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.
Showing posts with label TS Eliot. Show all posts
Showing posts with label TS Eliot. Show all posts

Wednesday, September 7, 2016


First: John Hayward (who was wheelchair-bound because of muscular dystrophy, and who was known, not always affectionately, as Tarantula) talking about TS Eliot, quoted by John Malcolm Brennan:
“On the day Time magazine came out with his face on the cover he walked for hours looking for wherever he might find it, shamelessly taking peeks at himself.”
       This is the Time cover, with portrait by Boris Michael Artzybasheff, and yes, that is a martini rising behind Eliot's right ear:

It’s remarkably hard to find a picture of T.S. Eliot walking, but there’s this one from the University of St Andrews, captioned “T. S. Eliot and others in North Street, St Andrews, 1953; photograph by George Cowie.”

Secondly: here’s Mark E Smith writing (or being ghostwritten) in Renegade his amazingly (and perhaps unexpectedly) good, not-quite memoir. It seems he was a walker of the suburbs at the time of making the album Perverted by Language.

“Walking the same places, skint, you see a lot of hidden sores when you’re having an off day.  Your eyes have changed and the simple actions of other people take on a significance that may not be truly there.  These are extreme moments …
“I’d be walking around wondering how I could finance everything and there’s be a fellow in an ill-fitting pair of slacks adding dabs of white paint to the white paint that was already there.”
It’s not too hard to find a picture of Mark E. Smith walking, this one’s by Natasha Bright:

It’s not even hard to find one of him in a wheelchair either:

Much harder to find one of John Hayward, but here is with Rose Macaulay and others.

Sunday, August 10, 2014


I just read Claire Messud’s The Woman Upstairs.  My agent recommended it to me.  She said it just kind of drifts along for 250 pages and then it kicks you in teeth in the last chapter.  (She may not have used exactly those words).  Well, my agent is right, although of course if somebody’s told you that you’re going get kicked in the teeth, it’s not quite the surprise it would be otherwise.

The book isn’t specifically about walking, but the all-American heroine and narrator Nora embarks on a long flirtation with a brooding Lebanese professor named Skandar, and walking together figures largely in the seduction process.  (Nora also has a passion for Skandar's wife, though they don't actually get it together physically). Nora and Skandar walk and talk. Skandar says,

“… In our lives, we span many worlds and many centuries, sometimes without taking a step.”
He said this while we were walking, and I laughed and gestured at the Cambridge streets around us and replied, “And sometimes you take many steps and stay in just one world.”

It’s the kind of book in which people say things like that.  However, when things go pear-shaped in the relationship, as we knew they would, she eventually goes alone on a tour of Europe, and in Naples, as she experiences a sudden burst of feeling she says to herself, “Who is he who walks always beside you?  No-fucking body thank you very much.  I walk alone,”  thereby invoking, and subverting, and very possibly insulting, TS Eliot, Ernest Shackleton, William Burroughs, and of course the Bible.  Quite an achievement.

I haven’t been able to find a picture of Claire Messud walking (neither alone nor with others) but here she is standing in her house with some books. We know she has many more elsewhere.