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Spectator competition winners: ‘Shall I prepare thee for a summer’s day?’ (new ways of weather-forecasting)

17 March 2019

8:45 AM

17 March 2019

8:45 AM

The seed for this week’s task, to put your own spin on a weather forecast, came from the Master Singers’ take on a weather report, soothingly intoned in the style of an Anglican chant. But one competitor accompanied his entry with a note reminding me of that comic gem from the 1970s, courtesy of the Two Ronnies: ‘The sun will be killing ’em in Gillingham, it’ll be choking in Woking, dry in Rye and cool in Goole. And if you live in Lissingdown take an umbrella!’

The brief was deliberately open and it produced a pleasingly corpulent and diverse if somewhat gloomy postbag. An honourable mention goes to Brian Murdoch for his 12-isobar blues, the winners take £25 and Bill Greenwell’s stellar, Henry Reed-inspired bulletin earns him an additional fiver.

Bill Greenwell
Today, we have clearing of roads. Yesterday
We had snow business. And tomorrow morning,
The outlook is unsettled, verging on
      pandemonium. But today,
Today, we have clearing of roads. Nimbostratus
Hangs above us, grey as old ectoplasm, quite
      pregnant,
Though today we have clearing of roads.

This is an occluded front. And these
Are isobars, huddling together, or just quietly
      chilling,
Ready for a weather event. And this is a cold
      front,
Which in your case, you will have if unprepared.
      Coats
Should be worn, and scarves, and hob-nailed boots
Which your grandad would have had ready.

This is the traffic warning, which is hysterical.
It is in a triangle, with an exclamation. Have
      shovels
Handy. Keep the cat in. And the budgie (not
      together).
For today we have clearing of roads.


Basil Ransome-Davies
A weather front is moving in from Norway,
As cold as Putin’s heart and headed your way.
The glass is dropping. Put on thicker knickers.
Rain’s forecast for this evening. Wear your
      slickers.

The weather’s bad and never getting better.
It’s getting hotter, colder, drier, wetter.
The isobars have mostly gone bananas,
While climate change is freaking out iguanas.

It used to be the protocol would be ‘Read
The messages encoded in the seaweed’.
Now satellites and high-tech apparatus
Hijack the meteorologist’s afflatus.

The weather may be summery or vernal
Outside, but there’s a climate that’s internal
And less auspicious. What’s the use of brollies
If it’s raining in your heart, like Buddy Holly’s?

David Shields
Shall I prepare thee for a summer’s day?
Not really — this is Britain, don’t forget.
Rough winds and driving rain are on the way,
So don’t cast off that winter coat just yet.
Sometimes too hot the eye of heaven shines,
Though not here, to be honest, in the spring.
Tomorrow starts all right, but then declines,
So if you have to pop out, go first thing.
Last week, you may remember, was quite fair,
But now this cold front’s moved in: there are
      bound
To be some heavy downpours everywhere,
Turning wintry over higher ground.
One consolation, if you get some snow:
The pollen count’s exceptionally low.

Frank Upton
And I’m standing real mean by the green screen
Makin’ sure my beats are loud bold and cold
Now tomorrow, that’s my sorrow, makin’ it simple
      and plain
Don’t be surprised when you got rain on your ass
Snow-boy an’ Caz-K be cuttin’ the tempo fast
You suckas should know
I’m the Low with the snow and the 730 blow
I’m gonna leave ya in your pew with a clue
What the weather gon’ do and it true
I don’t mumble, don’t stumble, I don’t nevva
      fumble
Storm Freya, sky’s greya, you better say a preya
Better obeya, she a slaya
An you boys in the hood watch out good
There’s a cyclone in yo’ zone cut you clean to the
      bone
Hoist yo’ storm cone, that’s my warnin this
      mornin’
Now my man, here’s the plan, back to Naga and
      Dan…

David Silverman
Now over to Carol — what weather’s in store?
Come all you sun worshippers: good news
      there’s more!
They’re baking in Balham and schvitzing in
      Slough —
And if you’re a polar bear, look away now.
It’s thirty in Tromso and forty in Cannes,
The warmest December since records began.
Next week we could even reach fifty degrees,
And it seems they’re still chopping down trees in
      Belize.
In Crawley and Croydon it’s cracking the flags,
But with all these glad tidings, a couple of snags:
While all you amigos are hitting la playa,
The heat of the oceans gets higher and higher,
And while you uncover yet more flesh, to tan it,
We’re ready to say Adios to the planet.
So if you’re a coral reef, cover your ears:
It hasn’t been this hot in two thousand years.

Robert Schechter
Tomorrow there’ll be maggot rain
      and snowflakes made of frog,
and tiny, hungry, dragon sleet
      will penetrate the fog

as cracks of lightning strafe the earth
      till life itself’s in doubt.
To those who are my enemy,
      I say, ‘Why not go out?’

Your next challenge is to submit a spring villanelle. Please email entries to lucy@spectator.co.uk by midday on 27 March.


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