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

    Wednesday, March 04, 2009
    What is it about walking home?
     
    Good to meet Simon here today, and over a pub lunch to explore our common ground: two vicars whose idea of a good sabbatical is taking a long-distance hike from somewhere else, back home. Simon's making what he calls a 'pilgrimage from Paris to Oadby, in a roundabout way'. Paris: where he honeymooned many years ago, Oadby: where he now lives. And the roundabout route taking in visits to friends unseen for many years. Sounds good to me.

    We pondered the significance of the direction of our routes. The fact that we only needed a moments thought - if that, it was instinctive - to decide that the journey must end at home. Pilgrimages usually end in so-called holy places. Do we walk in expectation that the journey there will somehow help redeem the everyday environment we're returning to?

    Iain Sinclair, standing on Crosby beach with Chris Petit at the beginning of a promo film for Audi, remarks (mischievously, I reckon), that 'Road journeys, describing England through journey, always conclude with an Antony Gormley. What's interesting is that we're using them as a starting point rather than a conclusion.' Is he getting at me? I've no idea. Whatever, it wasn't so much the Gormleys that drew me to conclude my walk on those sands. It was the memory of playing there as a child, the familiarity of the landscape, the mental power in that arena which had hosted all sorts of life events for me. To me the Gormleys are silent witnesses, kindred spirits, newcomers gradually soaking in something more substantial which exists there. The indefinable, the elusive: sense of home.

    Screenshot from the Audi Channel film Iain Sinclair: My Journey