When static ruled the airwaves,

Britain never being slaves,

morse code across the bows of uncertain ships

took to the skies, while

receivers were tuned to the shipping forecast


just as I twiddled on my crystal set

in a bakelite bedroom

before the dark doom of oceanic night

and heard that calm voice proclaim:

"Faroes, North Utsire,

north west four or five increasing six at times,

Rockall, weather fair, visibility good,"

with variations bringing warnings or respite to solitude,

while little heads like mine made landscapes

before sleep, half cocked with headphones

safe on land

while our ships rocked on the deep.






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Sat 6th Jul 2019 20:51

It's gratifying that readers can identify with the same feelings I had when going back to those early days, and knowing that the same process goes on today for good reason.

Thank you Peter, you are very kind, that is how I like to work for sure!

Thanks Devon, it's nice how this works through other eyes and triggers similar responses. I'll take that as a compliment - (the Heaney comparison). AFN was another gem of the time playing big band favourites.

Cheers Jason - our imaginations are so alert as kids and can prime us for future repetitions.

Hi David. I love Sailing By, especially on lonely motorways at night. Great that you can share such esteemed memories with me; thanks mate.

Hi Brian. All those names were goodies but mysterious areas unknown to most landlubbers. You've picked two that remind me of shark edged cliffs.

Kevin, whatever turned you on that's ok - I hope it was one of those chromium jobs with a hexagonal head and a morse code button. Luxury.

Thanks Jennifer, another hopeless romantic.

Graham, I loved the balance of the voice under any conditions, and they had to be spot on. Even more powerful when the weather was adverse.

Hi Martin. Dare I say it, but the enunciation was perfect and controlled which brought a sense of authority, (a bit like the speaking clock). As for Billy Cotton, wakey wakey!!

Rachel, Jon and Do. thanks for stopping by (and sailing by).

Love yus all. Ray

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Martin Elder

Thu 4th Jul 2019 22:19

It is strange how some how we use to derive some sort of warmth and comfortable recognition with such institutions as the shipping forecast, and dare I say it shows like billy cottons band show.
Nice one Ray

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Graham Sherwood

Thu 4th Jul 2019 21:26

Ray, my love affair with the shipping forecast was an early morning one before R4 Today came on the radio on my way to work. It always used to fascinate me, especially so in the winter when the weather outside was very poor. One could only imagine the seas!

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jennifer Malden

Thu 4th Jul 2019 16:30

Lovely one Ray! I can remember hearing these too.

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kJ Walker

Thu 4th Jul 2019 07:25

Beautifully nostalgic. I must admit, I don't have memories of listening to the radio in my bedroom, reading comics by torchlight was more my thing.

Cheers Kevin

<Deleted User> (18980)

Wed 3rd Jul 2019 23:22

My favourite is Dogger closely followed by German Bight.

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Jason Bayliss

Wed 3rd Jul 2019 23:15

Moment beautifully captured in a way I've never thought of it before. I've never seen the shipping forecast through the eyes of a child, but now I have it's going to be hard to see it any other way.


Devon Brock

Wed 3rd Jul 2019 23:04

Ray, obviously this reminds me of "Seamus Heaney", but you take it to another level. You have captured a moment of childlike wonder, and I am taken back to the old eight band radio I had as a child. I think anyone who reads this will be taken back to those nights, in a dim light, hoping the parents won't hear, where we listened to the world we didn't know, but could only imagine.


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Peter Taylor

Wed 3rd Jul 2019 22:55

Hi Ray, what a lovely story, You are the master of understatement betraying (beautifully) a deep afffection for so much that you touch.

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