The Shipping Forecast

Every night, just before I drift off to sleep, I listen to BBC Radio 4 and, in particular, the Shipping Forecast. It is meant to provide the latest weather information to all the ships at sea in the waters surrounding the British Isles. But I think it’s safe to say that most people who listen to it are probably, like me, tucked up safely in their beds. The waters are divided into areas with intriguing names such as North Utsire, South Utsire, Viking, German Bight, Fisher, Dogger, Rockall, Trafalgar, to name but a few. And the forecasts themselves are a sort of meteorological shorthand:

“DOGGER FISHER GERMAN BIGHT
NORTHWEST 6 TO GALE 8, BACKING SOUTHWEST 5 OR 6, VEERING WEST 4 OR 5 LATER. RAIN OR SHOWERS. MODERATE OR GOOD”

It is a quintessentially British thing, the Shipping Forecast. I listen to it and suddenly I’m on a trawler, rolling in heavy seas hundreds of miles from land. Pure magic. Listen for yourself and you’ll understand what I mean.

That’s (not) me in the corner …

It’s Michael Stipe on stage at the Hammersmith Apollo last night. After listening to their music for going on 20 years, I finally got to see R.E.M. play live. I was lucky enough to get a ticket for the Make Trade Fair charity concert. It was the first time they’ve played the Apollo (formerly the Hammersmith Odeon) in 17 years, and the first time they’ve been on stage together in 11 months. It was a good rehearsal for their upcoming gigs. They’re heading back to America to help Bruce Springsteen get rid of that dangerous buffoon.