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Tales From The Embassy: Communiqués From The Guild Of Transcultural Studies 1976–1991 by Dave Tomlin
Published by Strange Attractor Pbk 498 pp (2017)
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One night in 1976, a group of squatters entered the Cambodian Embassy in London, an opulent building that had remained empty for two years following the bloody revolution of the Khmer Rouge. For the next 15 years, this peculiar residence would play host to the Guild Of Transcultural Studies, an open platform for creative monomaniacs, radical metaphysicians, poets, prophets and exiles.
Dave Tomlin, founder of the Guild, member of the experimental music ensemble Third Ear Band, and contributor to the legendary underground newspaper International Times, traces a playful, semi-fictionalised, and highly readable path through this long occupation, illustrating the unfettered nature of its many occupants while providing a vivid portrayal of a more leisured age in which eccentricity could flourish more readily.
These humorous, perceptive, and deftly crafted vignettes boast a thinly disguised cast of provocateurs, including John Michell, earth mysteries sage and fortean, Nicholas Carr-Saunders, author of Alternative London, beat poets Harry Fainlight and George Andrews, playwright of The Warp Neil Oram, countercultural photographer and journalist John “Hoppy” Hopkins, and Sir Mark Palmer, aristocrat-turned-gypsy-traveller and male model impresario.