Drifting and striding, in Hollywood and elsewhere, with Geoff Nicholson - author of The Lost Art of Walking, and Walking in Ruins withcholson, author of Toff Nidrifting and stomping withcholson, author of The Lost Art of Walking, considers the narrower and wider shores of obsessive pedestrianism.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012


It seems I still haven’t finished with HG Wells and his walking.  I just discovered a passage from Jerome K. Jerome’s My Life and Times:  actually I found it quoted in Michael Moorcock’s recently published anthology London Peculiar and Other Nonfiction.  Jerome had been under the weather and Wells had invited him down to Folkestone for some sea air and a rest.

Jerome writes, “To ‘rest’ in the neighbourhood of Wells is like curling yourself up and trying to go to sleep in the centre of a cyclone. When he wasn't explaining the Universe, he was teaching me new games—complicated things that he had invented himself, and under stress of which my brain would reel. There are steepish hills on the South Downs. We went up them at four miles an hour, talking all the time. On the Sunday evening a hurricane was raging with a driving sleet. Wells was sure a walk would do us good—wake us up. While Mrs. Wells was not watching, we tucked the two little boys into their mackintoshes and took them with us.
      ‘We'll all have a blow,’ said Wells.”

I don’t know that Michael Moorcock was ever all that much of a walker, and at this point in history it's hard to believe anyone could ever walk down the street dressed the way he is in the photograph above.  In any case he certainly isn’t much of a walker now, being a wheelchair user.  Iain Sinclair once told me the story of when he, Moorcock and Alan Moore did an event at the British Library in London.  This is an image from event, which I find enormously pleasing and moving for reasons I still can’t quite put my finger on.

The event was a great success, it was afterwards that the problems started.  Sinclair writes, “nice & tragic image: the meal that followed was quite an adventure, Mike in his chair, Alan blind in one eye and deaf in one ear, talking and rambling through traffic, down the madness of Euston Road - finding nowhere to eat. And, despite all this, the group were invisibles in the city, nobody rushing to salute those culture heroes.”

A damned shame, I'd say.

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