The solemn, rhythmic intonation of the shipping forecast on BBC radio is as familiar as the sound of Big Ben chiming the hour. Since its first broadcast in the 1920s it has inspired poems, songs and novels in addition to its intended objective of warning generations of seafarers of impending storms and gales. Sitting at home listening to the shipping forecast can be a cosily reassuring experience. There’s no danger of a westerly gale eight, veering southwesterly increasing nine later (visibility poor) gusting through your average suburban living room, blowing the Sunday papers all over the place and startling the cat. Yet familiar though the sea areas are by name, few people give much thought to where they are or what they contain.
In Attention All Shipping Charlie Connelly wittily explores the places behind the voice, those mysterious regions whose names seem often to bear no relation to conventional geography. Armchair travel will never be the same again.
Praise for Attention All Shipping:
‘An engaging and often very funny book in which a metropolitan man, buffeted by winds and high seas, travels from Norway’s smallest island to Europe’s westernmost pointing search of the reality behind the reassuring Radio 4 recital’ – The Sunday Times
‘Wonderfully eccentric’ – Observer
‘A book that’s as gentle and pleasing as the shipping forecast itself’ – Daily Mail
‘A comic tribute to a radio bulletin … also a quirky history of the outposts of northern Europe’ – The Irish Times
‘More than a travelogue … anecdotes delight in the diversity of the remote communities, while biographies of unsung heroes of British maritime history emphasise that the forecast has been crucial in saving lives’ – Waterstones Books Quarterly
‘This is a real gem’ – the Bookseller