In praise of great mavericks

Dec 03, 2017

David Boyle writes…

I met the folk singer Pete Seeger just before he died. He was jamming outside in the July sunshine, with some young violinists, playing Ashokan Farewell. He was at a conference near the Hudson River about local currencies where I had just been speaking.

It was a great honour to meet him, a friend of Woody Guthrie no less, partly also because – when I was growing up – the only 45rpm single my parents possessed was Seeger singing Little Boxes. I told him this and he told me how the author, Malvina Reynolds, composed the song driving just outside San Francisco when it came into her head – she said to her husband ‘Stop the car! I feel a song coming on…’

It is a powerful song about sprawling suburbs, but it goes beyond that in my favourite lines:

“They were doctors
and lawyers
and business executives
and they’re all made out of ticky-tacky
and they all look just the same…”

Because Little Boxes was not just about houses, it was about minds – “tinned minds”, as John Betjeman put it. The song is a hymn to the only kind of Liberalism I recognise, which is prepared to think outside the little boxes, even though the world thinks differently.

I don’t believe this need to encourage the kind of nihilistic approach to everything that you might hear, to choose a random example, on most BBC comedy panels – I may be showing my age here – but it is an approach to life and politics which dares to think differently and to stand out from the crowd.

I have also realised that a great deal of my writing has been about the maverick approach, so I have collected an anthology of three short books, all about people living or working differently, and daring to refuse to submit to the generally accepted tramlines of thought. I have called it Great British Mavericks.

The first of these books, Scandal: How homosexuality became a crime is also in a series of Goodreads Giveaways before Christmas. So if you want to enter the draw for a new one, click here…

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Scandal by David Boyle


by David Boyle

Giveaway ends December 23, 2017.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter Giveaway

For me, the mavericks are the glory of the nation, and we need to find ways of encouraging more of them. Here’s a start anyway – do feel free to buy the book for Christmas!

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