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notes from a small vicar
from a parish
in Liverpool, UK
Tuesday, December 17, 2002Pedestrian Culture
I'm not as much of a walker as 'Captain' Robert Barclay Allardic who in 1806 successfully betted that he could walk one mile in each of 1000 successive hours. The London public rewarded him with 16,000 guineas, 320 times the average annual wage (read about him here).
I'm not as deliberate a walker as Iain Sinclair (read about him here), who specialises in what Wilfried Hou Je Bek calls 'constrained walking'. I love the way he describes Sinclair's methods:
However, there is a tradition of radical walking which Benjamin and others like to affirm. And I do like to think that sometimes I'm a radical walker, akin to those described by Donna Landry in her interesting essay, erm, Radical Walking, those who over the years have trampled Britain's byways and highways on protest marches, or in search of poetic inspiration, risking association with vagrants and poachers - those who "together constitute a society based on the twin principles of freedom of movement and freedom of speech." She suggests, for example, that "Iain SinclairÕs walk round the M25 signifies, among other things, a radical pedestrianising of territory otherwise abandoned to motorised aggro."
Today, walking round the parish on a route which, plotted later on the map, is vaguely heart-shaped, these things happened to me:
I noted that the charity shop was holding a one-day-only half price clothes sale but declined to go in;
I relished the painful freedom in realising, passing outside Woolworths looking in at the tempting shelf of new cds, that I'd left my money at home.
I discovered that the parishioners I visited have painted their house in the deepest, bloodiest red imaginable. But failed to discover why;
I thought of various people who would otherwise not have been in mind, simply by passing by their streets;
I got invited into a party at the Blind Club and emerged with pockets full of tangerines.