Video from the Resonance Studio last year

In the Resonance fm studio - ventures & adventures in topography from fugueur on Vimeo.

As we prepare for a summer walking and recording the second series of Ventures and Adventures in Topography here’s a short video from the studio broadcast of he last episode of series one in December 2009. You can download the podcast of this episode here
Among the suggested topics for series 2 we’re planning one exploring Leytonstone and Wanstead probably following the course of the Filly Brook (or Fillebrook).

Walk to Stratford

Yesterday took a late afternoon wander down to Stratford under sludge grey skies


Turn off Cathall Road into Hollydown Way taking in the view across St. Patrick’s Cemetery towards the cranes of Stratford. Iain Sinclair made this journey in reverse in Lights Out For the Territory describing St. Pat’s as “that slumberland development with its forest of white statues”. The eastern gates are padlocked as they were when Sinclair passed by, so I continue.

The Olympic development looms large now from Draper’s Fields playing grounds, scene of midweek 5-a-side heroics

Wilson’s Bar hanging on for dear life – the antithesis of the supposed Olympic dream of the developers

I still can’t get my head around the idea that the Olympic Village is going to be down on Angel Lane Stratford. Will we find pole-vaulters popping over the road for a pint in the Railway Tavern.

Walking through Downtown Los Angeles

Downtown LA

“The ordinary practitioners of the city live ‘down below’, below the thresholds at which visibility begins. They walk — an elementary form of this experience of the city; they are walkers, Wandersmänner, whose bodies follow the thicks and thins of an urban ‘text’ they write without being able to read it.
The walker, through her/his everyday practices of life, resists the organizing power of both the gaze and the map. The city is produced every day, inscribed with her/his journeys, journeys that create the city but ‘elud[e] legibility’. “
Michel de Certeau, ‘The Practice of Everyday Life’ (1984)

I wonder what de Certeau would make of Los Angeles, a city (or federation of cities) where walking is considered aberrant behaviour. Can a city be produced by daily car non-journeys. The contrast when I went to Downtown the other day was palpable – the fact of poverty, of diversity in body size, of people conducting the usual transactions of city life – walking from place-to-place, the possibility of random encounters, the ability to narrate your own transit through the space. These are things absent from the rest of the city that I have seen.

Mythogeography


Recently stumbled upon this forthcoming publication by Phil Smith – Mythogeography.
Phil describes it thusly:
“The book takes the form of a documentary-fictional collection of the internal documents, diary fragments, letters, emails, narratives, notebooks and handbooks of a loose coalition of artists, performers, ‘alternative’ walkers and pedestrian geographers. All Illustrated in full colour by Tony Weaver, who designed the Wrights & Sites’ Mis-Guide books.

The fragmentary and slippery format recognises the disparate, loosely interwoven and rapidly evolving uses of walking today: as performance, as exploration, as urban resistance, as activism, as an ambulatory practice of geography, as meditation, as post-tourism, as dissident mapping, as subversion of and rejoicing in the everyday. ‘Mythogeography’ celebrates that interweaving, its contradictions and complementarities, and is an attempt at a handbook for those who want to be part of it.”

I first came across Phil’s work via Wrights & Sites he’s written some key work on the practice of walking. These two essays are particularly good
A Short History of the Future of Walking
Dread, Route and Time: An Autobiographical Walking of Everything Else

Mythogeography is available from Triarchy Press

london

Last in the series of Ventures and Adventures

Did the last walk and the last broadcast in the first series of Ventures and Adventures in Topography on Resonance 104.4fm – and thoroughly enjoyed it. The walks with Nick have been priceless, and for the two of us it has been the bringing together and public sharing of a long held passion for old topographical books.
The whole series is being repeated daily at 4.30pm on Resonance 104.4fm from today (you can also listen online at www.resonancefm.com/listen)
And now all the podcasts are available for download from our blog

Here’s a video I hastily shot and edited from that last walk, back to my home territory in the Chilterns with some audio excerpts from the radio show

It Isn’t Far From London from fugueur on Vimeo.

Footage from a walk from Slough to Beaconsfield using the 1931 walking guide It Isn’t Far From London by SPB Mais. Audio recordings from the radio show Ventures and Adventures in Topography on Resonance 104.4fm. The reading is by Heidi Lapaine with music from The Three Chronology. Other music is by Electric Monk.
http://venturesintopography.wordpress.com

First thing I’ve shot on my sanyo xacti cg10 – very much doing it on the hoof concentrating more on the sound for the radio show

london

The Northern Heights Necropolis


“Those who walk see most”

It was my co-host Nick Papadimitriou who introduced me to the expression ‘to do a Clunn’ in an email back in 2006. Nick did a no-show that night as I and three friends (including the redoubtable Peter Knapp) used Harol P. Clunn’s The Face of London (1932) to guide us from the Black Friar pub at one end of the bridge it lent its name to, along Queen Victoria Street finishing in the East End.

Clunn’s weighty tome is an exhaustive survey of London and its environs – probably the most comprehensive compendium of the city covered in this series exploring the world of early C20th topographical walking books. Clunn was a strident spokesman for the pedestrian – chronicling the gradual alienation of the walker from the streets to the designated walkways.

But unlike say SPB Mais or Gordon S Maxwell, Clunn is no poetic quasi-mystic, he is very much a scribe of the capital’s institutions and its worthies; as Nick observed looking down on the shimmering street-lit city, Clunn would have been the ideal guide for visiting dignitaries to London, proudly extolling the greatness of the colonial metropolis.

The walks in this book are epic – particularly for city perambulations which seem to peek at around six miles. Clunn’s measure more in the 10-15 bracket taking unlikely detours to extend what would be an otherwise moderate stroll. We baulked at this and decided to truncated his walk from City Road to Hampstead and back to St.Pancras to take in Highbury to Highgate – justifying it on the grounds that it had better rhythmic qualities for the radio.

I got lost in the graffiti of personal memory that decorates Highbury Fields and Barn for me. I lived here for a couple of years in the late 90’s in a tiny basement flat. Nick kindly indulged this and in return I offered up a few bits of local history that I’d gleaned from a pamphlet about the Highbury Barn pleasure gardens, which up till the mid-C19th had been a choice attraction for city day-trippers to sample operettas, eat cakes dipped in cream, custards, and syllabubs.

reading by Heidi Lapaine from The Northern Heights of London – Hampstead, Highgate, Muswell Hill, Hornsey and Islington by William Howitt, published in 1869

We pushed on and drunk in the view of the geological infrastructure of the northern heights laid bare as we stood on the corner of Aubert Park. For the first time I saw how Holloway sat deep in a river gully between what I think Nick would call the Hampstead masif and hills of Islington.

We achieved Stroud Green Road by dusk and supped tea in a cafe where Nick bemused a music teacher writing his journals with what must have seemed like an impossible knowledge of C20th English classical music. As we got sucked into the psychic vortex of Crouch End the powerful mythology of that place was debated. There are a perculiar amount of references to the undead round this nut-loaf of a separatist suburb – Will Self’s North London Book of the Dead has Crouch End as a place where you go to live after you die, Shaun of the Dead the great British zombie movie was filmed around here, Stephen King was inspired to write a short story called Crouch End after a walk along the old Northern Heights railway line, in the legend of the Highgate Vampire there is the fantastical story that the vampire moved out of Highgate Cemetery when it got too rowdy and shacked up in a large pile on the corner of Crescent and Avenue Roads, and in the real-world, serial killer Denis Nilsen committed some of his murders in a house on Cranley Gardens and allegedly kept the corpses for company.

 

field recording: Stroud Green Road

By the time we’d got bored mulling this over arguing about whether “murder and the occult was a short-cut to psychogeography”, we had ascended Shepherd’s Hill and were in Highgate. It was deep dark night and cold as a vampire’s kiss so we repaired to the Ye Olde Gatehouse pub, a place that legendary local author David Farrant claims is haunted. Sadly looks as if all the ghosts have re-located to Crouch End.

Download the podcast of this episode here

london