Drifting and striding 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.

Monday, January 7, 2019

EMPIRE OF THE STUNNED


Between Christmas and the New Year I went with Foster Spragge on the final walk of her As the Crow Flies project.  Mat Clum of Tickbird&Rhino was there too.  He’s the one on the left in the picture below (taken by Foster) in the Woolwich tunnel.


By the time you read this, an exhibition of drawings done during these walks (along with others), will be on display at the Westminster Reference Library, 35 St Martin's St, London, WC2H 7HP.  Hurry along, why don't you?


I joined Mat and Foster in Hackney Wick (above) – they’d started further upstream, and we walked to Woolwich, like this:


And then this:



We were more or less following the Capital Ring, though for one reason and another we strayed from that route occasionally.  For most of the time I really didn’t know where I was, which was great, since usually when I walk I’m the one holding the map, plotting the route, making the decisions.

But I do know that at one point we were walking along the Greenway - Plaistow, East Ham sort of way - which is built on the embankment of a sewer.


Frankly, it was a bit bleak up there, and seeing and this sign didn’t add to our sense of well-being.


I mean, we weren't cyclists, so we were presumably not being "targeted" but that still left a lot of possibilities.
   There was a great deal of flotsam and jetsam strewn around atop the sewer embankment, and the most intriguing by far was this safe.  


There must be a good story about where it came from, who carried it up there, how they got it open and what they found inside, but not all stories reveal themselves entirely.

And towards the end of the walk, things all turned a bit JG Ballard – high rises, low flying aircraft (from London City Airport), even a kind of terminal beach, which is by no means the worst way for a walk to turn.





Actually there are times when any walk can turn Ballardian, and it happened to me again just the other day walking in a Battersea Park.  


And likewise here when I was walking in Chicago not so long back.


Do all drained pools invoke Ballard? I suppose for many of us at this point in history, they do.  I wonder what or who they invoked before he wrote about them?

Some details of the exhibition are here:








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