A BBC RADIO 4 BOOK OF THE WEEK
** 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.
“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