The BBC are really very very good at this. They may not always be accurate, but they have colossal style. I love listening to the shipping forecasts on Radio 4. You can pick that station up on the BBC’s website, but you need to listen to the LW version not the FM version, or you can catch them live on the World Service at 0600 GMT. They can be immensely soporific, a very gentle way to ease into your day.
Dogger In northwest, westerly or northwesterly 4, increasing 5 or 6, occasionally 7 in far west, in southeast, southwesterly, veering northwesterly, 4 or 5, occasionally 6
In northwest, slight or moderate. in southeast, slight or moderate.
In northwest, rain, then wintry showers. In southeast, rain, then wintry showers.
In northwest, good, occasionally poor. In southeast, good, occasionally poor
In case that sounds like complete gibberish, Dogger is a sea area (do take a look at the map if you don’t believe me); the first two lines tell you what the wind is doing; the next line tells you what the sea state is up to; the next what the weather is like; and the last line tells you what the visibility is like. All very civilised and confining itself to the hard facts.
Unlike that bastion of dispassionate factual reporting, the Daily Express. This is a propaganda machine for the Tories, masquerading as a newspaper, and it has two fixations – pensions and the weather. It has occasional forays into health matters, where it oscillates wildly between ‘Make statins available over the counter, says expert,’ and ‘Unseen health dangers with statins, says expert.’ Anyway back to the weather.
In Expressland, it never gets colder; the correct phrase is ‘temperatures plummet.’ There’s never a bit of a nip in the air. ‘Britain set to shiver under Arctic blast.’ There’s never s stiff breeze. No, because ‘Britain set to be battered by hurricane force winds.’ To be fair, they got that right a couple of weeks ago when we really did have hurricane force winds, but they were but gentle zephyrs compared with what hit the Philippines last week, or the tornadoes that pounded the US Midwest over the weekend. Likewise what the Express calls ‘torrential rain’ is a light shower by tropical standards ‘Britain braces itself for blizzards.’ No it doesn’t, because we’re crap at preparing for what we consider bad weather. ‘Six inches of snow on the way, say experts.’ Read between the fine print, and you find that’s what’s predicted in NE Scotland, which, since it’s level with Norway, might be expected to get a bit parky. Oddly, the Express is so Londoncentric that Scotland rarely merits a mention. Give it 6” of snow, which is not a blizzard by any means, and Scotland become the bellwether for the UK. There’s a chance of some small falls on high ground in the SE, and horror of horrors! ‘even some light dusting in London itself.’ Crikey.
The fact is that for most of Britain, for most of the year, there is no weather, only climate. Nobody ever gets killed by hailstones the size of golf balls, and unlike say, Michigan, nobody freezes to death in a carpark when they drop their car keys and are a bit slow finding them. When somebody freezes to death in the UK, it makes the national news; in Montana, it barely makes page five of the Moosejaw Recorder. We don’t get Minnesotan snowfalls of three or four feet overnight.
‘Experts fear thousands at risk.’ Really? I know I’m at risk, because in what passes for snow here (I’m deliberately ignoring the winters of 1962/63, 1949, and 1976, since they were clear aberrations), I have trouble because if I slip I’m quite likely to have my knees let me down and I’ll end up on my back in a ditch full of icy water. It happened earlier this year. I’m still around.
By the way, if you’re interested, this is the General Synopsis issued by the BBC at 0600 today. I nearly went back to sleep just reading this.
High western north Atlantic 1036 expected central north Atlantic 1032 by 0600 tomorrow.
STOP PRESS! ‘Icy 70 mph gales to bring chaos.’ This morning’s headline…