Wednesday, March 28, 2007

I Love The Shipping Forecast...

My 11 yr old son and I were listening to the shipping forecast at 5am this morning. Being up before sunrise always brings out the melancholic aspect of me. I have learnt that this is a time for sadness and the darkest of thoughts. I told him that I used to listen to the World Service when he was a tiny baby, and that the shipping forecast was my favourite part of the day. Instantly soothing to me, like being swaddled tight in a blanket. I would get excited if I heard a force 10 gale, and would wait excitedly for my partner to wake so I could tell him that North Utsire had a force 10 today. He could never understand why this was so significant to me, and to be honest neither could I. I was a bit mad in those strange early days of motherhood, when your life moves around feeds and you find yourself awake when the rest of the world is slumbering.

The husky voice of the announcer said “Low Biscay 1010, low just south of Iceland 1012 and high Norway 1029 all losing their identities.” We laughed that they were losing their identities. “Perhaps they need cyclone-therapy” I said, and he laughed and laughed. He is smart and witty and I love him so much it hurts.

We drove into town through the early morning mist and I dropped him at the car park where all his school mates were waiting to climb aboard their coaches. I watched him amble across to his friends with his bag slung across his shoulder.

Don’t talk to strangers in the service stations, always stick with your friends and don’t wear your iPod when you are crossing roads I said to myself in my head as he slouched casually against one of the coaches.

I can’t bear that he is growing up. The world is full of danger and people who will hurt him. I want to wrap him up tight in his cellular blanket, as I did when I was mad and listening to the Shipping Forecast at 5 each morning.

I cried all the way home, weeping gently for my own lost childhood, not his. His world is not full of fear and danger. That was mine.

129 comments:

Earthpal said...

MsM, that's a lovely expression of love for your son.

My little boy is seven so he's still at the dirty-knee and runny nose stage with clothes hanging out and permanent food stains round his mouth. Moments to cherish.

Beautiful post.

Apotheosis said...

"I cried all the way home, weeping gently for my own lost childhood, not his. His world is not full of fear and danger. That was mine."

You know, if plenty of us managed to understand and - even more difficult - accept it, kids would probably grow up a lot happier. I perfectly understand what you mean and, although I do not have children, I too feel the weight of my lost childhood.

Kostas
(www.sarampalis.org)

bobo said...

Dear Ms M, I'm moved in two ways by this.

A sharp pang of sadness at not having my own children. Which often seems like a good deal, but when I read a post like this I'm left with quite heartbroken. Then I remember what a pain it was being a involuntary teenage Dad to my sisters ... all that chemistry of carefully preparing feeding bottles and smearing bottom cream on to nappy red bums. And I'm still left with bitter-sweet melancholy. Which, of course, is what you're about.

And the joy of the Shipping Forecast. One of those great pointless British institutions that are a constant weft to the weave of our lives. Like the Queen and marmite (yuck!). I love it when the stern announcer declares, "Visibility ... Good". Yes, visibility is good.

la-que-sabe said...

You've made me cry, Ms. M.

My little ones are much younger but I remember the madness of the months after their birth. Especially my daughter. I remember sitting on the kerb in the street where we lived in my dressing gown, thinking to myself, "if I could KNOW that they would be safe til their father comes home in the morning, I'd walk away right now" and knowing that I meant it.

But the hurt involved in loving them as much as I do was never something I ascribed to my own childhood. So thank you. You've given me more food for thought. You really are fantastic! :)

Francesca said...

That was really beautiful...very touching.

I don't have kids, but, somehow, I very much related to what you expressed: I have nephews who I adore and I treat as my own; and I also encounter moments where I have twinges of sadness for my own lost childhood when I look at them. But it's all a part of the "circle of life", isn't it?

Hmmm...have never listened to the shipping forecast, though. Let me give it a go. Now, there's something new!

nmj said...

ms m, this is poetry, i had a lump in my throat by the end...and, yes, the shipping forecast is wonderful, it comforted me when i was very ill years ago, its constancy and monotony is just so soothing.

Reading the Signs said...

"Prayer" by Carol Ann Duffy


Some days, although we cannot pray, a prayer
utters itself. So a woman will lift
her head from the sieve of her hands and stare
at the minims sung by a tree, a sudden gift.

Some nights, although we are faithless, the truth
enters our hearts, that small familiar pain;
then a man will stand stock-still, hearing his youth
in the distant Latin chanting of a train.

Pray for us now. Grade 1 piano scales
console the lodger looking out across
a Midlands town. Then dusk, and someone calls
a child's name as though they named their loss.

Darkness outside. Inside the radio's prayer -
Rockall. Malin. Dogger. Finisterre


Your post just called this up for me, Ms M, so hope it's ok that I shared, even though you probably know it. Lovely post, my dear.

Caroline said...

Bugger.
And fuck.
You have made me cry and I'm just about to go to work and my mascara has streaked down my face.

Beautiful.
xxx

Badger said...

Your lovely. I like you more with every post you make.

:)

x

Paul said...

It doesn't get easier, even when they reach 20, and neither does the loving bond diminish.
I sent part of this poem to another blog a little while ago, but it seems so appropriate, that I will post the whole thing to you if you don't mind:-

"Careless for an instant I closed my child's fingers in the jamb. She
Held her breath, contorted the whole of her being, foetus-wise against the pain. And for a moment
I wished myself dispersed in a hundred thousand pieces
Among the dead bright stars. The child's cry broke,
She clung to me, and it crowded in to me how she and I were
Light-years from any mutual help or comfort. For her I cast seed
Into her mother's womb; cells grew and launched itself as a being:
Nothing restores her to my being, or ours, even to the mother who within her
Carried and quickened, bore, and sobbed at her seperation, despite all my envy,
Nothing can restore. She, I mother, sister, dwell dispersed among dead bright stars:
We are there in our hundred thousand pieces!"

"Fingers in the Door" by David Holbrook.

anna said...

When they amble off with their bags slung across their shoulders, they are happy to go. They don't look back.

We do. All the way back to when they were wrapped and safe.

As my mother said recently, "Bringing up children is not for the faint of heart."

Paul said...

Apotheosis - Here's one for you from A.E. Housman:-

"Into my heart an air that kills
From yon far country blows:
What are those blue remembered hills,
What spires, what farms are those?

That is the land of lost content,
I see it shining plain,
The happy highways where I went
And cannot come again."

It has a beautiful sadness, that does not have to be depressing. This and the poems above seem to me, to be about the spiritual yearnings of the soul, rather than the usual desires, that the marketeers feed on.
Believe it or not I'm not a great poetry reader, but I'm in need of distraction at the moment.

Jude said...

That is a lovely post Ms M. Sadly my own post natal madness and the sheer bloody exhaustion of it all makes me less sentimental for those lost days.

But I suspect I will feel pretty damn sentimental for the noisiness of now when they all start to leave home.

trousers said...

Very finely nuanced poignancy there Ms M. As a relatively recent reader to your blog, now I'm left in no doubt as to why you are Ms Melancholy.

Its also nice to know that I'm not on my own here in not having children but being able to feel that I can empathise with writings such as this. But I think that says rather a lot about your writings.

Stray said...

*big sigh*

Will you adopt me?

Sx

Random Reflections said...

Several years ago I worked for an academic and she was very focussed and driven and not really someone I would naturally think of as a 'people person'.

One day the phone rang and the person on the phone told her that her young son was unwell and she just burst into tears in the office and she said to me "I could never have imagined quite how much you love your children until I had my own".

Indeed.

Ms Melancholy said...

Thank you earthpal, cherish them indeed x

Hi again apotheosis, I think you are right. We project our own fears onto our children and then try and protect them from the fears that they never had in the first place. A strange process, but entirely natural.

Hi BoBo, I am strangely moved at the thought of you playing mum to your young sisters. I can understand why you wouldn't want to do the whole thing again, by the way.

Hi lqs, I can totally identify with the madness that is sitting on the kerb in your dressing gown. I didn't get dressed for a month, until my mother forced me to one day. It is actually one of the few things that I could thank her for.

Hi again Francesca, I will be fascinated to hear your thoughts on the shipping forecast. (I guess you are American?) It is a peculiarly British thing, which as you can see is strangely loved by people. Find it on Radio 4 at 5am!!!

Hi nmj, good to see you back from your trip. I guessed that you would be a shipping forecast kind of a person. I still find it soothing, although I rarely hear it these days. Thank you for your lovely comment.

Hi Signs, I don't know the poem, but thank you for sharing it. It is indeed beautiful. 'The radio's prayer' - that sums it up so well.

Sorry Caroline, I didn't put my mascara on this morning to drop my boy off at the coach!

Thank you so much Badger. You too x

Thank you so much Paul, that is a very beautiful poem.
She clung to me, and it crowded in to me how she and I were
Light-years from any mutual help or comfort.
It says so much.

Lovely comment Anna. That is exactly how it should be.

Hi again Paul, another lovely poem. I am liking that people are getting all poetic on me today! I have never read any Housman, but I can identify with this.

Thanks trousers...when you going to write your own blog? (OK, just tell me when this gets boring, right?!)

Hi Stray, much as I love you I'm not in the market for adopting, I'm afraid. One was plenty for me!

Hi Random, yes indeed. I have seen similar. Our children touch a part of us that no-one else gets near, I think.

I always worry that I have scrolled past someone when I have a lot of comments.....think that's everyone

xxxx



Hi Jude, post natal madness is hard to believe until you have been there, I think. I really was quite mad. Fortunately, I was only happy when I was inside the house with baby on my knee. I would sit for hours and hours, just holding him while he slept, watching inane daytime TV. I learnt a lot about decorating.

Jude said...

Tell me about the decorating. I watched endless home improvement stuff. And Tellytubbies - I was there from episode one - their incoherent babbling seemed perfectly reasonable in my semi-conscious state.

I cried when Richard and Judy defected to Channel 4.

They were dark days,

xx

Jude said...

OH! And Ready Steady Cook!.

My eldest daugther's first sentence.

How could I forget?

Stray said...

Ok, how about a short term foster? Caroline and Badger would like me to ask on their behalf as well.

We promise to be very very good.

Sx

Ms Melancholy said...

Bloody hell Jude, that is sofamiliar!!! My ex-partner is an academic, from a family of academics. He was my bit of posh. His parents were staying one weekend and grandpa was playing a game: my boy on a stool waiting to jump off, grandpa said "ready, steady..." and my darling boy shouted "cook!" and then jumped off! I laughed like a drain. Ex-partner was furious. He wouldn't even watch the commercial channels, let alone daytime TV. I was 'spoken to' by my mother in law later that weekend who suggested that I should go back to work. It still makes me laugh....

Stray, short term foster. Now let me think.....no, sorry! I am very selfish and one and a half (step-daughter) dependents is enough. But please come round for tea and scones some time. You are more than welcome.

xxx

Ms Melancholy said...

Oh, and on Richard and Judy. I knew that I was suffering from a little more than the 'baby blues' when I cried at their christmas party special. I loved Richard and Judy. They still have a very special place in my heart, for being my companions in the madness. Do you remember the Geordie agony aunt? She was a total star.

Stray said...

Tea and scones sounds lovely. I'm sure Badger and Caroline will stop crying when I tell them about those ...

I don't think I can believe you are selfish though. I think you need to read some of your earlier posts about why people become therapists and remind yourself that you've chosen to opt out of an easy life and lots of money. You fool!

The geordie agony aunt is Denise Robertson. She is so nice it makes my bottom lip wobble, even if I'm not upset.

Sx

Janejill said...

Wonderful post, so clear and full of love and understanding - the love for my children is the strongest feeling I can ever have. Once, when my son and daughter were being looked after by their grandparents,after my husband died, and my mother was (as was her habit) complaining about me, my son, who was 7, said "stop that; you are talking about the woman I love more than anything in the world" Now, he is having such terrible problems and I cannot really help, and those words come back so strongly. Projecting one's fear onto one's children is so normal if they are healthy, and realistic fears; its the other sort which cause the distortion; I do not think you will any of those to reflect on later on Ms M. I can even mourn my own lost motherhood - well quite a few years of it were below "Good Enough"
Your memories of the ex-partner then made me smile; I insist on follwing some of my pleb whims, and I am humoured in this by my more "intellectual" partner. "Desperate Housewives" and Grazia and "10 Years younger" - well quite a lot of whims really...but I get sidetracked watching his attempts to read the Times with the paper lowered just enough to see the TV screen- I even spot the occasional smile....

swimmer6foot4 said...

I'm afraid your posting, Ms M, along with the responses it has elicited, leaves me just far too weepy to respond. (Bugger, just when I thought I had it all "under control" again). But thanks anyway, for posting it. (Why can't I stick to Blogs on dispassionate subjects like politics and human rights?)

On a more cheerful note, I too love the shipping forecast (it helps me realise I am living on an island 'cos sometimes I forget). My enjoyment was enhanced after I read the following Wikipedia entry all about the Shipping forecast. I particularly like the map showing where these areas are located.

trousers said...

I'm not bored yet Ms M!

Ms Melancholy said...

Ah, yes Stray, Denise Robertson. I loved her. I never phoned in though...

Hi JJ, thanks for your comments. And yes, I too can grieve for the days when my parenting was below good enough. So hard, so hard... I gave up my bit of posh (well, technically he gave me up) and now have a bit of working class Yorkshire. Except he also turns up his nose at crap TV and plays Haydn's string quartets far too loudly for my liking. So clearly this is something that I choose!

Hey lovely Swimmer, thank you for the link! I love wiki, and this is exactly why. You are very sweet.

Hey trousers, OK! Must try harder...

Paul said...

Thanks for a well timed, and beautifully written blog (together with some great individual postings)yesterday.

It must have been synchronicity.

Most of the thoughts linked in with something that was happening in my life at the time - a reminder that many of us have shared fears and longings.

It was also a helpful distraction, copying out poems, when I needed distraction, more than anything else.

Many thanks.

Jude said...

I loved Denise. I wanted her to be my mum.

Mrs F said...

Well it was only a matter of time wasn't it? Can't believe I have been reading your blog and at times thinking, ohhh she sounds like someone I kinda know. You write beautifully and some of your posts make me weep with laughter.

I do miss our 'chats'

Daniel said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Daniel said...

Good Heavens Ms M, you must have had it bad. R&J - not quite A&N (sorry, that is the last time, I promise) but not far off. Denise Robertson is quite the star up in these parts, in fact she lives not too far from me and has a column in the parochial (I mean,local) rag. A poor mans Anna Raeburn ROFL

Re the Shipping Forecast, may I suggest my favourite Blur track as homage - 'This is a Low' as beautiful beautiful beautiful as your post...

"On the Tyne, Forth and Cromarty,
Theres a low in the high Forties
And saturdays locked away on the pier
Not fast enough, dear.

And on the Malin Head,
Blackpool looks blue and red
And the queen, shes gone round the bend,
Jumped off lands end...

And the radio says...

This is a low,
But it wont hurt you.
When youre alone,
It will be there with you.
This is a low,
But it wont hurt you.
When youre alone,
It will be there with you,
Finding ways to stay solo..."

Peace-Out. x

trousers said...

....and not forgetting, from "Mercy" by Wire (on their 2nd lp, Chairs Missing):
"Snow storms forecast imminently in areas Dogger, Viking, Moray, Forth and Orkney".

They don't write em like that anymore....

Stray said...

*flashback*

1981. Listening to the shipping forecast in my Dad's W-reg Ford Cortina. White with a brown vinyl roof.

I always wanted to hear them say "Dogger". That's my favourite. I don't even know where it is.

*sigh*

Sx

Ms Melancholy said...

WellPaul, thank you so much for your poems. I enjoyed them. You are right, that we all share fears and longings. We all share our humanity.

Hi again Jude, me too! She is so understanding yet down to earth and normal. I would be happy to share a cuppa with her every week.

Hello there Mrs F!, I am impressed that you have left a comment! Mums the word, eh? Me too, by the way, on the chat front. Hope you are well. Come back again soon x

Oh Daniel, trust me, I had it bad. I would also weep at Friends. That's bad, isn't it? I love the lyrics, by the way. I am astonished at how the shipping forecast holds meaning for so many people, who have no interest in shipping.

Hi there trousers, see above comment! Even Wire.

Hi Stray, my favourite is always North Utsire, South Utsire, which is where most of the gale force 10s are! Swimmer left a link to the shipping areas so you can find Dogger. If memory serves me right it is next to German Bight, but I guess that doesn't help either. Check out Swimmer's link. It's great!

Daniel said...

Ms M

Weeping at Friends is entirely a sign of sanity. I do it every the time, as I reach for the remote...

Thankfully now (for the most part) we live in much more enlightened times re PND; honesty; guides, shines and lights. I have a feeling you will all be fine. x

Ms Melancholy said...

Hey Stray, Dogger is in the northeast, next to Tyne. You didn't really want to know, did you? I am the kind of person who knows the number of every road I ever travel on. It is a kind of autism, I'm sure.

Lovely Dan, I forgot to tell you how impressed I am that you know where aunty Denise lives. Can I come and visit you? And quit the Friends jokes, OK? Those buggers got me through the worst depression of my life.

xxx

mrs F said...

Of course mums the word, u know me, paranoid and secretive at the best of times!

Ms Melancholy said...

Mrs F, you are a total star. Now start writing your own blog immediately. I absolutely insist!

xxx

Daniel said...

Anytime at all. I will put enough scones & jam out for all of us... x

Paul said...

It's midnight.
I wish a peaceful night and an optimistic dawn, to all in blogland.
If you're going through bad times, I hope they will soon pass.
If you've had a good day, I hope tomorrow will be even better.

rivergirlie said...

tyne, fisher, dogger, weir, german bight (sp?). hope you feel a little better. there's an iris murdoch novel in which a character, in the depths of despair (well, i did say iris murdoch, didn't i) sits alone listening to the shipping forecast - it's a beautiful piece of writing, so evocative. i think it might be 'flight from the enchanter'.

doctor/woman said...

Seeing as everybody else is getting poetic, here is the poem your post reminded me of.

A Wish for my Children, Evangeline Paterson

On this doorstep I stand
year after year
to watch you going


and think: May you not
skin your knees. May you
not catch your fingers
in car doors. May
your hearts not break.

May tide and weather
wait for your coming

and may you grow strong
to break
all webs of my weaving

For me this seems to express the sadness and the sweetness of letting go of your children. (not something I have experienced yet, but watched my own mother struggle to do it.) Love your blog. Thanks for writing.

austin said...

Just need to add a note of appreciation.
Friend and I were talking about a mutual friend's daughter who has been caught up in some nasty bullying. We were both aware of the impossibility of creating a perfect shield for our kids and also aware of our own early pains that could not or were not shielded from us.
On the early motherhood note, I lived in a dream state for 8 months with a baby that cried till dawn. I have so many memories running into each other of twilight states of mind. For some reason I listened to a cd reading of Don Quixote, never being able to get past the 2nd chapter but hearing those first two over and over.

Ms Melancholy said...

Thanks Dan, will be round soon x

Thanks Paul for your thoughts x

Hi doctor/woman, another lovely poem.

and may you grow strong
to break
all webs of my weaving,


expresses so much how I feel. Thank you for that. x

Hi again Austin, I am touched at the thought of you listening to those same 2 chapters over and over again. It somehow represents that state of mind that many of us enter when our babies are tiny and so dependent. x

Lynda said...

Great post - lovely head-vision of your morning - suddenly I am wrapped up in a warm fisherman's jumper - I can smell the coffee and there are raindrops on the window... radio is sometimes like an old friend come to visit.

Ms Melancholy said...

Hi Lynda, thanks for visiting.

radio is sometimes like an old friend come to visit.

I so agree with this. The World Service will forever be my friend. I remember feeling sad when my baby no longer woke up at night, as I couldn't have those special quiet moments with him. I had a peculiar kind of depression, where I was only happy at night when we were both awake together. He was a sleepy baby though, and was sleeping through from about 9 weeks old. I should've been grateful, but I missed the World Service.

Boris said...

Nice. I am still at the stage of crying when I drop the little 'un off at school in his wee uniform - only three and a half years old, clutching at his toy trains like a comfort blanket....

Boris

Ms Melancholy said...

Don't Boris, you will make me cry again.

jennifer said...

I recently came accross your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I dont know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.


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