Book Review

Ghost Milk by Iain Sinclair is a personal recollection of journeys around regeneration sites particularly in London and the olympic site.   A variety of themes emerge – the coalition between big business and government, the disregard of community, the obsession with grand projects.  Another theme is the conflict between community perceptions and outsider perceptions.  What appears to the outsider as a wasteland to the insider may be a treasured landscape.

Sinclair refers to the promoters of schemes using terminology such as “Creating a place where people want to live.” and talking about “the regeneration of a blasted wilderness ….but omitted to mention the fact that they had created the mess by demolishing everything that stood within the enclosure of the blue fence.”   Allotment holders dispossessed along with other groups such as cyclists.

There is much reference to perimeter fences and the obligatory notice “footpath closed, keep clear”  Where once people roamed free, barriers are erected, security imposed, areas that were once regarded as public open space privatised and commoditized.  Order and structure imposed on what was once random and organic.

Although the book is interesting and there are links between the issues raised in London and what is happening in parts of Cornwall, it does not lend itself to providing a consistent critique of policy.   It is more of a literary ramble.  Despite this there are insights into the world of regeneration and its real as distinct from advertised impacts.

‘Ghost Milk.  Calling time on the Grand Project’ by Iain Sinclair.

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