London Perambulator Q&A at Housmans

Short clip from the Q&A that I did with Nick Papadimitriou, subject of the documentary – recorded at Housmans Bookshop, Kings Cross, London following a screening of the film.

The London Perambulator looks at the city we deny and the future city that awaits us. Leading London writers and cultural commentators Will Self, Iain Sinclair and Russell Brand explore the importance of the liminal spaces at the city’s fringe, it’s Edgelands, through the work of enigmatic and downright eccentric writer and researcher Nick Papadimitriou – a man whose life is dedicated to exploring and archiving areas beyond the permitted territories of the high street, the retail park, the suburban walkways.

For more information go to http://londonperambulator.wordpress.com

I haven’t posted for a couple of weeks due to a week spent in Italy, out of the range of internet. I also found myself linguistically intimidated by the landscape such was it’s beauty – not just in the standardised bucolic sense but in the passifying effect on the soul. The same thing happened when I rounded off a 7 month stint in the flat industrial plain of Emilia Romangna with two weeks in Tuscany. Over the preceding months I’d spewed out splenetic prose nightly – to the extent that I had the first draft of a book (that I plan to publish shortly on Lulu). Once in Tuscany the words dried up – it was all swooning olive groves and rhapsodic lunches.

I’ve also been pre-occupied with tomorrow night’s screening of the Nick Papadimitriou film at the Whitechapel Gallery in the East End Film Festival. There will also be an ‘Edgelands’ panel afterwards with Will Self, Iain Sinclair, Andrea Philips and me. What amazing company to find oneself in on a stage in the newly reburbed Gallery.
Aldgate East is one of the parts of London pregnant with memory for me. The distinctive smell of the tube platform hurtles me back to 89-92, City Poly, in various states of inebriation. I never once ventured inside the Whitechapel in those years. And now The London Perambulator makes its world premiere there.

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Foul Deeds and Deep Topography


The other evening I went to meet Nick Papadimitriou for coffee in Hampstead – at our regular rendezvous – The Coffee Cup. He slides a hot-off-the-press copy of his book ‘Foul Deeds and Suspicious Deaths in Barnet, Finchley and Hendon’ across the table to me. I ask him to sign it. “Bollocks to Psychogeography”, he writes.
Any thoughts that this is a standard local history text are quickly banished on page 1. “In order to ‘frame’ the zone within which the murders described in this book occurred I undertook a series of long walks crossing the borough in order to examine the site of each killing”. At the risk of deeply offending the original Deep Topographer, this fits many people’s definition of psychogeography.
“…. a quiet yet brooding power lurks in our hilly region of serried rooftops and arterial roads. A walk down the Hendon Way from my home in Child’s Hill, in April 2007, revealed traces of the old Hendon Urban District Council sewage farm still visible in concrete culverts and the raised lines of a buried aqueduct at Brent Cross.” Pure Deep Topography.
Nick takes what could have just been the lurid recounting of some murders culled from the local archives and produces a detailed study of the topography, psyche, neurosis, and mythology of the region of his birth. It has all the qualities of the books that both he and I love, the commissioned walking guides to the fringelands of London that went far beyond the brief of describing the locations of footpaths and towpaths to put forward a heightened sensibility, a new way of connecting with the suburban landscape.

My film about Nick is finally taking shape. I did another cut on Thursday where a sequence from our walk from Finchley to Arnos Grove shot last February was added, “suburbs are just the dream of a mushroom god”, Nick lays forth whilst looking at a neat row of Edwardian villas. The challenge still is to feel that Nick’s world is done justice, that the film takes us some way to seeing what he sees and experiences. I’ve spent this evening spooling through a couple of hours of archive footage to pull out about 90 seconds of choice cuts. The contributions from Will Self, Iain Sinclair and Russell Brand seem more priceless with each viewing. The experience feels as epic as our longest walks together.
Once this is done I look forward to going back out walking with Nick – without a camera.

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Beyond Stonebridge Park pts. 2 & 3

The final two installments of ‘Beyond Stonebridge Park’ have been uploaded to Google Video and YouTube

This is the film that Iain Sinclair described as “grunge Keiller” and has been screened here and there apparently. Catch Deep Topographer extraordinaire Nick Papadimitriou riifing brilliantly on the Phenomenology of the Stockbroker Belt, the pig-iron universe of WWI, the progression from Dan Dare to Pornography via a skip in Cricklewood Lane and loads more.

‘Journeys Beyond the Western Sector’ is now available from Crockatt & Powell’s Booksellers on Lower Marsh SE1, behind Waterloo Station. They have an interest in matters psychogeographical and sell an array of books and pamphlets such as the intriguing ‘One Eye Grey’. Nice fellas too. My old mate Ivor Dembina even did a stand-up set there the other night (Ivor was the saint who made sure that my first ever stand-up comedy gig was Saturday night at The Hampstead Comedy Club on the same bill as Time Vine – it was downhill from there featuring painful stop-offs at places such as the Feral Comedy Night at the Bridge Hotel, Sydney).