“The society which has abolished every kind of adventure makes its own abolition the only possible adventure.” Paris, May 1968

Tuesday, 22 June 2010

The Unofficial Countryside

By the early 70s and fresh out of the Oxford Anarchist Group, Richard Mabey had decided to try and make a living as a natural history writer. In '72 Food For Free was published and I don't think that it has ever been out of print since. The following year saw the publication of Mabey's second book The Unofficial Countryside, a wonderful narrative of wildlife in the margins. No picture postcard rural idylls here but the authors recollections of mooching about abandoned gravel working, bomb sites, semi-derelict canals and the hidden world under the motorway flyover. Like a lot of other books, my copy did not survive the transient lifestyle I was living at the time and I never found another copy to replace it. I had more or less given up hope of reading it again when Little Toller Books republished it last month. It's just as good as I remember it and with an introduction by that other wanderer around the margins of life, Iain Sinclair, is well worth the tenner cover price.

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