Sunday, 30 January 2011

A field student of E17 never walks alone











29th January 2011

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Previously on ‘Lost and found in E17’ I referred to Lewis Caroll’s, Alice in Wonderland, his and her pool of tears, to allude to my lachrymose mirth at the thought of council officials relevantly dating blank maps of the public rights of way in Waltham Forest. I am trying to find out what relevantly dating a blank map entails and what benefits are to be derived. Caroll’s ‘Wonderland’ may be a clichéd and prosaic resort for a witless pedestrian dullard of a commentator. Yes, disingenuous I am to indulge in defence against criticism I have not actually received. Of course I am trying to be found via these dispatches from my wilderness of sorts.
Alice, having downed a bottle of something which tasted of all her favourite flavours (including, roast turkey), accompanied by a currant inscribed ‘EAT ME’ cake, experiences a discombobulating sense of scale. She contemplates an action which I think would serve as a ‘core action’ for the London Borough of Waltham Forest, Rights of Way Improvement Plan. Along with John Tenniel’s beautiful illustrations we witness Alice,

‘... planning to herself how she would manage it. ‘They must go by the carrier’ she thought; and how funny it’ll seem, sending presents to ones’ own feet! And how odd the directions will look!
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Alices’ Right Foot, Esq,
Hearthrug,
Near the Fender,
(with Alices’ love)
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Oh dear, what nonsense I’m talking!’
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Don’t be so hard on yourself Alice, the wisdom of children is often dismissed as nonsense, and after all we are late for a very relevant date, or two. Where is that rabbit?
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While out walking last night I entertained the thought the little white man of public footpath signposts here and there could be replaced by a white rabbit. All right, I know this would be an appalling waste of public funds. Anyway, welcome to Walthamstow’s warren of ways. Follow me to a particularly dark section of this fantasy, the entrances to which are signposted by our walking man in white. I was excited at the sight of one of the signs, hoping it marked the beginning of a meandering corridor or mysterious tunnel in the inbetweens of Walthamstow’s suburban terrain. There I was, a middle aged man clinging on to an adolescent nee childish fantasy of an (urban) explorer. Check out, ‘Found Objects’ for tales of more derring-dos. In these post colonial and politically correct times it could be a struggle to conjure a heroic and exotic explorer to model oneself upon. Yes, delusion is a significant part of my recreation, however I wonder if psycho-geography is an attempt to re-establish the unknown; a process of unmapping and untracing? Could we decry the definitive map and statement for it will always be ‘bullshit’?
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I lost my nerve a little, as a field student of Shangri La, standing at the threshold of one of the empyrean paths. I had some doubts about this path meeting the criteria for inclusion in the empyrean public realm. Four (or more) wheeled beasts of noxious internal combustion are not permitted in this Utopian vision, yet there appeared to have been a vehicular violation of the sacred path.
Damn and blast! Those renegade iconoclastic Situationist spooks have been at it again. The artfully artless dodgers have carved up a path of plodding pedestrianism. Their criminal erosion of rights compised a muddy terrain of deeply furrowed tyre tracks and expansive murky puddles. I proceeded with two strictly left footed cha cha manoeuvres to navigate a dance of a passage through this, a ‘Nova Totias Terrarum Orbis Juxta Neolericorum Traditiones’. I was immersed in the mapped intelligence and imagination of Abraham Ortelius, hailing from way back in 1564.
Ortelius’ projection is not unlike Morag Maguire’s heart shaped design for the E17 Art Trail 20... , With love, from Walthamstow. The latter did not project the monstrous soup of mythical beasties Ortelius’ map does. So what was I - prey or predator? What sort of common ground was this? In the midst of a Carollian confusion of scales I negotiated the puddles with a childish horror of the underneath - the lurky realm of the Snark and Jabberwocky. What’s that?
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Close to the playground, in view of the children,
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‘..of the pure unclouded brow
And dreaming eyes of wonder’
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there lay a fly tipped and ridden pile of.... steaming jabberwocky entrails.
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Ok it wasn’t steaming. I made that bit up, allowing my imagination to get the better of me. This must have been a site of a mythic battle, a no man’s land of red crossed, crossed red, apocryphal St Georges warriors, infantry (sic, sic, sic) in combat, wrestling with a beast of a giant white neon bright bunny. What remained abandoned of this carnal orgy were the viscera of suburbia - offal for the diamond dogs and rats the size of cats. Beware the savage raw!
Is this way neglected and abandoned and so a candidate for the borough’s orphanage of (out of the way) sites? I really must go home, touch base with reality, and get on with that evidence form for ‘Chief Engineer’.

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