Deep in a wood in a valley in the Marches of Wales, by an abandoned railway line, there lives a 75 year old man called Bob Rowberry. His home is an ancient school bus whose engine has died and whose wheels have fallen off.
A Hero For High Times is the story of how he ended up in this broken down bus, on this abandoned line, in this forgotten part of the world. It tells of how, along the way, Procul Harum were named after his cat, how he sold Owsley acid to RD Laing, of how he annoyed Saddam Hussein and the IRA, and how he was freed from jail in Mexico by a popular uprising of the peasantry who had come to know him as ‘El Maestro’.
It’s also the story of his times, and the ideas that shaped him. It’s a story of why you know your birth sign, why you have friends called Willow, why Yoko Ono affected how we eat much more than Linda McCartney ever did, why sex and drugs and rock and roll once mattered more than money, why dance music stopped the New Age Travellers from travelling, and why you need to think twice before taking the brown acid.
– from Ian Marchant‘s new book, A Hero For High Times (Jonathan Cape, 2018) – extract repeated here with the kind permission of Ian.
This is the second part of my conversation with Bob Rowberry. The next episode of the Lumieres Podcast will feature a wonderful hour in the esteemed company of the aforementioned author of A Hero For High Times, Mr Ian Marchant himself. This will be released on the very same day as the book is launched. I didn’t actually plan it like that but it’s worked out perfectly!
The track I felt to play before this chat with Bob is the title track from the wonderful Jesca Hoop’s latest record, Memories Are Now. Everything about this song feels pertinent, from the references to living in the present, the role of memory and the sentiment of just cracking on with life.
I saw Jesca play live in Wolverhampton yesterday (5/2/18) and she was utterly magnificent. Go and see her if you get the chance, but in the meantime please visit her Bandcamp page to purchase a record or two for yourself.
Special thanks once again to Jayne Worthington for the wonderful portrait photography.
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- Settling into Border life
- The adventure we can’t mention!
- How Bob met author Ian Marchant
- Bob’s take on how A Hero For High Times came to be
- On being the subject of a book
- Opening doors in the publishing world
- Creating jewellery and working with metals
- Inspiration from the craftsmen of the Middle East
- Learning patience as a jeweller
- How Bob manages a day-to-day woodland life
- The impact of technology on Bob’s world
- One of Bob’s favourite things to do as a kid (this involves bullets, weapons and the army)
- Getting resourceful and acting on opportunities
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