I’ve never understood what any of it means, but the shipping forecast has haunted the kitchens in my life for as long as I can remember. I grew up with both my mum and my grandma listening to Radio 4 while they peeled potatoes or washed dishes, and now it plays in the background in my own kitchen. I assume the voices have changed over the years, but the structure of the shipping forecast remains the same, read by measured voices with BBC accents, their tones rising and falling as they say things like, ‘North Utsire, South Utsire: good; rain later’ or ‘6, occasionally 7; moderate or good’. It has a rhythmic and vaguely hypnotic quality that feels safe and comforting, particularly because for me, it brings with it memories of nearly-dinner-time, the smell of onions softening and tomatoes simmering. That it is more or less complete nonsense to me is part of its charm. I don’t need to understand it: I’m in my kitchen chopping vegetables and the chances of having to navigate on a sea voyage are pretty slim. It’s grounding to hear a familiar voice sounding like it has everything under control, especially when you don’t have to think about what any of it might mean.
Monkey by Clive Wesley Dennis