Past

Synchronised Global Walking May 12th 2018

It was May the 12th, 2018,

Synchronised walking was happening all over the globe

Via a shared urban score:

‘Cities tend to start in the middle and spread outwards, thinning as they go…

a familiar phenomenology … in the middle of things.

But where is that exactly, and how can we be sure?

…you are unlikely to encounter a sign telling you that you have arrived.

This is, of course, one of the surest indications …

that you are back in the middle of things:

the signs pointing the way will have dried up.’

But we were in the country,

Far away from the City of London;

How could we see, hear, touch, taste and smell

The space-time of a city, out here in the shires,

Far away from Jeremy Corbyn and the TUC Rally,

Far away from William Blake and London:

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Fractal Light Show at St. Laurence’s

They met by a sacred oak tree:
The Celtic-British church delegates,
And Laurence and Augustine from Rome;

A sacred oak near to a great river near here:
At Cricklade on the River Thames perhaps,
Or Arlingham on the River Severn;

The wind soughed through the branches
Silver light stippled the water,
A coracle cast its steady shadow,
In the year of our Lord,
603.

A millennium and more later,
A scintillant refulgence,
A dazzle of artful light;

There, in Saint Laurence’s in Stroud,
Fractals of illumination,
Stained glass manuscripts;

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Terminalia Festival February 23rd 2018

Well that was a walk, that was,
For we explored boundaries,
Spatial, temporal, linguistic, social, spiritual, rational,
By exploring Jon Seagrave’s Stroud map of the subjective,
Of the emotional and the affective,
Rather than the conventional topography:
The boundary between landscape and experience;

We explored the archaeology of industry:
Rusting capstans and a forgotten railway turntable,
John Seagrave was talking of how the turntable
Could accommodate one wagon at a time only,
For the winch down to the gasworks,
And, oddly, in true time-shift fashion,
I noticed a notelet recently dropped
On the ground nearby:
‘DO NOT DOUBLE STACK’;

Pleased by this coincidence of time and space,
This damp leaf typescript revenant,
Our quickening pace took us back
To 1920s guides to London walking,
Gordon Maxwell and HV Morton;
We planned a Captain Swing memorial walk,
Along the old Tetbury branch line,
To the Trouble House Inn;
We talked of walking the 1839 Newport Rising.

We dropped down Time’s wormholes n so many ways
At the Roman villa at Woodchester,
Where Robin Treefellow transported us
With his fictive account of a servant’s life there,
Druid mistletoe shrouding the lime trees;

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North and South

There, on the one hand, St. Pancras and Paris;
And there, on the other, Kings Cross:
Gateway to the LNER,
And night mails crossing the border,

And gateway to a world we have lost:
Pit heads and winding gear, tram-roads and collieries,
And curling smoke chimney stacks:
The world of the North,

The canvas telling the truth,
Up there in the Mining Art Gallery,
At Bishop Auckland:

A terrible beauty down there in the dark depths,
And a beautiful harmony up there in the streets
And homes and chapels and clubs and pubs:
The stippled mist-light of the pit village,
The twisted sinews in the eighteen inch seam,
Ears keening with the creak of each pit prop,
The mind tracking the echo of dripping water,
And the whisper of each rock –

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Bristol: Clichéd Football; Radical History

Temple Meads via Swindon, 14 quid?
Temple Meads via Gloucester, only 7?
Well, that meant a ride through the warehouse edgelands,
And the buddleia rusting railway lines to Gloucester
(‘YES MATE’, as it said under the bridge),
But there was time enough for a trip down football’s memory lane
With a Swindon fan at Stroud:
‘No football at Ebley, now, look.
Nothin’.
Nothin’ at Ebley anymore’
I said I was off to watch Derby at Bristol City,
And he recalled
Swindon beating Derby one nil,
November 5th 1968:
‘Best Bonfire Night I ever had.’
We talked of FGR:
‘You be careful at Forest Green on Friday.
I know about 200 Swindon fans will be at the FGR end.’
‘I know mate. I’ll be one of them. With my red and white scarf.’
He looked at me with new and slightly befuddled admiration.
He slapped me on the back:
‘Fair play on ya, mate. Fair play.’

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Stroud Fringe Walk: Place, Space and Time

Beneath the pavement, the beach! For here we have a line of houses called Streamside, And up there, beyond the Fountain pub, Lies Springfield Road and a plethora Of constant, subterranean springs, Springs! The genius loci of Stroud …

We walked down Lansdowne, To cross the Slad Brook, at Mill House, In search of the edgelands, Puddles, brooks and panel beaters, Car dealers, buddleia, car parks and cinemas, Past the Dickensian Omar L. Cottle, Monumental mason, The nominative determinism of a park, Named after a Park, Past strange continuities in the street: The chemist’s on the corner, Where in 1872, A chemist by the name of Joseph Banks Campaigned for a farm workers’ trade union, And no more payment in truck: ‘In sterling money, not fat bacon …or a couple of swedes’,

Then to Badbrook and weavers’ riots, ‘We had been working ever longer time for ever cankered pennies all the year. Something needed doing. So we laid our shuttles and looms to rest and joined the Stroud Valleys Weavers Union. This is my true and faithful account. I cannot dissemble. The Good Book tells us that we should get our bread by the sweat of our brow. We had the sweat but no bread. What could we do?’

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Radical Pub Crawl: Loomsday

A pub-crawl is something I associate
With my youth – indeed, I have never ever
Typed ‘pub crawl’, before, but I am surprised
To find a green line advising me to
Hyphenate and create a compound noun.

The word was never hyphenated
When I used to go on a pub crawl:
There was a noun and there was a verb,
The noun was a sort of synecdoche,
Whilst the verb ‘crawl’ said it all:
The evening started vertical
And ended with a slow, meandering
Horizontal, hands and feet slowly,
Gradually, inching along pavement.

And that was a pub crawl, sampling lots of
Different pints, and different pubs,
Different prices, and atmospheres,
Collecting and clocking the pub names,
The different tastes, strengths and breweries,
In a sort of localised and active
Sociological nuanced survey:
It made you observant through the smoke.

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