I suppose like many other anglers I have a keen interest in things Meteorological and it’s probably no surprise that a book about the history of the science should be written by an angler. Tom Fort is best known to the angling community for his contributions in Waterlog as well as his books, The Far From Compleat Angler and The Book of Eels. (Though, Tom’s other work, The Grass is Greener – is a social history of lawns and lawn mowing!)
Under the Weather traces the story of mans’ (mainly Englishmans!) search to understand and predict the weather. It tells the story of eccentrics and obsessives, amateurs and scientists, Village priests and Lords of the Manor all who shared a common fanaticism for the British Climate. Many had implausible names such as Orlando Whistlecraft and my favourite Dr George Merryweather, whose Tempest Prognosticator sounds like it came straight off the pages of a Blackadder comedy script , relying as it did on the prescient power of leeches!
The book is immaculately researched and doubles up as a travel book as Fort criss-crosses the UK to track down the places where these men lived and the places of British Meteorological significance. Fort also takes time out to examine the significance of the British weather on the national psyche.
The book is quirky, informative, well written, thoroughly engrossing and packed with interesting and hitherto forgotten tales. Fort writes with a gentle warmth and an enthusiasm for his subject that brings what could be a wholly dull subject matter to life.
A whole-heartedly, recommended read.
Arrow Books 2006 ISBN 978-0-099-46124-1. Available from Amazon at £6.39 – click here to view it.
PS Tom Fort is working on a book about British Rivers – should be worth looking out for!