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'The clouds are nature's poetry, and the most egalitarian of her displays, since everyone has an equally fantastic view of them. Clouds are for dreamers, and their contemplation benefits the soul. Yet their beauty is so everyday as to be in danger of being overlooked ...' Gavin Pretor Pinney is the chairman and founder member of the Cloud Appreciation Society. He contends that we are blessed in this country with a uniquely rich and varied cloudscape, which has hitherto been sadly undervalued. His book teaches us to appreciate their different varieties - the cumulus, nimbostratus and Morning Glory to name only a few - and all their beauties and significances, both meteorological and cultural. We learn how Hindus believed the cumulus clouds were the spiritual cousins of elephants, how thermal air currents act on fair weather cumuli, and how to save a fortune in psychiatric bills by using the clouds as Rorschach images that reflect our state of mind as well as nature's moods. Looking up will never be the same again.
Gavin Pretor Pinney is co-founder, with Tom Hodgkinson, of The Idler magazine and contributor to Crap Towns. As head, together with Tom, of Idle Industries, he has worked on creative development for clients including the Guardian and Channel 4. He has degrees in philosophy and graphic design from Oxford and St Martin's respectively, and in August 2004 became chairman and founder member of the Cloud Appreciation Society.