Wednesday, 14 August 2013
Last link to the alternative society.
There was much about the so called "alternative society" of the late 60's and early 70's that could make you want to tear your hair out. The trouble was that many of the people involved had developed the open mind to such an extent that their brains appeared to fall out. The lack of any coherent class analysis was a major shortcoming but for all of that the movement spawned a wealth of interesting and creative ideas and projects. Alternative papers and magazines may have been confused but they were inspiring and most of all, they were fun. One of the more famous and successful projects was the BIT information service in Notting Hill. At one time our cottage in Devon was a BIT crash pad and we played host to an assortment of visitors who having got our address from BIT just turned up on the doorstep. Some were just passing through. Others felt the need to escape the city for a spell. Others just needed to escape! It was a different world. One of the leading lights in the alternative society, and BIT in particular, was Nick Albery who I remember as a kindly and enthusiastic bloke who genuinely tried to live according to his principles. Nick is sadly no longer with us but his memory is enshrined in a most unusual walking club. The Saturday Walkers Club has no leaders and everyone is responsible for their own navigation and logistics. What the club does is provide, in the true spirit of BIT, all of the information that the enthusiastic pedestrian needs in order to make their own way. In all, 82 walks near London and reachable by public transport, are listed on the club website and also in the two volumes of the Time Out Country Walks; and there's another thing - who today would think that Time Out was once considered to be a radical publication?