I’ve been reading Jonathan Meades’s Pedro and Ricky Come Again, Selected Writing 1988-
2000. I think it’s great.
Admittedly it’s rather light on references to walking though there is this, ‘Our cities are full of people hurrying, their narrow pavements are not made for promenades at snail's pace; they are for getting from A to B rather than civic recreation. Walking for its own sake may be further discouraged by the climate and, equally, by the work 'ethic'. This week I put in several hours' sterling loitering interspersed with energy-saving bouts of farniente supinity. Observant sloth is its own reward. Just hanging around and seeing what happens …’ Fair enough.
And there’s a piece, not in the book, from the Quietus by John Doran, which describes Meades as ‘the slowest strolling human being I've ever met, even manages to be a flâneur at 380 feet above Tottenham Court Road, pointing out buildings and an amazing sunset to me as we head at snail's pace from our table towards the lifts.’
And perhaps I’m getting a little obsessed with the man, because since I was walking across my local supermarket carpark yesterday and there walking alongside me was a guy who looked very much indeed like Jonathan Meades. He did look a bit whiskery (he wasn't wearing a mask) but it seemed perfectly possible that Meades might let his beard grow between public appearances.
This is a picture of the car park (for obvious reasons I didn’t photograph the man):
Now, it was obviously surprising that Jonathan Meades would be heading into my local supermarket, since we know he lives in Marseille in Le Corbusier’sCité Radieuse – that’s the picture at the top. On the other hand he has written and made films about Essex, so his presence wasn’t completely inconceivable, especially in these confused, socially disrupted times. Here’s a still from The Joy of Essex (yes, you can see the joy in his face):
I still couldn’t quite believe it was him but I looked again and the fellow looked SO much like Mr. Meades that I found myself saying, ‘Excuse me, do I know you? Is your name Jonathan?’
He seemed surprised by this though not offended and he said with a smile, ‘Oh, I’m Robert’s father,’ as though that solved everything, which it did not.
Once we’d made eye contact, he looked considerably less like Mr. Meades, but you will note that he didn’t say his name WASN’T Jonathan.