Sunday, 27 February 2011

a field student recognizes the folly of his ways

Folly Lane 27/02/11.

"What you doing you f****** p****? (?!) Don't walk in front of me, you f****** c***"


(was it a question?)

I'm unsure what I found more offensive; what the van driver said or the singular lack of imagination in the (attempts at) insults he bellowed at me. I think I deserved better insults than that. Come on man, you can do better than that. What had I done to warrant this tirade from the driver on Hall Lane close to where it joins the A406?

I had stepped onto and begun a walk across a zebra crossing in broad daylight. The driver had taken umbridge at having to stop - stopping with his front wheels well onto the markings while I was half way across. I had all ready allowed one car to pass while standing at the kerbside, so as I understand the highway code, I had right of way and the van driver, who had started to accelerate towards the crossing, was contravening the highway code. I was wearing a high visibility top and walking (with) my bicycle across the crossing.


This typically contradictory advice comes from Devon County Council:

ZEBRA crossings are marked by black and white painted strips across the road and flashing amber beacons. The Highway Code says that motorists 'MUST give way when someone has moved onto a crossing'. However, pedestrians should remain on the kerbside for safety's sake until approaching vehicles have stopped. Zebra crossings are cheaper to build than traffic signal crossings although their use on roads where traffic speeds are higher than 35mph is not recommended.

Rule 19 for pedestrians, in The Highway Code:

Zebra crossings. Give traffic plenty of time to see you and to stop before you start to cross. Vehicles will need more time when the road is slippery. Wait until traffic has stopped from both directions or the road is clear before crossing. Remember that traffic does not have to stop until someone has moved onto the crossing. Keep looking both ways, and listening, in case a driver or rider has not seen you and attempts to overtake a vehicle that has stopped.

Rule 195 for motorists, in The Highway Code

Zebra crossings. As you approach a zebra crossing

•look out for pedestrians waiting to cross and be ready to slow down or stop to let them cross
•you MUST give way when a pedestrian has moved onto a crossing
•allow more time for stopping on wet or icy roads
•do not wave or use your horn to invite pedestrians across; this could be dangerous if another vehicle is approaching
•be aware of pedestrians approaching from the side of the crossing

A zebra crossing with a central island is two separate crossings (see Rule 20).

[Law ZPPPCRGD reg 25]

Motorists are obliged to slow down when approaching pedestrian crossings, and more so if there are pedestrians in close proximity to the crossings. This is safe, lawful and considerate driving. Unfortunately it seems motorists are increasingly not respecting this pedestrian right of way. If it is so that a motorist can have right of way if he/she/it is able to cover the distance between their vehicle and the crossing while keeping within the speed limit - even if there is a waiting pedestrian or one making the first step across - why have zebra crossings at all? Do away with these death traps and create pedestrian no go zones. To know, as a pedestrian, you have a right of way across a busy road is reassuring and enabling if not empowering.

More and more, I have seen pedestrians thanking motorists for stopping at zebra crossings. For heaven's sake don't. To thank a driver for stopping only adds to the autocultural abuse of the pedestrian and is contributing to an unjust sense of entitlement on the part of the motorist.

Why has the London Borough of Waltham Forest put a zebra crossing so close to the junction of Hall Lane and the North Circular/A406 - a location where motoring is likely to be more belligerent? Would it not be better to have a Pelican or Toucan crossing here?

An answer to this question might come in the form of an image of the muddied pedestrian ways of the council when providing for those in the community who chose not to drive

I think it would be fair to say this path is excremental.

Over in Found Objects there is a hauntological blogger posting images of ghost signs - here is Lost and Found in E17's contribution to this ghostly and, in some places, ghastly dialectic.


What did I say, in reply to the van driver? "Get a move on you idiot, you're holding up the traffic."

I do have some sympathy for the brothers and sisters in the beleaguered offices of the LBWF. There are rumours circulating in the mind of this blogger that an extreme sect of auto eroticist van men ('hot' off the lanes of Southend Road) are mounting a campaign of insurgence aimed at vanquishing any respect whatsoever for the cyclist and pedestrian. In a sort of (J G) Ballardian inspired vision I shuddered at the thought of the 'relationship' between the driver and gear stick as he/she/it plunged into the council's defences.

a field student of free love and reproduction

Lost and Found in E17 has of late become a site of increasingly morbid musings while attempting to commune with the spirit(s) of erstwhile psychogeographers. Indeed, swine flu, cholera, bubonic plague have all featured prominently in this consumptive process and so, in the manner of Daniel Defoe’s fellow fear stricken denizens, I made for the hills this morning, to commune with nature and free myself of the vice and miasma of the Big Smoke. Not for me then, the likes of the littered streets of Soho or the Machiavellian hive of E17 et al. No, the northern fringes and allotments of E4 verging on Epping Forest were to be my temporary sanctuary today.

On a belly full of coffee, toast and honey I decided to retrace the gallops of Dick Turpin up into ‘the Chingfords’, mentally and physically pedalling this picaresque allusion along the way. Little hope then that I would actually free my mind of the mores of more inner London.

In the forest garden sanctum it was not long before the sexual proclivities of Mother Nature were all around me in startlingly vivid analogue. A particularly fine specimen of a corkscrew hazel (Corylus avellana, 'Contorta') displayed its sexual prowess with pendulous vegetable grace. In a moment of strange temporality I was immersed in the erotica of this field somewhere between this

and these



And now, nowhere near where I was, I will make excuses for my relapse by claiming this field student of E17 was earnestly studying the cycles of reproduction which provide Walthamstow and surrounds with ultra local ambrosial delights. Near to this site of free love, apian gatherings were in evidence.

Thursday, 24 February 2011

a field student pays homage

I went home that evening greatly oppressed in my mind, irresolute, and not knowing what to do. I had set the evening wholly apart to consider seriously about it, and was all alone; for already people had, as it were by a general consent, taken up the custom of not going out of doors after sunset; the reasons I shall have occasion to say more of by-and-by.
Daniel Defoe, A Visitation Of The Plague

Lost and Found poster, Soho, London. Feb' 2011 (photo: Julian Beere)

I have been trying to find the flyer, invite or advert’ David Dellafiora disseminated for ‘From Castaway to Plague Years - Mail Art Homage to the Life and Works of Daniel Defoe’. They or it would complement the following images/scans of the documentation I received having contributed to that show. Invitations or calls for submissions go some way towards explaining some of what a mail art show is, was and could be.

Exhibition Documentation - A6 stapled booklet, 20 pages, photocopies + photograph + rubber stamp prints + Daniel Defoe net note. Designed and produced by David Dellafiora. Reproduced by permission.

photo: David Dellafiora

Losing and Finding Memories

The interior of Lost and Found in E17 is a condensed and compressed terrain - a deep topography of modest furnishings, domestic accoutrements and personal affects packed in boxes within boxes stowed away in the nether and over reaches of what is the field student’s bedsitting room. Whereas the more accomplished of you might have separate rooms for the pursuit of your pleasures, this cloistered personage retreats to the confines of corners to indulge in his ‘pleasurely’ pursuits. To retrieve a memory such as a mail art exhibition flyer involves embarking on a perilous archival expedition. Avalanches from atop cupboards and cave-ins beneath beds have cramped the determination and enthusiasms of the field student as intrepid explorer on many an occasion. I must draw some maps of this room.

A field student seeks context and precedent

Less accomplished - a psycho persona manqué? No! The field student of E17 can qualify his status quo by resorting to the lives of others, identifying with such bedroom luminaries as Xavier de Maistre, brought to him by the erudition of Merlin Coverley’s, Psychogeography. Lost and Found in E17 (Me, Myself and I) can stake claims to the flaneury of, A Journey Around My Room, and, A Nocturnal Investigation Around My Room - the whole time residing in a childish and/or adult psyche. In the manner of psychogeographer, de Maistre, do I actually have to read those tomes; shall I imagine I have read them and give an account of that literary journey? What sort of pretentiousness would this be? I do all I can to avoid the hormonal quagmire and student japery of adolescent situationalism and God damn, one refuses be drawn in that guise.

Mr Beere, what has this got to do with, From Castaway to Plague Years?

The castaway, Robinson Crusoe, is cited as a pre-eminent and influential figure in psychogeography, an archetype all most. Crusoe was isolated and marooned - cut off from the known world by a vast, cruel and unforgiving ocean.

Defoe, the merchant, in ‘A Journal of the Plague Year’ was also isolated, surrounded by (a sea of?) pestilence and those who quacked in it, as well as the official restrictions to control the spread of the disease.

Each had recourse to his imagination and the wandering mind.

An ethos of mail art was to counter some isolation by artistic communication through the post - and to foster the artistic activities born of isolation, separation, exile, embargo and loneliness. Mail Art could be a culture of connection and exchange via the posted gift. Could it be all those names and addresses in the documentation are ‘Robinsons’ - ‘Robinsonnaires’ who posted calls for recognition and reassurance if not rescue from across the fluxus flows - each item of mail a site of real and imaginary meetings?

Each of us might tell of...

The Life and Strange Surprizing Adventures of ............................., of ................................, Mariner: Who lived Seven and Ten Years, all alone in an un-inhabited Island on the ....................., near the Mouth of the Great River of ...........................; Having been cast on Shore by Shipwreck, wherein all ................... perished but ........self. With An Account how ......... was at last as strangely deliver’d by Pyrates

In my post to the show I cast a clear plastic pop bottle into the mail art ocean. The unwrapped bottle contained a collection of partially rusted nails salvaged from the wreckage of a shed recently destroyed in a storm - homage to Daniel Defoe.

A field student considers a deep sea expedition in search of a crew lost to the depths of the V&A.

Julian Beere said...

Hi David, a big hat tip to the dedication of Field Studies' emanators and manifestators for this fluxus insurgence of the corridors of arts and crafts power - fluxus is life!

'Back in 1993 the Theatre of Names and Addresses studied the field of the V&As lost property department. Field students J.Beere and K.Keller collaborated in the planting of a used William Morris willow pattern decorated address book in the said department. By some mysterious circumstance the book was nowhere to be found when we tried to reclaim it. 17 years should be long enough for them to have found it - if not, Field Studies' manifestations will certainly be more than compensation'.

Yours sincerely,

Jules Beere.

Tuesday, 22 February 2011

a field student of Walthamstows dark marshlands

Lost and Found in E17 seeks to map some of the outdoor public art in Walthamstow and the wider borough. Of particular interest to this field student of E17 (et al), is missing or lost public art.
My daily cycle commute to work usually takes in the mixed pleasures of the Lea Bridge Road and surrounds. This morning I caught sight of this sign at the junction of Lea Bridge Road, Orient Way and Argall Way.

Keeping in with the flow of cycle traffic, I could only manage a cursory glance to look for the sculpture - which I recalled being a light or beacon - before disappearing into the waterworks and on to Hackney Marshes. Was it still there, I asked myself? I made a mental note to look for it on the way home; a journey I knew would take place in the dark.
On return to the junction I couldn’t see the light or the sculpture. I examined the sign a little more, as well as the site immediately around it looking for other signs of the sculptures presence.
The sign reads:
The Bulrush
Created and designed by artist Andrew Dwyer of Free Form Arts Trust, the Bulrush Sculpture relates to the reed which grows in the nearby Walthamstow Marshes.
It was commissioned by the Lea Bridge Gateway Partnership and the London Borough of Waltham Forest to celebrate the regeneration of the local area.

I have travelled up and down the Lea Bridge Road many times in the 10 years I have lived in the area. I am unsure how long it was I didn’t miss ‘The Bulrush’.
I’m missing it now. I’d like to know what has happened to it. I have tried going to the LBWF website to get some information and I have not found answers there. Andrew Dwyer has a website ( on which there are some images of the sculpture. I have also emailed him asking if he knows anything about the fate of ‘The Bulrush’. There doesn’t seem to be an entry for ‘The Bulrush’ on the Public Monuments and Sculpture Association website although there is some information about a sculpture (River God) in the grounds of the waterworks at Coppermill Lane - a sculpture which is normally out of view to the public.
Here are some links to the sculpture, ‘River God’ which has some connections to 'The Bulrush'.
Perhaps ‘The Bulrush’ was intended as a temporary installation, one that fulfilled its purpose and so was removed accordingly. It might be the cost of maintaining it as a working light was too high and that a ‘dead’ light was too incongruous a presence for something supposed to be symbolising ‘regeneration’.
I’m unsure what sorts of bulrush grow on Walthamstow Marshes.
Connecting with a recent thread, the subject of polluted water, ‘The Bulrush’ may have had a fitting presence as symbolising something which can purify water - a form of regeneration essential to all.

Monday, 21 February 2011

a field student of Beulah Path

Beulah Path 20/02/11

Walking from Grove Road towards Barclay Road

and nowhere near Beulah Path



Sunday, 20 February 2011

a field student of monstrous soups

Liz Ellis of 'Rivers under the pavement' facilitated an event at The Big Table, Coppermill Fields, today. The event was held in part to mark World Social Justice Day.
The event was a meeting of hearts and minds with a picnic and talks/activities for everyone to take part in.
As a 'Lost and Found in E17' segue to yesterdays post showing the Anti Cuts march up Hoe Street, artist Fran Wilde gave a talk about Ekta Parishad, a movement and organisation which campaigns for Land Rights and Social Justice for people in rural India. One of the ways the campaigns happen is via mass participatory walks or marches over hundreds of miles involving thousands of people. If I heard correctly, some walks have seen up to 30,000 people walking together over many miles and nights and days. Over the course of a whole walk, hundreds of thousands of people will have participated. The organisation and support which enables the walks to happen is all the more remarkable given the relative material poverty and deprivation the people endure.
for more information,
The talk and discussion I presented, 'The Monstrous Soup of the 19th Century' began by asking what rights we have concerning water. We looked at the history of water provision in 19th century London, illustrated in part by cartoons from Punch, Fun and The Times. The history of water provision in Victorian London is one of stinks and cholera epidemics made all the worse for the institutional resistance to the development of a clean water supply. That people died in their thousands was attributed to (long discredited) miasma theories and disdain for the 'irregular' lives of the urban poor.
The cartoons we looked at:
Monster Soup, 1828. William Heath (Paul Pry).
Father Thames introducing his offspring to the fair city of London, 1858. John Leech. (Punch 182)
The Silent Highwayman, 1858. John Tenniel. (Punch 183)
Sanatory Measures, 1848. John Leech. (Punch 112)
Deaths Dispensary, 1866. George Pinwell. (Fun. 18/8/66)
One of the comments (in the big table discussion) in response to an account of the 1866 East End cholera epidemic pointed to the likelihood of racism/anti-semitism being a major factor in the pumping of dirty water into the East End.
If in 1866, you were able to read, or knew someone who could read, there were cholera warning posters giving the following advice:
If there are any dust or dirt heaps, foul drains, bad smells or other malign smells in the house or neighbourhood, make complaint without delay to the Local Authorities having legal powers to remove them, or if there be no such authorities, or if you do not know who they are, complain to the Board of Guardians.
While Londoners now enjoy relatively safe clean water - and by various statutes, a right to this, many around the world don't. Locally and globally, with burgeoning urban development and population growth there is an urgent issue of how every human being can get clean water and maintain a right to it.
I was surprised to read the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights and not find specific mention of water in it. Article 25 could be interpretted to include clean water as a right - and I was told by one of the participants there is another bill of rights based on the UN's which does declare clean water explicitly as a right.
As a way of concluding on a slightly less grave note we played a game of 'exquisite corpse' assembling new monsters for the soup pot - a few of the exquisite monsters are presented for your indigestion.
One of my aims with 'Lost and Found in E17' is to map and record in various ways, outdoor public art in Waltham Forest. The Big Table (table on the marsh) is one of these art works. 'A field student couldn't get a table at the marsh' presents some photographs from the opening of the table in October 2010.

Saturday, 19 February 2011

a field student of E17's protests

Hoe Street/Bakers Avenue - Saturday 19th February 2011.

The Waltham Forest Anti Cuts March, witnessed from the Organiclea Market Stall at the Hornbeam/Bakers Avenue

Friday, 18 February 2011

a field student of ghosts in the machinations

Here is an offering to the hauntological dumping ground which is, Found Objects. I picked up, Jack Hallam's, Ghosts of London, today at the very excellent Walden Books on Harmood Street, Camden.

This 1975 publication maps many of London and the Home Counties' ghosts. Closest to home for a field student of E17 is the ghost of highwayman, Dick Turpin (d. 1739). The 'overworked spectre of Dick Turpin' was seen near Chingford Mount Cemetery, making it's weary way home after sorties in The Great Forest of Waltham - or, as it was in 1975, and is now, the London Borough of Waltham Forest.

What has become of the 'great' in Waltham's Forest? I suspect a malevolent spirit of Dick Turpin (aka, Robbin' the 'Hoods) has infiltrated the corridors of local governance, adopting more sophisticated practices. Over in the Archipelago of Truth,
Technomist hopes a particular location/institution will be the subject of a police investigation. If this is left to police commanders, will the crime show up on
Freewheeler has taken more direct bloggist action to identify an allegedly criminal dissonant organisation, concerning initiative (lack of it) to improve our neighbourhoods -
I wonder if the administration responsible for the alleged fraud and waste could be romanticized - the equivalent of an Essex Gang - a bunch of peculiarly likeable/voteable (?) rogues plundering the civic coffers? For this though, there would have to be some evidence of the antics funded by the missing millions. What has happened to the missing millions? I suspect, sadly, 'we' will not be treated to the follies of moats and duck-houses as recompense for ours or other's deprivation.
Perhaps nothing so conventional as embezzlement for personal material gain has taken place - in my mind I picture money burning parties renedered in the style of early 19th century cartoonist, William Heath.

a field student of Barclay Path E17

Barclay Path 16/02/11

Using Windows Movie Maker, the field footage has been divided into a series of twenty one, 6 second clips. Every other clip has been speeded up X6.

The walk along Barclay Path was made from Barclay Road towards Grove Road.

Wednesday, 16 February 2011

A field student smells

Broadwick Street, Soho. 16/2/11

I have been immersed in the history of London’s effluvial water, devising or compiling an illustrated time line to accompany a talk about the depiction of water borne diseases in the 19th century. Into this stygian pool I will dive again at the conclusion of this emanation.
In the 19th century, London’s water was described as ‘Monster Soup’; every drop burgeoning with minute aquatic beasties. The creatures and their causes and effects were envisioned by cartoonists of the time. Where did their monstrous visions come from? How did e.g. George Cruikshank and James Gillray summon their menageries of graphically extra-excremental cartoon beings?
The microscope might have been an important tool in influencing their satirical and parodist magic. It was an apparatus with which to conjure the bestial minutiae of London’s fetid and faecal waters. Well over a hundred years before Messrs Gillray and Cruikshank, Robert Hooke (a resident and architect of London) was a pioneer of the microscopic world. In 1665 he published, Micrographia, a collection of microscope enabled illustrations of small creatures; fleas, lice, gnats etc.
In Hooke’s magnified visions a familiar creepy crawly world must have been made grotesquely unfamiliar and so introduced a whole new vocabulary of the horrible and awful. Who consumed these images? How popular and widespread did they become? Were the malodorous plebeians of London and elsewhere gathering around Punch magazines tut tutting in agreement with the cartoon renderings of the dire 19th century sanitation?
A less visual, more olfactory sense of disease occupied the public and popular imagination. Despite the progress in optical/microscope technology, along with the progressive epidemiological field work of John Snow (mid 19th century cholera) authoritative miasmatic theories of disease persisted. The effect of this was to delay and confuse reform and development of public health especially in relation to water and sanitation.
Many epidemiological schools emphasised susceptibility (of some) to cholera was due to the poverty, irregular lives and underdeveloped sense of personal hygiene of particular social groups. Water provided by ‘reputable’ water companies could not, it was claimed, be the source of such a disease. That the 1866 East End cholera outbreak was caused by polluted water taken from the Lea by East London Waterworks Company continues to be disputed.
Surfs of this history have thrown up some intriguing theories as to the nature of water borne disease. This blog post is a good example.
The author attempts to prove a medical hypothesis concerning a link between the East London Waterworks Company (Old Ford Works) and the 1866 cholera outbreak. The mapping process involves extrapolation to include some additional theorisation about reversible laws of physics.
Lost and Found in E17 needs to shift attention back to more visceral content.
I’m unsure to what extent the fertile Lea Valley was or has been additionally fertilised by the night soils of the city. This may be a question to pose to the avant-gardeners, Organiclea, at Hawkwood, way up North in the hills of Chingford. However, in the psycho terrain of Lost and Found in E17, its author considers himself to be the captain of an ether sludge u-boat ever ready to dive further into the depths of the Black Deep.

Sunday, 13 February 2011

a field student connects with confidence

Here is some information to assist persons wishing to view the London Borough of Waltham Forest's, Definitive Map. The information is the result or evidence of some action research in the field of E17. I have not yet made an appointment to view and I am looking forward to reporting on this.
I received the following, as part of an email, on 9th February:

As stated previously the Definitive Map is spread over approx 30 large maps.

I can certainly arrange for the Definitive Maps together with the Statement to be brought to the nearest one stop shop to you, or to Sycamore House which is within the Town Hall Complex. Forest Road. Walthamstow. E17 in early March.

Please can you contact me in order to discuss where you wish to view the maps and statement and to arrange a convenient date to suit you.

Yours sincerely

John Booker

John Booker
Highway Information Officer
Street Naming/Numbering Officer
Environment & Regeneration
Asset Management
Low Hall.
Argall Avenue.
Leyton. London. E10 7AS
Tel: 020 8496 1034


I have been reading, Psychogeography, by Merlin Coverley. In Chapter 1, London and the Visionary Tradition, he identifies some key characters in London's psychogeographic history, among them, Arthur Machen (1863-1947). Coverley quotes Machen, from Things Near and Far,
'And it is utterly true that he who cannot find wonder, mystery, awe, the sense of a new world and an undiscovered realm in the places by the Gray's Inn Road will never find those secrets elsewhere, not in the heart of Africa, not in the fabled hidden cities of Tibet. "The matter of our work is everywhere present," wrote the old alchemists and that is the truth. All the wonders lie within a stone's throw of ...........'
Machen wrote, 'Kings Cross,' but this field student of E17 wants to lob psycho pebbles from Queen's Road and elsewhere about the archipelago.
What base materials are to be found for the alchemy in the land of 30 maps?

a field student of E17 drones

What can account for the hiatus in the lamentable trickle of consciousness which is Lost and Found in E17? Was I abducted as I feared I might be, during expeditions in the lower reaches of the Ching? The reaches comprise a region known by locals as Highams Park, and are considered by some (here and further afield) to be frequented by extra terrestrials intent on abduction.
I have been scouring and panning the bed of the Ching in the hope of discovering gold to alleviate the fiscal woes of the London Borough of Waltham Forest. While the sediments of the Ching have not yet elicited such precious resources, I am happy to report, as a field student of Walthamstow (E17, E10 and E4), there is a source of another form of gold; a flow of the ambrosial sort I call honey.
Yes, I chanced upon an apiary recently. I will not reveal the precise location for fear of alerting sweet toothed vagabonds and raiders, who would, no doubt, plunder Walthamstow’s apian treasure troves. Was this a mirage? Was I dreaming, walking in a sleep induced by a soporific rehash of ‘The Wicker Man’.
Neil LaBute’s, 2006 remake sees Nicholas Cage (‘Malus’) as a celibate and traumatised stateside traffic cop lured into investigating a missing child case on the remote island, ‘Summerisle’. The island is inhabited by a matriarchal community, essentially a bee cult, which is experiencing some mysterious malaise. ‘Malus’ (‘apple tree’) was intended for sacrifice to appease forces that threaten the fecundity of the bees and their community. Alas I was asleep before I could witness Cage’s grisly end. I considered viewing the film again to see if Cage reprises previous celluloid emanations as a stud and so goes the way of a drone (a male bee) to fatally couple with a queen bee, but then I thought the better of it. Lost and Found in E17 strives to maintain a U rating so all are welcome.
In the dream-space of the Ching, I was indeed abducted by a colony of extra terrestrial bees. They spent several days searching for my manhood and upon discovery, mocked this piece and ejected me ignominiously from the mother hive orbiting nowhere near Highams Park.
I woke up aching all over, in front of the television. It was transmitting a sort of pre 24 hour television/end of programme transmission flashing and swarming of dark spots which reminded me of my traumatic and humiliating abduction.
As a sort of therapy I decided I should get on with the task of jarring up honey I harvested from an apiary I share with some fellow keepers up in the far north of Chingford.

This is a the label I designed for this season's honey crop.

And here I make reparations - well in fact, giving back some honey to a recently awakened colony which is unlikely to have enough stores to see it through these dark and lean winter months.

and from:

The Golden Bough
Part VI. _The Scapegoat. pp. 353-54

But if in the most backward state of human society now known to us we find magic thus conspicuously present and religion conspicuously absent, may we not reasonably conjecture that the civilised races of the world have also at some period of their history passed through a similar intellectual phase, that they attempted to force the great powers of nature to do their pleasure before they thought of courting their favour by offerings and prayer--in short that, just as on the material side of human culture there has everywhere been an Age of Stone, so on the intellectual side there has everywhere been an Age of Magic? There are reasons for answering this question in the affirmative. When we survey the existing races of mankind from Greenland to Tierra del Fuego, or from Scotland to Singapore, we observe that they are distinguished one from the other by a great variety of religions, and that these distinctions are not, so to speak, merely coterminous with the broad distinctions of race, but descend into the minuter subdivisions of states and commonwealths, nay, that they honeycomb the town, the village, and even the family, so that the surface of society all over the world is cracked and seamed, sapped and mined with rents and fissures and yawning crevasses opened up by the disintegrating influence of religious dissension. Yet when we have penetrated through these differences, which affect mainly the intelligent and thoughtful part of the community, we shall find underlying them all a solid stratum of intellectual agreement among the dull, the weak, the ignorant, and the superstitious, who constitute, unfortunately, the vast majority of mankind. One of the great achievements of the nineteenth century was to run shafts down into this low mental stratum in many parts of the world, and thus to discover its substantial identity everywhere. It is beneath our feet--and not very far beneath them--here in Europe at the present day, and it crops up on the surface in the heart of the Australian wilderness and wherever the advent of a higher civilisation has not crushed it under ground. This universal faith, this truly Catholic creed, is a belief in the efficacy of magic. While religious systems differ not only in different countries, but in the same country in different ages, the system of sympathetic magic remains everywhere and at all times substantially alike in its principles and practice.

Tuesday, 8 February 2011

a field student fears abduction

Followers may have noticed the disappearance of a recent post - 'a field student locates his psycho tin opener'.


The post is about accessing the London Borough of Waltham Forest's Definitive Map and Statement of Public Rights of Way. The post is saved as a draft and may be republished at a later date when certain complications and technicalities are clarified, concerning what 'confidential' means in the London Borough of Waltham Forest. Being a civic minded chappy I have decided to make polite approaches to some of those involved.


Here is a draft of an email sent today, 8/2/11. The name of the recipient has been erased for the purposes of confidentiality.

The email reads,

Dear ...........,

Thank you for the email message which I assume is intended for me although the content is addressed to .....X..... I believe .....X...... is the One Stop officer/adviser I spoke to when making an enquiry, in person, about accessing the Definitive Map/Public Rights of Way and Statement. Having been assured by the one stop adviser I would be sent a message about my enquiry, I, saw the email subject matter and proceeded to read it. Having read and absorbed much of the content, I then discovered the message could be a confidential communication (re: CONFIDENTIALITY NOTICE). I do apologise for this; I assumed the beginning of the message was an administrative error.

I would like to view the Definitive Map, the purpose of this viewing being research for an art project about footpaths and walking in Waltham Forest (Walthamstow specifically). Would it be possible to view the map and statement in early March?

I apologise for the delay in notifying you about some of the anomalies in/of the email. Would you confirm, if appropriate, that the details enclosed in your communication are confidential i.e. your name, contact details and the brief details concerning the Definitive Map?

Thank you.

Yours sincerely,

Mr J A Beere.




The confidentiality notice which would be attached, at the bottom of the message, to an in house council email communication would read:

CONFIDENTIALITY NOTICE: The information contained in this e-mail is intended only for the individual, persons or entity to whom it is addressed.

It may contain privileged and confidential information and, if you are not the intended recipient, you must not read, copy or distribute it, nor take any action in reliance upon it. If you have received this e-mail in error, please inform the sender as soon as possible and delete the e-mail from your computer.

I look forward to a reply.

My readership numbers/page visits are usually very small however today, there has been a relatively blogospheric spike - according to the stats utility. I have reviewed my civic responsibility. There have been over 100 visits today all ready; a massive increase on the usual 10 (or less). It seems my quoting Will Self's use of the word, 'abduction' and my accounts of perambulations in 'Highams Park' has attracted some specialist interest.

The stats reveal a referring URL, thus:

Some of the sites, including a Waltham Forest Guardian article, contain information of this nature:

Location. Highams Park, London, England
Date: February 21 2009
Time: 2200
Mrs. P, a 52 year old swimming instructor was walking her dog with her boyfriend when she thought she saw young children playing with a torch in the woods. As she approached the forested area, the torch was shone on her, and she noticed burnt footprints on the ground and the smell of sulfur. The little figure that resembled a child in stature entered a white cylinder that was 4foot long. The cylinder then turned a glowing red and took off trailing two jets of flame. Mrs. P watched the cylinder ascend to the cloud base and pass through it.

HC addendum
Source: Flying Saucer Review Autumn 2008
Type: B


It is with some trepidation I am preparing for my next evening stroll here in the archipelago of truths which are out there. Of course I am being hysterical when imagining my unwitting communications with the (secret?) services of LBWF may prompt covert operations aimed at eliminating a certain security risk.

a field student finds........

............ maps of a lost magic kingdom on the trail of the Archipelago of Truth.

Monday, 7 February 2011

a field student locates his psycho tin opener

The path which ‘cycles and walks’ between Empress Avenue and Cavendish Road does not have, as far as I have looked, name signs. I imagine all sorts of names do exist for this path, ranging from the local, private and informal to the public and official (a man who knows). I, at the limits of my imagination, have been referring to the path as,'The Ching Path’. Some of the personalities in ‘Lost and Found in E17’ are not averse to sign-less paths and have considered a concerted campaign of name sign removal to remystify my Shangri La. Of the other personalities, some have doubts about mystification and the criminal implications of illegally removing or vandalising public property. This might be a situation in which there is intra personal dissonance - a divided self of multiple viewpoints. In this instance, despite the dissonance, I'm happy to report the law abiding and civilly responsible have won out.

In, a field student draws a blank map, I gave an account of some personal efforts to find the definitive map and statement for the London Borough of Waltham Forest. This is/was an attempt to locate who is an authority on footpaths and how they exercise their power (not, I imagine, by walking). My dissonance has involved a crisis of confidentiality, or guilt at being a party to privileged information. I have been frantically searching for the psycho-tin-opener with which to spill the beans. What was it doing in the bathroom (I mean shower-room) cabinet?

Here then, is a copy of some of the communication I received following personal enquiries about the LBWF definitive map and statement:


Definitive map -- public right's of way and statement.‏


........ B........ (LBWF Highway Information Officer)
From: .......... B........ (
Sent: 26 January 2011 11:17:13

Dear ................... (One Stop officer)

Thank you for your enquiry regarding the above.

The Definitive Map is spread over approx 30 large maps.

If you wish to view all the maps I can arrange for them to be brought to the nearest one stop shop to you, or to Sycamore House which is within the Town Hall complex.

Please could you contact me so we can discuss your requirements and arrange a date for you to view.

Yours sincerely

........... B...........

............ B...........
Highway Information Officer
Street Naming/Numbering Officer
Environment & Regeneration
Asset Management
Low Hall.
Argall Avenue.
Leyton. London. E10 7AS
Tel: 020 8496 1034

CONFIDENTIALITY NOTICE: The information contained in this e-mail is intended only for the individual, persons or entity to whom it is addressed.
It may contain privileged and confidential information and, if you are not the intended recipient, you must not read, copy or distribute it, nor take any action in reliance upon it. If you have received this e-mail in error, please inform the sender as soon as possible and delete the e-mail from your computer.

This message has been checked for all viruses by BTnet VirusScreen.
The service is delivered in partnership with MessageLabs.

This service does not scan any password protected or encrypted

This is a curious communication. I don't recall seeing Street Naming and Numbering, on the council website.

In order to maintain some confidentiality I have removed the name of the Waltham Forest Direct/One Stop/LBWF officers to whom it was also addressed. I will contact ....... B......., keeper of the names, to make an appointment to view the maps. I assume the invitation is made to me.

How large is ‘large’? I’m intrigued. That there are ‘approx’ 30 is equally intriguing. If the map sheets are the size, e.g. of a 1:50000 Ordnance Survey, Landranger Map, the definitive map of LBWF could cover quite a lot of ground - space, if all laid out, for some performance art mapping in the manner of Yves Klein may be. As there is just one set of maps I imagine ........ B........ would not appreciate action body painting upon the paper terrain, even if some of that terrain is drawn blank and relevantly dated.

Perhaps the definitive map of Waltham Forest could be created in the manner of ‘The World’ of Dubai, which Will Self has written about in, Psycho Too. There are some large faded photographs of ‘The World’ in a shop front on Shoreditch High Street. ‘Waltham Forest’ could be rendered on the Arcade site, or ‘the dogs’ although those sites may not match the scale appropriate for this borough’s planning shenanigans.

For what planning purposes would I be requesting a view of the map/s? I have an idea to make a collection of Walthamstow’s public footpaths, embodied in different ways which I could then reassemble to invent some new environments specifically for the walker. Quite a while ago I listened to a radio documentary about the Rat Park Experiment. More information about this can be accessed here

With all the fragments of paths brought together to create such an experimental place, glimpses of Heaven (E17) would be there to be had.

Sunday, 6 February 2011

Saturday, 5 February 2011

a field student: Walking the Ching UK Premiere 2nd February


My persistent hacking cough is unlikely to have endeared me to my flat mates recently and so they were probably relieved when I set out for last night’s walk, providing them with some respite from a self consumptive and irritating expellent.
I decided I needed a good soup made with ingredients sourced from the benevolence of the ultra local flora and fauna. I will usually be found grazing in the graminivor’s field however last night my appetite was for something meatier - a ‘chickeny’ or ‘fishy’ broth. What prompted this?
The source of the cough might be the dusty books I have been reading while researching the depiction of water borne diseases, particularly in cartoon form, up until the beginning of the 20th century. I was probably unwise to have licked my lips while examining the monstrous menagerie bobbing about in London’s water during the 19th century. What beasties reside in London’s 21st century water?
While preparing for the nocturnal forage, dare I say stalk, I reflected grimly on how long it would take for me to be found in my room if I expired from swine flu or some other disease currently on the rampage. I really should get out more. I could go and knock on the doors of some imaginary or virtual psycho-buddies and ask if they want to come out and play. It’s ok, it’s safe; I’ve deflated every single car tyre in Walthamstow, in my dreams. Alas, Technomist is recovering from altitude sickness and Freewheeler is lost in the depths of another London Borough of Waltham Forest implementation plan in portable document format. Anna is way out there beyond the stalking mode, and Wendy doesn’t do darkness. So I resigned myself to a perambulation with just a plastic bucket and fishing net on a bamboo stick for company.

Here in Lost and Found, you might find the stirrings of a fascination with the history of water and sanitation in London. I talked to the bucket about Roy Porter’s, enjoyable, London: A Social History. He (RP) recounts ‘the great stink’ - a Stygian pool (of laissez faire dogmatism?) and tragicomic indifference to mass outbreaks of cholera resulting from diabolical sanitation and landed wrangling over water provision. The last ‘great’ outbreak of cholera in Whitechapel (in the late 19th century) sprang from the fetid waters of the Lea and with this in mind I cautiously decided to visit another of Walthamstow’s watery margins, The River Ching. The bucket was overly pensive for it didn’t reply or say a thing during the whole walk.

What serendipity! St Mary’s bells were ringing out into the night while my feet took me to the river. I recalled some lines from Psalm 91 (King James Version)...
Thou shalt not be afraid for the terror by night, nor the arrow that flieth by day.
Nor the pestilence that walketh in darkness; nor the destruction that wasteth at noonday.
.....lines which persuaded Daniel Defoe’s fictional character, in, A Journal of the Plague Year, to stay put in Aldgate and see out the plague. I’m informed Daniel Defoe is one of the seminal ‘psychogeographers’ and therefore essential reading for any field student aspiring to competence in this subject. This is also an apt point at which to recall another of David Dellafoira’s fine mail art shows, a collective emanation comprising eclectic postal homage to Defoe, ‘Castaway to Plague Years’, at Stoke Newington Library in the early 1990s.
Reassured by the bells, I proceeded, as a field student of E17, to diligently scribble notes as I walked. The convolutions of pencilled curlicues, squiggles and pothooks took on a character of increasingly delirious automatism. Eventually I got to where I was going; another riverside path without a name as far as I could see but which cycles and walks from Empress Avenue (E4), via Walthamstow Stadium, The Peter May Centre, Rushcroft School and Highams Park, to Cavendish Road (E4). This is Walthamstow E4, as defined by the parliamentary constituency boundary, a northern edge which is inscribed along the meandering Ching.

I paddled, quacked and delved in the trickle of the stream between banks of desolated memories of overgrown and lush waterside frondescence. How bare, how bleak this edge is at this time of year. Still, then heron like, I stalked and dipped a net for beasties, morsels to flesh out my broth. The cool and sepulchral humidity salved my chest and throat, which have been cooked sore by over exposure to centrally heated air.
I gave up the hunt and just as well you might say for, truly, how alive is, The Ching, and how life giving is whatever ‘lives’ in it?

Nearby, ‘the dogs’ loomed grimly that night, bereft of its’ sentinel ‘neonhounds’. It is via the Archipelago of Truth, I know something of how Walthamstow Stadium is a disputed site and the disputations seem insurmountable; indeed they make an ascent of K2 look like an urban stroll in Higham Hill. They are affecting the site in ways I consider fantastic. What sort of warped zone is this in which the trees are walking through the walls, growing into and lifting the building claiming ground for another twilit forest of monstrous symbols?

I found my way home to the comfort of a tin of bitter sweet lemon grass soup.

photo studies of trees growing by Walthamstow Dogs, 2nd February 2011.

in 2008, I discovered this near Battersea