Another bird-as-a-means book, and one I found compelling, is this memoir by the all-but-unacknowledged son of the late Heathcote Williams, once a notable eccentric, poet, playwright, documentarian and lead activist in London’s “squatting” movement. Gilmour writes with engaging frankness about both the injured magpie he “fathers” and his longing for his own father (who also housed a bird, a jackdaw, in his time) as it played out during Williams’s last couple of decades – a period in which Williams’s behaviour seems to have moved beyond anything the term “eccentricity” would encompass. It’s an uplifting book in some ways, but don’t read it if you don’t want to feel the pain. 

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