I should really hold this post back, lest you think me some hippy. But no matter. This ‘aint the last hippy book that’s coming your way.
I tucked into this with enthusiasm, high on the fumes of Jay Griffith’s Wild, ready for more heady accounts of grassroots connection to land. This book is political where Griffith’s is visceral, which makes for a harder read. In fact, the first 100 pages are a bloody slog. To make his point of the importance of being grounded in one’s home soil, I understand McIntosh has to give a detailed account of the history of his Scottish island home. However, I’m from Hampshire. ’nuff said.
Page 100 onwards, however, was a different story. Of course, it helps McIntosh that his local past is Celtic and a good deal more poetic than I imagine my Hampshire area would be, and that his family has been there for generations so his rootedness feels authentic. But these quibbles aside, his argument for preserving, valuing and deeply knowing where you come from physically is extremely compelling, and is an encouraging call to arms for communities facing corporate intrusion into their areas. His argument for the importance in retaining the history and integrity of even a small community is unusual – and thus all the more important – in a world that merrily subjugates such things for motorway tarmac (background: community is threatened by conglomerate wanting to build a superquarry.) It’s also a refreshingly honest account of the difficulty of galvanising the very community McIntosh was attempting to help – it takes time and a huge mindshift to take on the battles that McIntosh fights for.
I can’t say it’s made me research the history of northern Hampshire, though. And he’s rude about the Telegraph. I love the Telegraph.
Change: Encouragement to fight against the Man. And a hatred of quarrying.