The DLR Forecast


It’s about time the evocative stations of the Docklands Light Railway were given a proper showcase, argues Frank…

In a cupboard comment a fortnight ago, Worm noted that the Shipping Forecast on BBC radio long ago ceased to be of any real use to boating people. We all know that it is kept on air because it has become one of those peculiar British traditions, adored by those who listen to it simply for the poetry of the names of all those shipping areas. The majority of listeners have no idea what the information given actually means, nor do they care.

It occurred to me that another source of evocative names is London’s Docklands Light Railway (DLR). It, too, ought to have its own forecast, the station names followed by abstruse and possibly meaningless information, thus:

Shadwell : locusts, bandage paste : 57, 12 : pining

Poplar : mordant starlings, catafalque : 6, 22 : clattering

West India Quay : dirigible, Marmite : 82, 98 : flapping

Canary Wharf : peanuts, macadamia nuts : 6, 10 : galumphing

Heron Quays : coathanger, pot : 52, 11 : pinging, grinding

Mudchute : pagans, whirling things : 14, 14 : looming

All Saints : gas canisters, birdseed : 5, 36 : clucking

Pudding Mill Lane : savagery, nesting habits : 8, 70 : flickering

Custom House : pomposity and flags, a cup : 16, 84 : abseiling

Cyprus : Yoko Ono, farm buildings : 63, 71: choking

Gallions Reach : plastic cutlery, monitor lizards : 43, 7 : muttering

Cutty Sark : bevels, creosote : 19, 90 : preening

Limehouse : muck, night soil : 2, 107 : mucking about

And that concludes today’s DLR Forecast.

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About Author Profile: Frank Key

Frank Key is a London-based writer, blogger and broadcaster best known for his Hooting Yard blog, short-story collections and his long-running radio series Hooting Yard on the Air, which has been broadcast weekly on Resonance FM since April 2004. By Aerostat to Hooting Yard - A Frank Key Reader, an ideal introduction to his fiction, is published for Kindle by Dabbler Editions. Mr Key's Shorter Potted Brief, Brief Lives was published in October 2015 by Constable and is available to buy online and in all good bookshops.

10 thoughts on “The DLR Forecast

  1. Worm
    August 16, 2013 at 09:10

    brrrr… as soon as I hear that in my mind I’m thinking of storm-tossed pigeons up the Mudchute

    August 16, 2013 at 09:14

    and why not, in an age of immaterial information, from false fracking figures to DFS percentages (did you know that, this week, they are offering fifty percent off) the country is sinking in a miasma of data. Don’t you long for that day, in the not too distant future, post information overkill, when we switch on the telly and are greeted with nothing more than a picture of Mr Mole whitewashing his living room.

  3. Brit
    August 16, 2013 at 13:44

    You’re right, Frank, even amongst tube lines the DLR has the most evocative station names.

    I like the DLR, especially around Canary Wharf – I think of it as a very slow rollercoaster.

    August 17, 2013 at 02:36

    But can you make poetry or a prayer out of it? I love the sound of Carol Ann Duffy’s Prayer:

    Darkness outside. Inside, the radio’s prayer –
    Rockall. Malin. Dogger. Finisterre.

      August 17, 2013 at 06:54

      Dazzled and dumbstruck, we are blind and mute
      Heron Quays, Limehouse, Poplar, Mudchute

        August 17, 2013 at 16:54


    August 17, 2013 at 10:52

    The law as ever, descends upon thee
    Canaries all sing –
    the wharf it do ring –
    with the song of the wind thro’ yonder Yewtree.

    August 17, 2013 at 23:55

    There’s a short story by Will Self called Scale about poetry of motorways specifically the M40. I’m paraphrasing some of it:
    ‘Narrow lanes, narrowing, narrowing
    Ker-chunk ker-chunk – ker-chunk Watlington’
    Something like that. It’s a very funny story. Also set in Bekonscot model railway which is always good.

      August 19, 2013 at 22:52

      ‘Scale’ is brilliant – probably still the best thing Will Self has written.

    August 18, 2013 at 21:43

    Flanders and Swann did something wonderfully similar with the names of the stations closed by Doc Beeching. Needs a good actor.

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