On the Marshes review

9 Kingsnorth powerstation

Another interesting review of my book, On the Marshes. I love the fact that it’s inspiring people to want to visit the area and interesting to see which parts of the book they choose to talk about. This reviewer enjoys the scene in which I get trapped on an island in October with a rising tide and have to be rescued by a lifeboat. I was a little preoccupied to take a picture at that moment so here is a shot of the river from Darnet Island on a quieter day.

Caught by the River review

6 Phil Hann, Dave Thorpe and me

Some ‘weekend hovercraft enthusiasts’ who helped me on my journey across the marshes.

After a 14 hour stint of bird surveying on Sheppey it was nice to come home this evening and read this great review of my book by the fabulous Caught by the River. It is interesting how my walk and encounters are seen by someone else and I am delighted the reviewer wants to trace my footsteps.

A Good Read – Russell Brand – Revolution.

revolution-russell-brandRevolution – Russell Brand

Russell Brand? Never gave him much thought until recently. He was just some quite funny bloke with a massive ego and a lot of women. Then I heard he was actually a troubled soul who wanted to start a revolution and build Utopia and he began to sound like my kind of man.

I watched his documentary, The Emperors New Clothes and came away fired up, wanting to do something but not knowing quite where to direct this energy. I feel the same way after reading his book Revolution.

Revolution sets forth a case as to why our present economic and governmental system is exploiting ordinary people to make profit for a few wealthy men and women. It sets out what the alternative could be and it makes these arguments accessible. So far, so good.

True, Russell Brand is not the most coherent of writers. He goes off on rambling asides which sometimes seem to lead nowhere. The sort of stories which probably work much better in Stand Up than in print. However, he does make ideas which could be dry and hard work, readable. He uses his fame and notoriety in well intentioned ways and I won’t knock him for that.

I don’t agree with all of Russ’s ideas but by half way through I’m thinking, ‘Great, Fantastic, we’re going to start a socially and ecologically sound collective. Where do I sign? Where do I start? What’s step one?’ Problem is, Russell Brand’s book never tells me.

The man himself would know doubt say that, if he sets himself up as a leader to follow then it is against the principle of a collective, but as he never gives us any ideas of where the ordinary person in the street should begin then I’m left feeling demoralised. Feeling that I am being done over by all these rich people and am powerless to stop it.

Another chapter or two giving some grass roots ideas and organisations to get the ball rolling would have been really useful. A few tips on how to stop paying your taxes and avoid jail would also have been helpful.  Revolutions need talk, personally I think they probably also need leaders but what they need most of all is action.

A good read – Neil Ansell, Deer Island

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Just finished reading Deer Island and loved its simplicity and sadness. I have a habit of meeting and gravitating towards people such as those Neil describes. People who have lived in squats, who have lived rough, who have given up on planning life as life has a habit of scattering plans to dust.

Neil tells a story I understand; drifting between helping the homeless and being homeless, of falling into chaos and finding years of your life swept in a whirlpool vaster than the Gulf of Corrywreckan he visits. I liked the way he chose to tell this story, not as some Eastenders melodrama, wailing, ‘me and my poor life.’ but, instead with an undercurrent of responsibility for his own choices.

This is not nature writing but an account of a tumultuous life which drove him to seek, if only for a brief time, solitude on a remote Scottish island, to maybe close a chapter and find some resolution within himself to the sadness of seeing people he had come to care about die of poverty, squalor and addiction.

This is not nature writing but at times the exquisite simplicity of it made me want to cry. Neil’s account of finding two otter cub skeletons in a cave was told with a sparseness that made it truly moving.

You are left wondering what happened to this man after he left his island. The books final line says he has never been good at keeping hold of things, which makes you feel he is still searching for his answer.

Neil Ansell says, ‘security is an illusion. Everything you have can be snatched away in an instant.’ Lord, I know this to be true but, despite its truth, I found myself hoping that he finds some security.