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Alternative London by Nicholas Saunders
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Alternative London

by Nicholas Saunders

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462251,994 (3.7)None
  1. 00
    Steal This Book by Abbie Hoffman (Sylak)
    Sylak: This is basically what the same book looks like on the other side of the Atlantic.
  2. 00
    How to Live in New York on Five Dollars a Day by Joan M Feldman (Sylak)
    Sylak: Another great guide for another city.
  3. 00
    Ultra-guide, paris la nuit by Jacques-Louis Delpal (Sylak)
    Sylak: Essential guide to a different city.
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Review of the 3rd Edition 1972

At first glance there are several notable differences from the first edition published only two years earlier.
Firstly the front and back covers have been flipped round.
On the first edition the checkered spiral or tunnel view was the front cover, whilst the Penrose triangle formed the back.
In this edition it is the other way around, printed in red and yellow rather than black and white; and the back cover (now the checkered spiral) has been printed up-side-down (Saunders did enjoy his optical illusions; let's face it, the man once built his house so that the duck pond was half in and half out of his front room - now that's class). There is even a secret message printed up-side-down on the bottom of the last page which reads:

"¡ʞɔɐq ǝɥʇ sᴉ sᴉɥʇ soɔ, puǝ ɹǝɥʇo ǝɥʇ ʇɐ ʇɹɐʇs puɐ ɹǝʌo uɹnʇ :suoᴉʇɔnɹʇsuI
uopuo˥ ǝʌᴉʇɐuɹǝʇl∀"

But the biggest improvement is the size! The first edition was less than one centimetre thick, whereas this edition (if you'll pardon me dropping metric) is a chunky 1 inch thick - partially due to some heavier paper stock, I'll accept; but even so it has exactly double the number if pages compared with 1970.
It is also filled with some new illustrations (many sent in by readers), but has also kept some old favourites - most notable has to be the set of six used to represent 'drugs', which in my opinion are the funniest I've seen since Gilbert Shelton.
All the legal stuff has been updated (up to the 11th of July 1972).
The section on 'crafts' has expanded from 3 and a half pages in 1970 to 28 pages in this edition, as has most sections of the book with the exception of some of the hard core hippie related topics; 'Communes' for instance has reduced in importance. There is also much more emphasis on knowing your legal rights and circumventing crooked coppers who are prone to 'bend' the law if given half a chance.
Already the flavour of this book is creeping towards the 1980's culture rather than that of the 60s.
Reading through the book like a novel (which was not its original intention) certainly gives you a pretty good flavour for the times.

Whereas the first edition may have been essential reading for young people, this edition is a vast improvement because it is able to go into so much more depth rather than just skimming over the surface of each subject. It really does feel like it now contains all you need to know to live in the capital. There is even a copy of Paul E. Garbutt's map of the London Underground so that you can plan you trips beforehand. ( )
  Sylak | Dec 9, 2016 |
Review of the first edition 1970

This is (was) the ultimate guide to scrounging and cheating (some would call it surviving) your way about London. From finding some where to live (legally or otherwise), furnishing and heating it for very little; to, feeding yourself for nothing (or, almost) and making your own money (from busking, pulling cons, ticket touting, etc.).
Plus, a price guide for buying all your street drugs without getting ripped-off. The advice on sex is actually remarkably sensative and very well writen. There is even a comprehensive list of good craft suppliers, and more besides.
It's a pretty eclectic guide from the man who transformed Neal's Yard from a smelly urine stained back street into the multi-million pound commodity it is today.

It's up to you how you choose to use the information, for good or for bad; but it is a fantastic little tool that helps you avoid the many pitfalls the capital has that no-one really talks about.

It was updated no less than five times between 1970 and 1977 (six - if you include the expanded Alternative England and Wales), with a final version of the London guide appearing in 1982. ( )
  Sylak | Sep 13, 2016 |
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This book is for Londoners, not tourists.  It contains current information that concerns the more sensitive and active people in London. [Introduction to the first edition 1970]
This is a handbook for young people settled in London whose interests are outside the commercial field. [Third Edition 1972]
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