At forty-seven minutes past midnight I turn the radio on. The Home Service, the Queen’s own Radio 4, and once the last sentence of Book of the Week fades into the ether, the familiar intonations of “Sailing By” linger across the airwaves:
“And now the Shipping Forecast, issued by the Met Office on behalf of the Maritime And Coastguard Agency at 00.15 GMT. There are warnings of gales in… “
There’s something wonderful about the Shipping Forecast. The exotic language. The precise structure (maximum 370 words, the regimented order marking out a beat). The evocative nomenclature: Rockall, Malin, Bailey, mental images of strong, rugged sailors in their wee little boats, battling thirty foot surge with only inner strength and the soothing voice of the radio announcer between them and oblivion. The Shipping Forecast isn’t there for those of us Mockney oopsies who become seasick in the bathtub (see also Blur; Parklife; “This Is A Low”) – but it’s beautiful all the same, and I can’t be the only non-mariner who curls up beneath the duvet on cold and windy nights to wish: bring on gales…bring on squall.
There’s not too much to link Malcolm Middleton with the Shipping Forecast beyond tenuous prose. I do recommend listening to his solo albums late at night, however. An intimate affair – just you and the stereo and your blue plastic bag (six bottles of Stella, Jacob’s Creek and twenty fags – it’s what the whole world’s going home with).
Malcom Middleton / Up Late At Night Again
You can listen to “Sailing By” here, an example of the Shipping Forecast here, and Malcolm Middleton’s new project, Human Don’t Be Angry, are rumoured to be releasing material in the near future. Details here (once Malc remembers to update his site, that is)