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Intolerably Hip

front cover to Intoleraby Hip by Andrew Kerr

 

Intolerably Hip
Andrew Kerr
p/b, 12 May 2011
ISBN: 978-1-872914-49-7. £14

Andrew Kerr is the man who, with Arabella Churchill, put on the Glastonbury Fair of 1971. For years he has been consulted by authors and archivists in pursuit of festival history. Now he has written a book about his life.It is called ‘Intolerably Hip’ and it’s published at £14 by Frontier on 12 May 2011, just before the 40th anniversary of the unforgettable fair.

Though the landowner, Michael Eavis, had held an event in the previous year and has sustained the festival ever since, it was Kerr’s spiritual and environmental ideology which linked Glastonbury Fair to the Solstice and the landscape of Avalon. The regard for ancient gathering places and significant dates is essential.

But there’s much more here because Andrew Kerr is giving his whole life, from a farming childhood in the 1940s to his recent return to Somerset. He’s not a celebrity himself but he has met all sorts of influential people, from Jacqueline and Bobby Kennedy to the Grateful Dead. His stories alter in tone when recalling the late 1950s and 60s working for Arabella’s father, Randolph Churchill, later engaged upon the official biography of his father, Sir Winston. Randolph was a difficult man, permanently at war with the press, but Kerr has provided a credible and kind portrait. After Randolph died in 1968, his son ‘young’ Winston complained that Andrew had gone “intolerably hip”.

It was true. Back in London, the author was having the time of his life. Even Jimi Hendrix came to his flat. But while leaving the Isle of Wight festival, Mr Kerr had a vision of what this country really needed, which was a ‘proper festival’. He put all he had into the Glastonbury of ‘71. He linked the Fair to the Solstice and the sacred landscape of Avalon. The iconic pyramid stage, inspired by his old friend, John Michell, was sited to face the midsummer sunrise.The musicians played at their own expense. The valley and tor worked their magic, the sun shone and entry was free. Kerr’s aim of the whole thing? To conserve natural resources, to respect life and to awaken the spirit. Our man had spent all his cash on Glastonbury, but he was right on target: England had been waiting for this!

Afterwards, he headed North with his partner to live at Scoraig, a Scottish crofting community. Later he set off for a variety of yachting jobs to discover all the problems one could possibly have with a boat. Another wave of idealism had him back in the West country putting on the first and only Whole Earth Show in 1992. More recently, Kerr has been remembered by journalists, social historians and festival archivists as a catalyst, ‘the man that made it happen’ - though sadly, his co-founding pioneer, Arabella, died in 2007. He has returned to Somerset where Michael Eavis is still farming and the festival is celebrating its 40th year. Looking back down the years Andrew Kerr is writing about our lives too. He describes theuncertainties of our era yet reminds us of the importance of great gatherings and shared experiences.

As autobiographers go, Kerr is an ideal type, say the publishers. ‘He’s generous yet light-handed and understated at turns while recounting some tricky situations in a life of opposites. The pages are enlivened by contradictory characters, from rock stars, music lovers, crofters and druids to world statesmen, royalty, trillionaires and bloodthirsty generals. It’s a good story and he’s a storyteller through and through’.

Intolerably Hip / Andrew Kerr. 12 May 2011, FRONTIER £14 p/b, 384 pp inc illus, ISBN: 978 1872914 49 7




 

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