It was living here that I fell in love with the natural world. Everything was connected, wild, confusing, terrifying and comforting. I didn’t think of what people did as being separate from what the birds and the beasts did. Homes popped out of the ground like shrubs. People planted fences in the same way that the maroon docks seeded themselves in piles of builders’ waste. The earth birthed blue and white crockery pieces, while berries grew on barbed wire, and television aerials throbbed with incoming cartoon energy.
Where? is a work of creative non-fiction that combines prose, comics, photos, found archival text, drawings and more. It is about growing up in the countryside in the late 1980s and early 1990s, my Dad’s death in 2017, and the history of a big hill we lived beneath in south Shropshire, UK, called Titterstone Clee.
Where? is about grief, belonging, and memory. The story slips and slides in time and geography. There are tales of empty mansions, of being bullied; cooking with my Dad, messing around with my brother, exploring forests; being an adult faced with an ill father; history and folklore of the Clee Hills; of high-society scandals, prejudice and fear; industrial decline and automation; medieval romances and Civil War massacres; radar stations and ancient way markers; of being a kid, of hospitals, of growing old, of the seasons passing, of my family, of my Dad and his kindnesses; of how I became whatever it is I am, and how this big hill was a backdrop to so much of it.
I serialised the book in four parts in my zine Minor Leagues as handmade zine/books, each over 100 pages in length, brimming with drawings, prose, paintings, found art and more. There’s a book version coming later this year.
Where? is about local legends and history, about memories and their complex relationship with location, how the places we live in shape us and how we shape them, but at its heart it’s about a son’s love for his father.Andy Oliver, Broken Frontier