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This Day: March 1

March 1, 2010

I’ve always wondered what Heligoland meant. It was only today, on the anniversary of its hand over from the British to the Germans I realised it was an actual place.

I first heard the name from the ethereal Melbourne band of the same name; subsequently I realised the name was shared with the solo vehicle for ex-Talk Talk’s Tim Friese-Greene. Plus, of course, it is the name of the new Massive Attack album.

For the actual islands’ part, they has been variously owned by the Denmark, Germany and England. They have been used for fishing, a popular tourist spot, naval base, bombing range, and tourist spot (again, with added tax dodges), and as a major navigation and piloting point for shipping into the German ports.

Which leads to that most English of traditions: the shipping forecasts, set here to a lazy trip-hoppy beat by Overseer on his song Heligoland. Listen lazily and the mix of ambient washes and the formal, droning announcer lulls. That is until you realise Sole Lundy Fastnet is due gales, confusion, nausea and boiling seas, while Humber Thames is relatively calm with goosebumps.

Despite the crazy weather, Overseer played this straight. Heligoland is never silly, like, for instance Mr Scruff’s fishier tales. Instead the mix of real weather with unfortunate ailments gives me a wry smile whilst winding me down.

For your information, it’s best to avoid sailing around Heligoland at the moment, due to:

Planet-struck and spellbound.
The wreck of matter and the crush of worlds.

Goodnight and good sailing…

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