There are so many walking books on sale these days, featuring walks for the young, the old, the inexperienced and infirm. However, writer Jack Carrion reckons to have found a gap in an overcrowded market and, after many months of painstaking research, his latest book, The Anarchists’ Walking Guide, goes on sale today.
So what’s different about Jack’s book? “Well”, said Jack, “all the walks have one thing in common: they studiously avoid rights of way. These walks don’t appear on any Ordnance Survey map, no sir. The emphasis is firmly on fun and revolutionary ferment: putting two fingers up to the Country Code. As the handiwork of imperialist lackeys and capitalist lickspittles, these petty rules should be broken at every opportunity”
It has been, of necessity, a covert operation. Jack worked hand in glove with the paramilitary wing of the Independent Ramblers Association: a shadowy group of individuals who, weary of government intransigence over the Right to Roam issue, decided to take the law into their own hands.
“It was hard working with a bunch of militant ramblers”, admits Jack. “If I had known just how hard it was going to be, I would probably have shelved the whole book idea. Anarchists are full of good intentions. The contributors promised faithfully to hit the printing deadlines, but deadlines came and went. They pleaded illness, or apathy, or said they'd just got a good job and weren't feeling quite so anarchic any more. One of them said: ‘Look, I'm an anarchist, right? I don't give a flying fuck about you, or your bourgeois little book. Now get out of my way before I crush you like a bug’. Yes, anarchists are full of good intentions, but they can be full of bullshit too”.
In more commonplace walking guides there’s too much of the puritan walk ethic that keeps ramblers plodding onward long after the enjoyment has gone. Jack, on the other hand, encourages his readers to trample all over SSSIs (Sites of Specially Subversive Interest), pick rare flowers and sabotage grouse shoots. Without giving a bugger for the consequences, they can traverse the manicured lawns of aristocrats whose entitlement to keep whole swathes of our green and pleasant land to themselves stems from picking the right arse to lick after the Norman invasion.
Some walking books recommend good pubs to visit. Well, Jack’s’s book takes his readers into really naff pubs: the ones that serve fizzy keg beer, have ‘coal effect’ fires and turn ramblers away. No self-respecting anarchists would actually want to drink in such a place, of course. They tramp straight through the lounge bar, pausing just long enough to use the loo and pocket a souvenir ashtray. If any landlord objects to muddy bootprints all over his carpet, walkers should show him Jack’s little red book, raise their fists in a concerted show of defiance and bellow “Man the barricades, comrades” at the startled drinkers propping up the bar.
To the usual, tedious catalogue of items that walkers should carry with them, Jack’s book sensibly adds rope, balaclava, camouflaged face-paint, hunting knife, surveillance equipment, industrial-strength bolt-cutters and a handy length of cheese wire (in case some stroppy farmer needs garrotting). “This stuff isn’t just for show”, said Jack. “Readers may need to break into a nuclear installation some day, or abseil down the north face of the NatWest bank. And when that time comes, they’ll need to be tooled up. Walkers of the world, unite!”...