My book review of 'Featherhood' by Charlie Gilmour
I read this book in one sitting. I thought it beautiful, moving, charming and thought-provoking on so many levels. I didn't want it to end, but when it did, I needed to tell everyone I met to read it.
A book about nature vs nurture, fathers and sons, rejection and acceptance, it is written by a young man who, with his future wife, comes to rear a magpie chick which has fallen out of the nest in a nearby Bermondsey junkyard.
It means feeding the bird they christen Benzene with worms every 20 minutes, removing houseplants and ornaments from its destructive path and taking a relaxed attitude to personal and domestic cleanliness as they share their home and their life with this wild creature.
In caring for the bird, the author confronts the emotions and events that have troubled him in his youth and, with a greater self-awareness, he realises he can start afresh with a new hope and direction.
This is the story of Charlie Gilmour. If you know the name, it will probably be for his drug and alcohol-fuelled protest at tuition fees in 2010 where he climbed the Cenotaph in London. He was given four months in prison for violent disorder.
He relates that moment, and the incidents leading up to it, with a quiet honesty just as he addresses the other events and emotions in his life.
Despite a privileged and loving family life, adopted by the Pink Floyd guitarist, David Gilmour, Charlie could never come to terms with the rejection of his biological father, the poet Heathcote Williams who abandoned Charlie and his mother, the novelist Polly Samson, when Charlie was just a few years old.
The book exposes the shocking cruelty of a man towards his children, the sad fact of his continuing influence, and the bizarre coincidence that he too cared for a wild bird, Jack Daw.
It's a wonderful read and you hope that the author has cast his demons aside and can now focus on the good in his life, the people who have cared for him no matter what, his own young family, and the influence of a wild creature in transcending social norms and expectations, cutting through to the essence of who we are.
I strongly recommend it!