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

    Tuesday, December 30, 2008
    Celebrating the undignified spectacle
     
    "This is moon musick
    In the light of the moon"
    It seemed so right, in this chilling drift between years, to spend a day with Coil's Musick to Play in the Dark in my ears and my mind's eye delighting in Iain Sinclair's fourth M25 excursion (south-easterly counter-clockwise out of Staines) in which he and his co-walkers trace the pattern in the landscape of The Kingston Zodiac (a terrestrial coordinate system revealed by a Mary Caine: they walk a configuration which she names The Dog, whose head aligns with the Holloway Asylum, Egham).

    When, in a Staines breakfast cafe, three local loafers overhear Sinclair and his companions discussing Caine's constellations and their significance for their journey, the walkers are judged to be 'tramps', 'drug addicts'. Sinclair welcomes these judgements - and the subsequent conversation - as 'nitty-gritty', a complement to Caine's 'spirit', and all of this sets them up well for a day which will embrace, among other places, St George's Hill, site of the revolutionary experiments of Gerrard Winstanley and the Diggers in 1649, and now home to Cliff Richard.

    It was also a joy to read a parallel account of this journey by one of Sinclair's companions that day, Kevin Jackson, a freelance writer who came ill-equipped for the journey and whose blisters had developed blisters five hours into the walk, when he bailed out and took a train home in full knowledge of the consequences.
    I am painfully aware of the risk that Sinclair may well end up incorporating this undignified spectacle in some book or exhibition, alongside selections of my more ill-considered utterances, but console myself with the thought that there are worse fates than a walk-on, or hobble-on, part in the continuing Sinclair oeuvre. 'You'll have learnt to do this sort of thing by telephone next time,' Sinclair says, as we head down into Chertsey...
    Jackson, though, emerged with other ideas. Though he was right about the treatment he'd get - in London Orbital Sinclair describes Jackson's feet as looking like 'deformities of war', his socks (cut away from the flesh in a Chertsey pub garden), 'a pulp of sweat and blood, would fit over a baby's head' - Jackson's Independent article concludes, 'give me a good pair of socks and boots and I'm up for it again. I've no objection at all to re-branding myself as a pedestrian writer.'

    That's the psychogeographic spirit. It's what following the A-Z zodiac, engaging in all-day-breakfast banter, listening for the moon musick, does for you.

    Lyrics from Coil, Are You Shivering.
    Sample: [mp3]