My cherished hand-knitted Fair Isle gloves, guaranteed to block an Atlantic gale or February frosts. Not knitted by me, sadly (I intend to conquer my knitting phobia at some point), but by an anonymous Shetland lady. I bought them several years ago in the Scalloway museum in Shetland, a small museum mingling articles from Shetland life, Fair Isle knitwear for sale, and a section on the Shetland Bus, the World War 2 resistance link between Shetland and occupied Norway.
Fair Isle lies between Orkney and Shetland. As the island's website says, it's also the name of one of the sea areas in the BBC Shipping Forecast, very often with gale warnings given out. Although the Fair Isle sea area isn't named in Seamus Heaney's poem, 'The Shipping Forecast', I always think of the island when I read the poem or listen to the forecast on the radio.
"Dogger. Rockall. Malin, Irish Sea:
Green swift upsurges, North Atlantic flux
Conjured by that strong gale-warning voice.
Collapse into a sibilant penumbra.
Midnight and closedown. Sirens of the tundra,
Of eel-road, seal road, keel road, whale road, raise
Their wind-compounded keen behind the baize
And drive the trawlers to the lee of Wicklow.
L'Etoile, Le Guiliemot, La Belle Helene
Nursed their bright names this morning in the bay
That toiled like mortar. It was marvellous
And actual, I said out loud, 'A haven,'
The word deepening, clearing, like the sky
Elsewhere on Minches, Cromarty, The Faroes."
I love the radio Shipping Forecast, deeply and helplessly. My children think I'm mad. If I am, so is a good segment of the British population, described by The Independent newspaper as 'that which enjoys the life of the mind.' If you want to read more about the Shipping Forecast and its appeal, try this article from The Independent. You may be able to listen to it on the BBC website.
Fair Isle gloves-Atlantic gales-Shipping Forecast. The life of the (wandering) mind.