“Attention All Shipping” by Charlie Connelly

For many people in the UK, the shipping forecast is an enigmatic yet comforting piece of radio programming, with unfathomable but melodic words flowing over the airwaves. The familiar names of the sea areas, Dogger, North Utsire, South Utsire, etc., evoke romantic notions of a byegone era, seemingly unchanged since the programme was first broadcast in the 1920s. The programme itself has been the inspiration for poems, novels and songs, and gives both valuable information to the nations seafarers, but also a comforting nostalgia for its many other listeners. Charlie Connelly sets out on a journey to visit all the shipping areas listed in the shipping forecast, and this book is the tale of his travels.

After reading the back cover of this book, I was looking forward to a humorous romp through the various areas of the shipping forecast, but I unfortunately I didn’t get it. The book felt disjointed, with each chapter feeling that time passes between trips without this coming across in the narrative. It feels as though it should have been a single journey, similar to Tony Hawks “Around Ireland With A Fridge” so you had a continuous travelogue of the journey, but instead it was part local history, part a guided tour of bad hotels and part an attempt at colourful humour about the local people of each area. For me, it was too disjointed and lacked the continuous story that kept me turning each page of Tony Hawks book in anticipation of the next story. I found I was easily distracted while reading the book, and it was actually a bit of a chore to finish it.

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