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john davies
notes from a small vicar
from a parish
in Liverpool, UK

    Monday, August 04, 2003
    A6 Greenbelt memories
     
      Oh Stockport Road
      you got six shades of God
      but the only redemption we can get
      is a late night kebab.
      [Cathy Bolton]
    On today's Greenbelt blog Liz linked to the website of the A6 Poets, "A poetry project celebrating life along the A6 corridor in Manchester". And that got me going because, well, if you're a regular reader you'll know my interest in urban arts / the poetry of pilgrimage etc etc... so I reproduce here what I commented on the GB site....
      Thanks, Liz, for an inspired share here; I love the idea of the A6 Poets. And I like what I read of their work; indeed I like any poets inspired by a sense of place and/or pilgrimage. Especially when those places are edgy, usually off-limits. Ref Iain Sinclair / Bill Drummond for more such stuff.

      The A6, of course, ain't just in Stockport - it journeys 250 miles from Carlisle down to Luton where it is sucked into the M1 channel into north London. En route it passes through Buxton, Derby, Leicester, and Bedford, and that's the exact route I took to my first-ever Greenbelt in 1979 (picking it up via a climb up the infamous Cat and Fiddle).

      As a learner biker then, on a Honda CB200, I had to keep off motorways. As a rookie traveller I remember this as an epic journey through the heart of England. So traumatised was I by being trapped in the loops of Leicester's one-way system that I've never been back there since.

      So full of a sense of achievement was I on arrival at Odell that Greenbelt couldn't fail to imprint itself on my heart as a place of history. Such was that A6 pilgrimage (though I'd never even heard that word at that time) that that weekend couldn't fail to become an abiding memory. It would have, even if I'd hated the festival.

      As it turned out, I loved it and have journeyed to it by bike, bus, car, most every year since. All this makes me think that journey is a key part of the GB experience.

      I wonder how differently I'd have felt about GB79 if I'd bussed there, or hitched. Or if it'd rained on me and my little old bike rather than shining wonderfully all that way there and all the way back on that red A-route to the north.