9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
This review is from: Free: Adventures on the margins of a wasteful society (Paperback)There have been quite a few books recently about how to live for almost nothing. Usually the message is: shop carefully, take advantage of free offers and promotions and go to places where culture and entertainment are free. All sound advice. Katherine Hibbert, however, goes a very big step further. She quits her job, leaves her home, and goes out onto the streets of London with nothing. As one whose only contact with homeless people is saying hello to the genial tramp who tries to sell me the Big Issue on the way to work every day, I was curious to know what would happen next.
This is essentially a book about squatting. I assumed we'd be following the author on a steep downward depressing spiral into filth, squalor and crack dens, but I was amazed to find her life did not go that way at all and the book is surprisingly uplifting. Katharine lives in a succession of squats, lives by "skipping" discarded food from bins behind supermarkets and sandwich shops, and gets around on a bike she finds abandoned and fixes it herself using tools borrowed from a squatter-friendly bike repair enterprise.
Amonng the lessons we learn are: 1. some squatters are nice people; 2. your home is unlikely to be taken over by squatters if you just nip out to buy a newspaper; 3. squatters often make their homes quite comfortable; 4. shops and supermarkets throw out vast amounts of perfectly edible food every day; 5. hitch-hiking is still possible in the UK.
So was Katherine's new money-free lifestyle a success? You'll have to read the book to find out. I can tell you it's made me now begrudge every penny I spend on anything!