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Attention All Shipping: A Journey Round the Shipping Forecast (Radio 4 Book of the Week) [Paperback]

Charlie Connelly
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (83 customer reviews)
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Book Description

5 May 2005 Radio 4 Book of the Week

This 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.

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Attention All Shipping: A Journey Round the Shipping Forecast (Radio 4 Book of the Week) + Rain Later, Good: Painting the Shipping Forecast + Galley Cloth - Shipping areas
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Product details

  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Abacus; New Ed edition (5 May 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0349116032
  • ISBN-13: 978-0349116037
  • Product Dimensions: 12.7 x 2.5 x 19.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (83 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 26,326 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Charlie Connelly is a bestselling author and award-winning broadcaster.

He is the author of ten books, including the bestselling 'Attention All Shipping: A Journey Round The Shipping Forecast', and 'And Did Those Feet...: Walking Through 2000 Years Of British And Irish History'.

'Attention All Shipping' is one of the biggest selling travel narratives of the past decade, was a Radio 4 Book of the Week, and the audio version was voted the second greatest audiobook of all time in a Guardian/Waterstones poll in August 2008. 'And Did Those Feet' was also a Radio 4 Book of the Week, read by Martin Freeman.

Charlie was a presenter on the BBC Holiday programme, his first film for which won the Silver Thistle Award for international broadcasting.

He co-presented the first three series of Traveller's Tree with Fi Glover for BBC Radio 4 and devised and presented the acclaimed documentary 'Noel Coward, The Poet' for the same channel. He has been a regular guest on 'Excess Baggage' and has also appeared on BBC Radio 2, RTÉ Radio 1, Newstalk 106.2 and BBC Five Live. Charlie was shortlisted for the 2008 British Guild of Travel Writers' Radio Award for his work on Traveller's Tree.

He has written for a number of publications including The Guardian, The Times, New Statesman, Arena, Irish Times, Sunday Times, Glasgow Herald and - much to his accountant's amusement - the Financial Times. He has also written comedy scripts for RTÉ Radio One and wrote the well-received comedy show What's The Story?, broadcast in January 2011, for the same channel.

Charlie is a popular and entertaining public speaker, having lectured at the Royal Geographical Society, sold out the Edinburgh Festival and spoken at numerous events and festivals with venues for his solo appearances ranging from a sold out Glasgow Royal Concert Hall to the Toller Porcorum Village Hall in Dorset.

He has sung Blue Moon of Kentucky live on Uzbek national television with the country's biggest pop star, is an official ambassador for a breakaway Lithuanian republic, was once hounded by the UK national press after being falsely accused of intending to invade Rockall, was presented with an honorary team shirt with his name on by the Liechtenstein national football team and has been chased across the Great Plain by Hungarian gangsters. They thought he was someone else, but fortunately he didn't notice until they were arrested.

Charlie was born and raised in London. He now lives in Dublin.

Product Description


An engaging and often very funny book (SUNDAY TIMES)

A wonderfully eccentric study (OBSERVER)

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')

Book Description

Dogger. Rockall. Malin. Irish Sea' - the hilarious bestselling travel book that journeys round areas made famous by Radio 4's The Shipping Forecast.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
61 of 62 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A very funny trip around the British Isles 9 Sep 2004
This is a great book! If you have ever wondered where North Utsire is or what it may be like to have a North Easterly Gale force 8 blowing across Lundy, then this is the book for you. Connelly reveals each of the sea areas of the shipping forecast in turn in a very easy to read format. He is quite ready to share with us his failings but he also tells the reader about life on the edge of the coast with a gentleness lost in some others writings. If you liked Bryson, Hawks etc then you will like this book, even if you don't know your Bailey from your Viking.
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50 of 51 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An enjoyable journey around our shores 24 Jun 2004
Ever since I was a lad, I've wanted to read the Shipping Forecast on Radio 4. Which is why I'm now an engineer. But there remains a great charm and poetry to the forecast which, since its first broadcast in 1911, has become a fixture of British radio. For me, there's the comfort of shutting up the shop, drawing in the curtains, as the announcer makes his (or her) way around this island and its territorial waters, starting in the north-east and working clockwise to Iceland. At twelve minutes to one in the morning, it's comforting; a precise definition of all of the land, and sea, that Britain encompasses. As I've grown older, the coastal reports mean more to me, as I recognise places I've been, headlands I've stood upon. As sleep rushes over me, I try to picture the island and tick the places off - Channel Light Vessel Automatic; Aberporth; Sangette Automatic; and so on.
Charlie Connelly's book is like a manifesto for Shipping Forecast Aholics Anonymous. He starts with the same love of the thing and attempts to visit all of the areas, to better make the mental pictures in later life. It's a fantastic piece of scheduling to have this as the Late Book on Radio 4 - how post-modern! A book reading about the very next programme!
Connelly's book has kinsmen in the Tony Hawks triology, Pete McCarthy's books, and others like 'Tilting at Windmills' but, for me, it is so much better than those. He explores the areas wittily, and there's a fair amount of personal experience built into his tales, but there's also a real care and passion in the histories he tells of each area. In short, it's great fun but really interesting too - highly recommended.
Two very minor quibbles. First, why no photographs?
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41 of 43 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Notes From Many Small Islands 20 July 2004
The idea behind "Attention All Shipping: A Journey Around the Shipping Forecast" is so ingenious you wonder why nobody has ever done it before. Whereas many globe-hopping travel writers struggle desperately to come up with increasingly outlandish odysseys, Charlie Connelly has accomplished a much more impressive feat: revealing the extraordinary diversity that exists right here in the British Isles and their near neighbours. In a book brimming with characters and anecdotes, my favourites are the Crown Prince of Sealand (a rusty World War Two military platform in the North Sea) and the Pythonesque women who cheerfully bully their customers into buying Belgian waffles in the Choxaway Café at Land's End Aerodrome.
Whether you view the shipping forecast as a dry, nautical roll call or get all misty at the mere mention of Dogger, Fisher and German Bight, you will find plenty to enjoy in "Attention All Shipping". From beginning to end, Connelly proves a funny and self-deprecating guide, the kind of guy you'd be happy to be stuck on a remote island with-provided he had recovered from his latest bout of seasickness. Five stars.
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38 of 40 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Goes down a storm 16 April 2006
This was one of my surprisingly good reads of 2006. Having never heard the shipping news (well, consciously at any rate), this would never have been a first choice and I must admit to being a little dubious about receiving it as a gift.

The basic premise seems designed for retired sailors safely tucked under their lap blankets in an out of the way coastal town. The author, oddly intrigued by the shipping forecast since his youth, would spend a year travelling through each of the areas named in the forecast and give us a potted history of each. Not generally my cup of tea, particularly when some of these places have so little to offer your regular tourist that even the locals are surprised to see him.

However, Connelly's writing style clearly carries this concept. He is a brilliant observer of both people and places and kept me giggling away at even the most banal travelling mishaps. The book is packed with cringeworthy character studies, laugh out loud anecdotes and interesting local histories - all of which come together in an exceptionally good read.

While I have no inclination to visit many of the places on Connelly's travels, I am at least now better informed as to why that might be and definitely have admiration for an author who can find so much of interest in even the most banal of places. Definitely worth a read.
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Force 12, clear, excellent. 29 Jun 2004
By T
Like many people I love the notion of the shipping forecast but have no idea what any of it means or even the areas it covers. (It stretches from Iceland to Spanish waters)
This book gives a fantastic lesson in all of this without lists of facts and boring essay type instruction.
The author gives a bit of background and history to the areas, a description of the actual forecast and how it's produced and a few personal seafaring stories then sets out to visit as many areas as physically possible.
Each area is written about in the style of modern travel writers such as Pete McCarthy, Bill Bryson, Tony Hawkwes etc and with the same type of humour. The author describes the people he meets and experiences he has rather than focusing on shipping stories.
The scene in Tingwall Airport had me in hysterics with everyone aghast that the author had turned up for 'check in'. The book is also very informative, (did you know there is no road tax on Fair Isle?) and so illuminating in its descriptions that I have booked a trip to Shetland next month to see it for myself.
After reading this I put on my deck shoes and nautical blazer and listened to the shipping forecast and guess what? I understood every word. Brilliant.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Informative and funny. I would recommend it to anyone!!
Published 1 month ago by Nenemiah
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
This is a good book but don't read it if you are tired and need to concerntrate
Published 4 months ago by Sparky
4.0 out of 5 stars Very good and very funny
Really good book. Funny, and one that will last the distance which is appropriate considering the topic. Still going strong too.
Published 4 months ago by Timothy John
4.0 out of 5 stars Attention all Shipping
The book is historically interesting, hysterically humorous and very well written.
The condition of the books - purchased was not brilliant... Read more
Published 7 months ago by J. Hemsley
5.0 out of 5 stars Funny and entertaining
I bought this book a few years ago. After reading, I lent it to a friend who lent it to a friend, and so on. Needless to say the book never came back. Read more
Published 7 months ago by Amazon Customer
4.0 out of 5 stars Reaction to 'Attention All Shipping'
Very good reason for writing a book. Charlie Connelly gives the details of each of the shipping zones and his stories are fascinating. A good read.
Published 7 months ago by S. P. Carter
4.0 out of 5 stars Entertaining
This is written in humorous travel style by someone who obviously knows the genre and who has a real interest in the shipping forecast and what it's all about. Read more
Published 7 months ago by Multikulti
2.0 out of 5 stars Such a let down
The book was recommended by a friend as she is in a book club and it was book of the month. Unfortunately the read is disjointed , gets weighed down in history and the book... Read more
Published 8 months ago by Mr. S. J. Roake
5.0 out of 5 stars Purchase arrived promptly and was well packed.
I bought this as a Christmas present for a friend who was delighted with it as he is losing his sight and can no longer read printed books
Published 9 months ago by mississem
4.0 out of 5 stars good book with a little humour
Funny travel this to learn more about the shipping forecast...learnt more about the diversity of life round the British Isles.
Published 9 months ago by Span
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