Some suggestion here that I may have been “born” a writer. Pretty much from the time I could read, I used to “hear” or perhaps “write” a narrative voice in my head as I went about in the world. “The plucky boy walked down the dangerous, litter strewn street, his eyes scanning the roof tops for ruffians, snipers, death rays,” that kind of thing. Yeah, I never said it was Proust: more Enid Blyton edging into James Bond. I was a long way from discovering Raymond Chandler.
In reality I was walking down the only intermittently mean streets of Sheffield, but in my head I was walking down the Champs Elysees, Hollywood Boulevard, Broadway, or whatever. And I sometimes I walked down cities of my own imagination and construction where the streets had names like Cosmic Boulevard or Death Alley, names that were a little over deterministic no doubt, though Sheffield famously once did have a street named Truelove’s Gutter.
So yesterday I went to a radio station in downtown Los Angeles to record a conversation with a producer, who was in fact in Toronto, and who’s making a program about pedestrianism. And it just didn’t seem right to drive all the way there, park in the lot, do some spiel about walking, and then drive home again, but walking there and back would have involved a 13 mile round trip and that didn’t seem right either, so I drove most of the way, then parked far enough away that I’d have to do a mile walk in each direction to get to and from the studio. Not the stuff of the very greatest pedestrianism, I know.
There were a couple of streets I could have taken to walk to the studio. One was Hope Street and one was Grand Street, and both these names sounded a little too … yes, over deterministic. Did I want to walk there feeling grand, or did I want to walk there feeling hopeful? So I walked partly down Hope, and partly down Grand, making the crossing through a park, named The Grand Hope Park. The entrance looks like this:
Now if I had been in any kind of a fiction, I would surely have been a character who had grand hopes, and for the sake of the plot these the grand hopes would have to be dashed somewhere along the line. Then, depending on what kind of fiction I was in, these grand hopes would be reborn, or they’d be crushed utterly and forever.
Of course, in real life, I didn’t have any such narrative structure (which is why truth is so much less interesting than fiction). The interview went very well, “grand” would be an exaggeration, but it was at least as good as I’d hoped. Among other things we discussed Felix the Cat and Buster Keaton, and the similarity (or not) between their walking styles.
And then, walking away from the studio I took a slight different route back to the car, and came to a corner, and there staring down at me was a poster (a slap I believe is the technical term) of Felix the Cat by Shie47 – looking more dangerous than I remember, but hey Felix doesn't only keep on walking, he also moves with the times.