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

    Tuesday, June 23, 2009
    An act of transference by St John the Baptist
    Iain Sinclair in very good form in the current LRB, reviewing Thames: Sacred River by Peter Ackroyd. Always fascinating, the interaction between these two very different psychogeographers of London - Sinclair, banned fom council venues and the victim of lawsuits for criticising the plans for the London Olympics in his recent Hackney book, writing, 'It is inevitable that Ackroyd, with his belief in eternal recurrence, in London as an organic entity forever renewing itself from the darkest sources, looks kindly on the official script for the 2012 Olympics. Myths and symbols – torch-bearing processions, naked gladiators, flatpack stadia echoing Roman amphitheatres – are back in vogue. The aim is to avoid niggling local difficulties, the specifics of place, in order to forge a computer-generated fiction of national revival (by way of supersize shopping malls, media centres, committee-designed public parks in place of scabby edgeland wilderness)'

    I haven't worked any of this into my 400-word piece on psychogeography for the Greenbelt Festival programme, but I will definitely be digging for more of the same when interviewing him there, August Bank Holiday weekend.
    A strange and rather Ackroydian incident occurred as I walked past the railings of St John the Baptist Catholic church. I began to imagine that the young woman in the expensive leather jacket, just ahead of me, was limping slightly, favouring her right leg; a manicured hand brushing against the spot on the upper thigh where my nagging pain was located. As I gained on her, the limp became more pronounced and at the same time my own discomfort eased. By the time I crossed into Templecombe Road, she was hobbled, resting at the curb, while I skipped like a lamb. An act of transference that left me obscurely guilty. And which seemed to conjure, as a direct consequence, a cat’s cradle of blue and white incident tape. There is an agreement in Hackney: the police come out early, mobhanded, squad cars, vans, a works’ outing, and the postcode gangs (or negative youth affiliations) wait for twilight, a treaty arranged to avoid unnecessary aggravation. Those screaming sirens act as courtesy calls, giving dealers plenty of warning to remove themselves before they become tedious paperwork. Much policework these days is training in guerrilla documentation, an alternative film school. When the rumpus is over, it’s a war of competitive imagery: digital logging by the men in the flak jackets and soft-edged mobile-phone sweeps by climate camp protesters.
    Thanks Christine for the link