Seaham – just far enough outside Sunderland. Byron got married here then fled but has been memorialised with the Byron Place shopping mall being buffeted by the north sea.
Walking along Norlington Road I catch a snippet of conversation from the two boys walking in front. They’re aged about 12-14 years old, and the vibe I get is that one of the boys is new to the area, the other has an authoritative tone like he really knows what he’s talking about.
“If you go Hackney don’t tell them where you’re from. If they ask where you’re from say E5 or something.”
The one wearing glasses doesn’t seem to take this in, so the other one has to spell it out for him.
“If you go Hackney right, and they ask you ‘what end you from?’, and you say Leyton, they’ll stab you.”
He delivered this chilling bit of local info as casually as telling him which bus to take to get to Mare Street.
It might be that he was putting the wind up a newly arrived country bumpkin in the way that Aussies used to scare me with tales of Brown snakes in the lavvie when I lived in Sydney. But then one day I did come across a Brown snake outside my front door.
It’s difficult to comprehend how merely giving the wrong postcode could get you killed and how it is an accepted part of the world that kids inhabit.
I was interested to see the Fix My Street site linked on the new Labour blog thing Labour List. Basically you just put your postcode in and report any problems you see in your area – marking them on an annotatable map e.g. street lights not working, remove graffiti please (nice that this is one cyber forum where manners are still the norm).
In 2004 I met the Urban Planning Department in Wycombe to discuss the derives we were doing in the area – particularly the algorithmic derives that led people into areas where they wouldn’t normally wander. We pitched it as a way of fostering a renewed engagement with the local environment, of increasing civic pride. The planners and environment department read this as an excellent way of getting people to photograph and report fly-tipping and graffiti rather than the mass exercise in psychogeography that I had envisioned.
Fix My Street therefore has me caught in two minds between being beguiled by the poetry of low-level community concerns and the fact that the site seems well used and disappointed that the entries aren’t more guided by ambiences and that there aren’t posts along the lines of ‘strong resonances of the 16th plague pit in Lever Street’
This article came in on the National Psychogeographic newsfeed – looks at a new development in Spa Fields Islington and how the structure relates to the psychogepgraphy of London. Spa Fields is somewhere I keep being drawn back to – the collision of radical history, mythology connected to springs and wells, pleasure gardens and transgression and how this seems indellably imprinted on the landscape.
Studio Idealyc’s pyramid scheme – Building Design