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.

Thursday, August 15, 2019


Of course I enjoy walking in the wide open spaces.  What kind of fool doesn’t?

And yet I realize, all else being equal (and I also realize that in this context all else is never equal), that given the choice between walking in open spaces or taking a turn down some potentially claustrophobic, potentially threatening alleyway, most of the time I’d take the latter.  

I also realize that in the greater scheme of things we may all have bigger, more pressing, choices that need to be made.

Even so, finding myself in London, more or less in the City, t’other week I started walking down and photographing a few narrow constricted alleyways, as seen above. 

Did I think of Tony Christie singing ‘Avenues and Alleyways?’  Yes, I’m afraid I did.

And what is it about constricted spaces? Does it have something to do with the birth canal, or does it have something to do with pretending to be the kInd of guy who can comfortably walk down mean streets, and damn the risk of being mugged or blackjacked? A little of both, I'm guessing.

Above is the (or at least a) bridge in Silverlake, in LA. which I used to think was sung about by Red Hot Chilli Peppers in ‘Under the Bridge’ but various sources place that bridge in many different locations all over LA.

This is (or at anyway was) in Chelmsford, but I understand there have been some 'improvements' around the station.

This is definitely in Berkeley:

And this I'm reasonably sure is Tinderbox Alley in Mortlake  (I had to walk down it because of the name), and here it’s made somewhat more constricted by somebody parking a car in it.

And back home in Manningtree, I found this amazingly constricted space between two garden fences.  

Again I felt I had to walk down it, and at the end there was an undergrowth or perhaps overgrowth of nettles – and I broke on through to the other side and found I was on a dangerous stretch of road with no pavement or grass verge, where any passing car might run me down.
Friends, it made me feel ALIVE.

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