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 south-westerly 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.