12.05.2011 Books 13 Comments

Attention All Shipping: A Journey Round The Shipping Forecast


** If you’re interested in putting on my 90-minute one-man show about the shipping forecast and my mishaps and adventures among the sea areas, which premiered at a sold-out show at the Michael Edwards Studio Theatre in the hold of the Cutty Sark in the autumn of 2014, then please head straight for this contact form. It’s a ding dong doozy, guaranteed.**

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. Charlie Connelly wittily explores the places behind the voice, those mysterious regions whose names seem often to bear no relation to conventional geography.

Of all my books this is the one that has received by far the biggest response. It was a bit of a leap in the dark given that I’d only written books about football up to this point, but a slot on BBC Radio 4′s Book Of The Week and a tie-in lecture at the Royal Geographical Society meant that Attention All Shipping got off to a flyer and is yet to come in to land more than a decade later.

Barely a week goes by even now without an e-mail landing in my inbox from someone who’s just discovered the book, and these are people of all walks of life, most of whom have no connection to the sea whatsoever. I’ve heard from people as far afield as Australia, Canada and Cambodia as well as all points of Britain and Ireland. There really is something about the shipping forecast.

“Wonderfully eccentric”  The Observer

“An engaging and often very funny book”  Sunday Times

“One of those simple yet brilliant ideas” Daily Mail

“If listening to ‘Sailing By’ to the bitter end every night is the surest sign of a Radio 4 addict, then buying Charlie Connelly’s new travel book runs it close”  Independent on Sunday

“Armchair travelling will never be the same again” Western Mail

“Charlie Connelly proves to be a suitably intelligent and amusing guide around these coastal stations and provides an illuminating history of the forecast itself” Hampstead and Highgate Express

“Went down a storm with this sea lover. It has great humour, it has great atmosphere. A very entertaining read and, believe me, you’ll never see cod in the same way again”  Sunday Tribune

13 Responses to “Attention All Shipping: A Journey Round The Shipping Forecast”

  1. mike taylor says:

    just read it again ,(third time) a truly wonderful informitive book written with the wit of a guy like myself………a little crazy maybe!!!!! just what this crap country needs…….FUN!!!

  2. john lewis says:

    as an ex seafarer, the title drew my attention to the book & a very welcoming,enjoyable read it proved to be. Having been in most of the regions that Charlie travelled ( albeit, in larger vessels) his words brought the regions to life, and suffering the same sea sickness as he did ( for several years) saw the hillarious side.
    wonderful read & shall now read some of his other volums.
    many many thanks for enjoyable hours,

  3. Jon Richards says:

    Just finished this and what a great read. As per the first comment your sense of humour is spot on. Many Thanks.

  4. Alan Ward says:

    Bit of a slow start, nearly left it, but got addicted – a bit like the Shipping Forecast through which I have reached the land of nod these past 40 years. Finally couldn’t rest til I reached Trafalgar at my desk this morning. Hey ho, back to work. Just what a good travel book is about, no photos, it’s all in the words. And it makes you want to go there.
    Now what else have you written.
    cheers – if I see you in the Trafalgar Tavern I’ll buy you a couple.

  5. [...] you’ve read Attention All Shipping you might recall how my mum’s family was bombed out of Silvertown on the first day of the Blitz in [...]

  6. Jonathan Gleave says:

    A thoroughly enjoyable and entertaining read, with a lovely balance between history, here and now and humour. I particularly liked how you brought the places you visited to life for yourself and the reader. A great idea and a significant personal achievement for you. And you are spot on about Plymouth !

  7. Claire Bellot says:

    Is there any chance of a pictorial edition? I’d love to see some of the places and people that you describe so beautifully in the book. Assuming that you took photos, of course!

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  9. Sue Wardle says:

    I found this brilliant piece of writing in a little bookshop round the corner from our apartment in Cambodia. It cost me $3 snd was worth every cent.
    We would sit at the table and listen to the shipping forecast every day…
    I was brought up in Deptford. Know Greenwich Park and the museums. And like yourself have sat byGeneral Wolfe. Was facinated by the hospital in Greenwich Park and was terrified of walking across the bridge on Creek Road incase it opened and I fell into the murky muddy waters below.
    I played in Sayers Croft Park and my mother would shop every week in Deptford High Street.
    We lived years ago in Gilbert House Deptford snd then Hughes House in Benbow Street.
    I went to Hughes Fields Primary and McMillan Nursary schools.
    Reading your book had it all flooding back to me.
    Thankyou for your witty and informative writing. To say I am now a fan is an understatement.
    We are now back in the Uk and still listen to the shipping forecast. A solid piece of our history.

  10. Irene, Cheshire says:

    Just finished Attention all Shipping. What a marvellous, informative and funny book. Loved reading about the history of all the places you visited and and the quirky people you came into contact with. The Shipping Forecast has always intrigued me and has always been there in my life especially in the days before television. I will continue to listen to it as it rounds off my day and thanks to you it will now make sense. (I have recommended it to my friends of a certain age)

  11. Deb Williams says:

    Just finished this delightful book and have lent it to a friend. But I shall make darned sure that I get it back! Perfect reading for stormy winter’s evenings tucked up cosily inside whilst braver souls are out at sea. And I shall now listen to the shipping forecast and be able to mentally picture all of the locations behind that soothing litany of names.

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