A NEW book which traces the history of the counter-culture in the UK since the 1950s has just been published by writer and broadcaster Ian Marchant.

A Hero For High Times, subtitled A Younger Reader’s Guide to the Beats, Hippies, Freaks, Punks, Ravers, New-Age Travellers and Dog-on-a-Rope Brew Crew Crusties of the British Isles, 1956–1994, has several connections with the Malvern area, not least the Castlemorton 'invasion' of 1992.

Mr Marchant has set the book around a friend of his, 75-year-old Bob Rowberry, who lives in an ancient school bus hidden in the depths of the Welsh Marches.

"Bob tells me great stories, which I initially did not believe, including how the rock band Procul Harum was named after his cat.

"But when I heard that story confirmed from a different source, I began to think that someone should be writing this all down."

The book chart's Bob's transformation from a London wide boy into a denizen of the counter culture, along the way encountering key events and people, including the the Aldermaston anti-bomb marches, Oz magazine, anti-psychiatrist R D Laing, and much, much more.

As the 60s turn into the 70s, and then the 80s, Bob's story, intertwined with that of the author, takes in the Angry Brigade, the Divine Light Mission, Greenham Common, the Battle of the Beanfield and Swampy, and the rise of punk and then rave culture.

This is where Castlemorton comes in, as this massive unplanned event triggered the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994, the year that Mr Marchant has chosen to end his chronicle.

"I wasn't there, but I know there was some tension between the older travellers, the ones who had been on the road for years, and the younger ravers, who just wanted to keep the dance music going all night."

As the subtitle suggests, part of Mr Marchant's purpose in writing the book was to bring this part of the Britain's cultural history to a new generation.

He said: "Some references from those years are becoming increasingly difficult to understand. For instance, Pink Floyd's first album has a track called Chapter 24. Everyone listening to Pink Floyd at this time would have understood this as a reference to the I Ching. That sort of thing was in the mainstream of thought back then."

The connection with the Malvern area does not end with Castlemorton; although he lives in mid-Wales, Mr Marchant took a fishing hut beside the Severn at Upton to complete writing the book.

"I used to come to Malvern every week to shop for food to keep me going at the supermarket near Madresfield. So, thank you, Malvern, for helping me to complete the book."