Thursday, 18 March 2010

Follow the directions

My fourth journey earlier this week saw me vainly trying to follow a set of directions in order to disorientate myself and get lost.

The Rules

- Select a page at random from the A-Z
- Follow the directions 'second right, second right, first left'
- If you come to a dead end, retrace your steps and take the next turning
- If you come to a park or piece of open ground, cross it and continue following the directions
- Do not consult the map

This kind of approach to wandering is one that was practiced by the Situationists( in an attempt to defamiliarise themselves from their habitual methods of navigating the urban landscape.  Sometimes called an 'algorithm walk', it is characterised by a randomly generated set of repeated instructions, the idea being to break your normal destination or purpose-based motives for traversing the map - the so-called 'locomotion without a goal'. The idea is quite simple - choose a starting point and you're off.  In theory anyway.  The reality proved to be quite different and extremely frustrating!

The throw of the dice selected Page 35 of my A-Z which turned out to be Chingford - one of the far distant north eastern squares on the A-Z.  It proved to be quite a marathon just to reach it as there is no tube station on that page.  My journey involved a tube ride to Walthamstow Central and then a bus northwards.  On emerging from the tube into the bus station, I had completely lost my bearings and had to ask the lady bus driver if this bus was indeed going north as I hoped.  I might as well have been asking if it went to the moon for all she understood me.  I gave up and got on....

Walthamstow Greyhound Stadium at the bottom of my page of the map was the walk's point of departure.   A striking Art Deco building which was affectionately known as the Lord's of the Dogs, it sadly closed in 2008 and is now earmarked for housing development.  A good start to the walk but from then on it was anything but plain sailing.  My first 'second right' turned out to be a dead end - with a playing field at the bottom blocked off by a mesh fence.  Ditto the next turning.  Following turnings led to a school, or into a maze of suburban streets that just fed into eachother in a perpetual circle.  The next road was so long that by the time I got to the bottom of it, I couldn't remember if I was going left, right or just mad.  In a fit of pique I abandoned the process and just wandered aimlessly.  According to the rules - a total failure, but at least I had given it a go.

When I got home and sorted the through the day's photographic trawl, I noticed several themes emerging, as usual in a totally non-intentional way.  For a person totally disinterested in sport of all kinds, I seem to have taken quite a number of sport-themed photographs.....

                              .....and as for red, I just can't seem to avoid it.

To be continued


  1. I very like to read your sentences about your new experiences - it is a kind of exploring a city in a rather daring/risky way which may be absolutely contrary to a more touristic-like sightseeing exploring! The Art Deco building is a gem, what a pity that it has been closed in 2008 as stadium! -and I like the red Hula-hupp-ring or another toy hanging on the tree! Fine red serendipities you came across! On the last photo: Are daisies growing on the meadow -or some Japanese cherry blossoms fallen down?

  2. The are golfballs on a golf driving range!
    I'm pretty sure they don't get many tourists in this part of town either.