first, then Viking, Forties, Cromarty, Forth, Tyne, Dogger, Fisher, German Bight, Humber, Thames, Dover, Wight, Portland, Plymouth, Biscay, Trafalgar, Finisterre, Sole, Lundy, Fastnet, Irish Sea, Shannon, Rockall, Malin, Hebrides, Bailey, Fair Isle, Faeroes, Southeast Iceland… wind direction, strength, precipitation, visibility, each called out singly, or sometimes huddled together in similar swell or squall… a strange spell of magical incantations recited daily, a prayer for protection, wrapping words of weathered wisdom around our jagged little island and keeping those of us ashore safe from harm as we lay tucked up cosily in our warm beds.