I'm Alan Hubbard, who are you?
Independent Publishing Network £15.95. ISBN: 978-1-80049-140-3
The journey starts in the smog-ridden industrial streets of Salford during the Second World War. Having lost his father to cancer before reaching the age of two, Alan and his two elder brothers were brought up by his mother in relative poverty. We are then taken on a journey through derelict post-war Salford and the playgrounds that youth can find in such chaos. Like myself, Alan started his working life in engineering but, after finding climbing through a youth club, work is a distraction to the lures of moors and mountains. The folly of youth, the mistakes made and the voyage to adulthood are all depicted against the backdrop of a gloomy city and the escapes to the beautiful places that climbing takes you to.
We are then taken on a journey through decades when, like most climbers, he was working to fund the next adventure, be it the Highlands of Scotland, the sea cliffs of Cornwall, the Alps and beyond. The big difference with this book is the philosophies that are underlying the whole of the narrative. Alan has a love of nature and of fairness and the often harsh reality of the politics that shape our lives are in juxtaposition with this. So, if you're after a read purely in the interests of climbing, this is not for you. If you want to read something with substance and meaning it is without doubt worth a read. If you cross Perrin's 'The Villain' with Gibran's 'The Prophet', you are somewhere near.
The contrast in the chapters keep you constantly interested. Chapter 7 explores the wild sea cliffs of Cornwall and the ensuing adventures. Chapter 14, Dogs, is about the love you have for these amazing companions that enrich your life for a brief time and Chapter 19 is an impassioned rant on the state of politics now. This chapter is absolutely unapologetic, chillingly accurate and will be uncomfortable for anyone on the wrong side of politics.
The book has a beauty in the depiction of our natural world and the love for his wife Jenny and all his friends and a contrast in trying to understand the cruelty that political decisions can make to normal people. It is a true autobiography of a fascinating life. This has been a labour of love for Alan over the last few years and this is clear in the quality of writing.
All profits from this book are being distributed to various charities including Amnesty International and Médecins Sans Frontières.
Stuart Wood, Climber magazine, April 2021
The book includes a brief glossary of climbing terms for non-climbers