Drifting and striding, in Hollywood and elsewhere, with Geoff Nicholson - author of The Lost Art of Walking, and Walking in Ruins withcholson, author of Toff Nidrifting and stomping withcholson, author of The Lost Art of Walking, considers the narrower and wider shores of obsessive pedestrianism.
Showing posts with label LONODN REVEW OF BOOKS. Show all posts
Showing posts with label LONODN REVEW OF BOOKS. Show all posts

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

THE CANAL AND THE CARNAL

The issue before last of the London Review of Books contained a piece by Iain Sinclair, titled “The Last London.”


Iain isn’t happy about the current state of London, which comes as no great surprise: is anybody?  However, even walking alongs the canals of East London can be a source of distress.  He writes,  
        “Between Victoria Park, the first of the parks opened for the people, and Broadway Market, worlds collide. Two young mothers were texting and being yapped at by older kids, while the youngest child circled on her scooter. There’s a gentle slope down to the canal and the scooter picked up momentum, until the child disappeared over the edge, between two narrowboats, straight into the water. Fortunately, a morning cyclist was stepping ashore. He grabbed the child by the hair. All was well. A little further down the canal, where the path goes under a railway bridge, the mad pumping rush of the peloton swooped through – and a guy on one of those very thin-wheeled bikes was nudged into the soup. Right under, gasping and choking, still in the saddle. I helped to pull him out.”


This did sound a bit action-packed for a Sinclair drift, but I didn’t hold Sinclair personally responsible.   However, at least one reader sort of did.  A letter duly appeared in the subsequent issue of the LRB, from Giacinto Palmieri, London E2, who writes:
“Like Iain Sinclair, I too walk on the canal path between Victoria Park and Broadway Market, but in many years of doing so I’ve never seen anybody fall into the canal. Sinclair, on the other hand, reports witnessing two such episodes, apparently within a short interval of time. Correlation doesn’t entail causation, but I can’t help asking whether these incidents might be correlated with the presence of a psychogeographer wandering dreamily in search of evocative connections in the middle of the path.”
Psychogeography, it's always trouble.


      It’s hard to think of canals and east London without also thinking about Lee Rourke’s novel The Canal.  Walking seems to be start of all the troubles in that book. 
I simply awoke one morning and decided, rather than walk to work as normal I’d walk to the canal instead.”
The hero sees and experiences all sorts or horrible things canalside, although admittedly the worst of them happen when he stops walking and sits on a bench where he’s menaced by The Pack Crew, a very bad lot.  They throw somebody’s motor scooter into the water, assault his girlfriend, and also try to kill swans with a bow and arrow.  Yep, canals can be mythical places.



Here in Los Angeles I’m not sure we even have "real" canals.  They exist in Venice, but Venice isn’t really Los Angeles, and the canals aren't really canals.  Here’s something – definitely not a canal, could be an aqueduct, could be a concrete creek – in Culver City, which I thought was worth a picture: