Monday, August 25, 2008

Shipping Forecast in the Olympics

Those listening closely to the London segment of the closing ceremony of the Olympics would have heard briefly one of the most evocative series of words of British maritime tradition.

For the composer of the music used, as described here, included phrases from the shipping forecast such as "North Utsire, South Utsire and Lundy Fastnet Irish Sea..."

Its one of the greatest poems that isn't a poem, the daily ritual that saves lives at sea but is mostly listened to by non-sailors. There's something about it that is strangely soothing and yet refreshing, connecting even those deep inland to the wild seas around our coastline and is best listened to while snug under a duvet, hearing the rain and wind beat against windows outside.

But how much of those imagaries and associations is picked up by non-Brits? Does our shipping forecast mean anything to you?

Answers please!


tillerman said...

Ye gods - they changed the names!!! How dare they? When I was a boy Fitzroy was Finnisterre... and where did the Utshires come from? New-fangled bloody names.

Tyne, Dogger, German Bight.
Humber, Thames, Dover, Wight.
Sheer poetry.

I have a theory that reciting these names to young impressionable minds is the secret of Britain's success in Olympics sailing.

JP said...

Oh no! Our secret weapon has been discovered!

Turinas said...

My brother in law is called Chris Lewis. One of his friend used to read the shipping forecasts. This included calling out the weather for the "Butt of Lewis" in Scotland (I think).

One day she had to read a forecast where she said "High winds off the Butt of Lewis". As Chris is a typical beer-drinking, curry-munching bloke with all his gastric consequences, she started to get the giggles.

Apparently it was one of those classic BBC announcer gets the giggles moments.