Cocker is an unlikely radical in some ways, but at bottom the book he’s written – however measured, equable and intelligent – is a call for revolution.
The weight of the prevailing aesthetic – today favouring the brooding and sublime, the sensitive, the straight-faced – is as heavy as ever.
For David George Haskell, the forest never really ends.
Gilbert White’s Natural History Of Selborne (1788) has been regarded since its publication as a landmark text in British nature-writing. Does it still cast a shadow? Do the nature writers of the past decade owe White a debt?
To me, at least, the Highlands dishes up its treats in small portions.
“For centuries we have prized the same prejudices”, the vicar of an isolated Warwickshire village told H. V. Morton in 1926, “and we have grown up as naturally as my currant bushes out there. We were, you see, locked up here together with our fields and our imaginations.”
There is more than one way to lose yourself in a forest. Keeping still – “as still and quiet as a tree” – will do the job as surely as stumbling mapless into the wild, to judge from Sooyong Park’s deceptively intense account of filming endangered Amur tigers in south-eastern Siberia.