Posts filed under ‘Other people zedding’
You may remember the lovely people at Urban Earth, who caused me to walk across Manchester in the dark and then across Leeds. Last weekend they organised Urban Tweet Day, with people in loads of different cities tweeting about their days.
Mainly, it was all about the snow, surprisingly enough. There were some really pretty, poetic posts though – if you’d like to see it all, check out #utday on Twitter, or see a condensed version of the whole thing at the Urban Adventure blog.
We still haven’t quite got the hang of tweeting, but I had a potter around Chorlton and tweeted some thoughts. I was feeling a bit disappointed that I’d not seen anything interesting, when the zedding gods smiled on me.
What appeared to be the entire cast of a pantomime wandered across the road, to much honking from passing cars. You really couldn’t make this stuff up.
Eventually the cold became too much for me and I went for coffee indoors. Looking forward to the next thing, though: Urban Sound Week.
The writer and film-maker Iain Sinclair is, like us, a fan of walking in cities. With books like London Orbital, he’s brought a literary kind of psychogeography to a wide audience. (Although he’s uncomfortable with the term psychogeography – he’s talked instead about ‘deep topographies’, which is a lovely idea – exploring the shapes and patterns hidden beneath what we can see.)
Anyway, we’ve had a couple of chances recently to hear more about his work. Firstly, he came and explored Manchester. For a special feature in Corridor 8 magazine, he did a walk from Urbis to the airport – covering some of the same ground as the Manchester Sunrise walk we took part in. You can now download an MP3 and printable guide from the Urbis website – Listening for the Corncrake – and do the same walk he did. I particularly like the fact that there’s a children’s version of the map, with psychogeographical colouring activities.
I got to go along to the launch of the magazine and hear him talk about the walk, which was great. A different kind of approach from ours, laden with references to art, history and literature. As a Brummie who’s enjoying getting to know Manchester, it was good to hear another outsider’s view. (Sinclair is very strongly associated with London, particularly Hackney where he’s lived for decades.) And a lot of Manchester’s other urban ramblers were there in the audience too.
Then Marie and I both got to see him at the Greenbelt festival, in conversation with John Davies, the vicar who walked the M62. (There was a nice psychogeographical theme at the festival – Jon Bounds gave a couple of talks on why Birmingham isn’t shit and the 11:11:11 psychogeographical bus journey. We enjoyed his celebration of the crap, the mundane and the everyday.)
The conversation was really interesting, picking up strongly on the ways that walking and exploring can be a spiritual, transcendental experience. In a nice contrast with our attempts to get lost in new places, Sinclair does the same walk through the area around his home every day. He had some interesting things to say about it:
‘Simply by doing exactly the same walk every day my radar bumping off things confirms my own identity, and if something’s changed then I change with it. And also your whole body, all the molecules, are shaken up a little and doing that same walk every single day, quite briskly, really does clear my head, allows the night’s dreams and things to settle, prepares you for the writing of the day, and so in a sense I do regard it as a kind of walking meditation, as a kind of reconnection with London in every sense. Practically it might be thought to be be boring because you’re seeing the same thing every day but actually it is the everyday becoming transcendent in a very simple way.’
Good stuff. You can download the conversation from the Greenbelt website (together with another talk he gave about London Orbital), and it’s certainly inspired me to go away and read some of his books.
This isn’t really a zedding. There was no a to z. Liam wasn’t with me so I feel a bit unfaithful adding it to our blog. But somehow it was zedding, just as you can be following an a to z without zedding you can take the awareness that characterises zedding into a different form of exploration. The other Sunday I decided I would go and meet the nice people at the Loiterer’s Resistance Movement. Liam was in Birmingham so I headed off myself. In the the John Rylands Library Cafe I introduced myself “my name is Marie and I loiter” We went off to loiter in a group, before we left we were each given a word, we were to look for a secret that connected with the city and it’s people with our word. I had “yellow” which seemed to make yellow stuff more vibrant.
Us loiterers found a cage for cars and some people danced on it.
We stopped out side some offices and disobeyed a sign. I have some sympathy with whoever works in the office and has smokers chatting outside their window. I say get the smokers away from my kitchen window and back in the pub. Has anyone noticed how the smoking ban is changing the feel of the city, more people on the streets, more shelters outside bars, more mess in the streets as no one cleans up cigarette butts. How is it changing the atmosphere of your city?
We went into a soulless car park and looked at the view from the window where the lift stopped on the 20th floor. You couldnt see from the actual 20th floor in the big soulless room for cars which disappointed me. Liam and I discovered the joy of multi story car parks way before we discovered zedding. Go to the top of the car park by Birmingham Snow Hill station – it’s worth it.
Then we… er… loitered a bit. We stopped on the bridge for a while and told stories about the river.
We found a secret door, which is pleasing to loiterers. Through it I saw some boots, which are pleasing to loiterers, we also found a giant sycamore helicopter sculpture which one of the guys climbed.
I choose to draw people’s attention to the yellow banana, because I had the word yellow. But I chose the banana rather the yellow signs I’d seen telling me to go somewhere, exhorting me to buy something, yellow things with no mystery and no soul. People had chosen to put the big yellow banana out of their window and we will never know why. And that’s about people making a city interesting, by being interesting, by creating moments of serendipity for other people, people making the city beautiful.
I had some other thoughts from the experience: How different it was to explore in a group. Liam and I don’t attract attention, no one wants to know what Liam and I are doing. We are anonymous explorers, we can get in hotel lifts and go to top floor for the joy of peeking out onto the city as the sun fades and the lights come on. Two people doing nothing doesn’t invite comment, when 20 people do nothing does it make it something?
And thoughts about public space and sacred space, how sacred space is public space and what does that mean for the explorer and those who hold it sacred? But that’s for another day.