Initial reactions to ‘Wire’ and ‘Power’ – I found the descriptions evocative and also reminiscent of forbidden forays of my own early teenage life with my best friend or my dog into old bombed sites and semi-urban lanes on the outskirts of Manchester – with their potential threats of meeting with men in wait for teenage girls, gang knife fights between rival football teams and the odd murder.
Many of the descriptions also resonate with areas along my daily walk in Cambridge that I have chosen for ‘Transitions’. And the book is definitely one source of inspiration to which I shall return many times as I progress with that project.
But I agree with Marion Shoard:
This book could perhaps have had more investigative rigour. The edgelands now need something beyond a merely subjective celebration of their identity. Far more than our towns and countryside, they are being subjected to ceaseless change. Wild space is being prettified at the expense of its character and creatures. Industrial ruins are being cleared away.
We could be in the process of losing this landscape just as we are discovering its charms. Should we be trying to conserve it, as we conserve the best of rural environments? Or would any attempt to regulate this space destroy the wildness that makes it special?
It is time for us to consider what relationship we want to see in the long term between our activity in the edgelands, their epic infrastructure, their unique wildlife and industrial archaeology and their peculiar place in our imagination.