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When the shipping forecast saved me

Posted by Simon Parke, 24 October 2022, 5.06pm

It’s 5.25am, it’s the shipping forecast on Radio 4, stay with me. I am about to be blessed.

I am not a mariner, ancient or otherwise, but the weather update with gale warnings is about to save my life.

In our steady-paced maritime wanderings – Viking, Cromarty, Tyne, Dogger, Fastnet - we have reached Tiree, the most westerly island in the Inner Hebrides of Scotland.

And the news for residents and local sailors is good: ‘the storm is losing its identity,’ says the radio.

And preparing for my morning run, I’m gripped. What a great line (is this Shakespeare speaking?) so I repeat it: the storm is losing its identity.

It had possessed an identity around the island, causing havoc for clothes lines and water alike.

The storm had smashed, billowed and bashed.

‘I’m a storm – it’s what I do,’ and the people cower at its power.

But now the storm is losing its identity, says the weatherman. Which is another way of saying, it doesn’t now exist.

And what once filled the air with unruly agitation, what disrupted and perturbed and ripped off loose tiles, is now more akin to a breeze.

And the image stays with me; something disturbing losing its identity.

Feelings can be like storms, tossing and turning our little boat on the waves, as if it will be forever, as if we can never survive.

But over Tiree this morning, the man on the shipping forecast says the storm is losing its identity.

It’s what storms do – they lose it. They come and they go, the madness disappears.

And we can hold on to that, the weatherman is right.

The storm exists but briefly.

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