Home | Book
and Film Reviews
Nine miles: two winters of anti-roads
protest by Jim Hindle
Jim says in his intro, this book doesnt claim to provide a
full history of the campaign against the Newbury Bypass (the length
of which gives the book its title). All he sets out to do is tell
the story of his own, personal, journey.
Just like schnews itself, the story begins during the heady days
of the anti-Criminal Justice Bill campaign, in a squatted Courthouse
in Brighton. We then follow Jim as he travels the country
on foot and hitching for the most part and gets more involved
in the anti-roads protest camps which flourished at the time.
As well as Newbury, he spent time at Stanworth Valley in Lancashire
and Fairmile in Devon.
He writes vividly about the campaigns, and how it felt to be caught
up in it all; his experiences of living in the trees, digger-diving,
and all the new survival skills he acquired along the way (using
axes, tightening walkways, cooking over fires etc). He also makes
some thoughtful observations about the wider landscape and wildlife,
the history of the surrounding area, and the relationships between
the protestors and the wider world.
One of the great things about Newbury was the magical diversity
of the camps which evolved along the nine miles of route, giving
people the chance to choose one which fitted their needs/ habits/
dietary preferences. During the clearance work, I spent
a lot of time down at the south end of the route I dont
know if our paths ever crossed - I think his descriptions of camp-life,
and the characters he met, would surely resonate with anyone whod
spent much time on-route.
The only thing I found unsettling was his use of peoples
names throughout the text when I began reading I assumed
that hed changed them, then realized that he hadnt.
Which doesnt seem the most security-conscious decision, but
maybe he asked them all first?
Like Battle for the Trees and Copse, this
books strength comes from being made by someone who was actually
there, and intensely involved. A much better resource for radical
historians than stories written at the time by paid journalists,
academics, and other casual observers who never quite got it.
When we were at Newbury, we were keen to learn from those who had
gone before us stories of the Vietcongs tunnels and
the womens peace camp at Greenham Common (and their interaction
with the residents of Newbury) were particular favourites!
and I believe the world could do with some more peoples history,
especially when its oral or self-published.
Overall, a fabulous, fascinating book, well worth the tenner and
the shelf-space I thoroughly recommend it.