Sid Perou: 30 Years as an Adventure Cameraman. Book 1. Light into the Darkness. Includes 45 minute DVD of video clips.
By Kim Metzgar
I saw a brief mention in the NSS News that Sid Perou had come out with a book. The mention of this British caver’s name, even though I had not heard it for many years, brought a smile to my face. I remembered as a young teenager discovering some of his movies on public television, broadcast in a series called Realms of Darkness. The series included a feature on caves in Mexico, one on Castleguard Cave in Canada, and other expeditions.
While I am not an expedition caver, these films fascinated me. They exposed viewers to what it was like to be on an expedition where discoveries were made (or not), the conditions these men and women were exposed to, and the mindset of a great adventurer.
So I was anxious to pick up a copy of the book, which I ordered from Sid himself, now living in Thailand. (He autographed it for me as well).
It was every bit as good as his films. One could not only picture the group of British cavers sitting in the pub following an expedition (such as his film of Otter Hole), but now hear the stories of these films and others that I had not been exposed to.
Interestingly, Perou notes in the introduction, that “This book has been written over many years, but a lot of the memories are still strong. I read my own book and wonder at the remarkably colourful life that I have led.”
Perou, now in his 70s, recounts how he got interested in caving, as well as how he decided to begin making movies of caves. His first film was on the cave rescue crews and tragically, the first bit of filming he did was of a man who died while being rescued from a cave. The dvd clips show actual footage of the victim.
He also gives a behind-the-scenes look at what it took to raise funding for an expedition, plan it, ship the gear, etc., and at the sometimes disastrous turns those plans took, especially with an expedition to Iran.
I cannot begin to emulate the style, color and character of this book. The stories should be left for readers to discover, perhaps with a vision of Perou sitting around a campfire, or in a pub, recounting the good old days. Each chapter is like pulling out a gem from a long-forgotten but recently rediscovered jewelry box.