Friday, 20 August 2010


This summer, commissioned by Robin Turner's ROAM project, I undertook a walk of each east London Olympic borough: Walthamstow, Hackney, Newham & Tower Hamlets (grouped together to make one walk), and Greenwich.

Seeing as the bicycle utopia that many self-consciously subversive Londoners have been trying to will into being has become a Barclays-sponsored commuter-friendly enterprise under His Royal Blondeness, Boris, it seems the only decent mode of travel a refusenik has left these days is to walk. However, to say that you are going to walk a fair distance - across a borough, say - draws desperate scrambling from certain company, who fling their Oyster Cards at you, try and lend you their bikes, reel off endless bus routes, train stations, and taxi company numbers in an effort to save you from being exposed to the monotony of London's endless concrete jungle.

Yet it is in traversing these streets by foot that one experiences London's layers; in London Fields, Hackney, for example, it is difficult to meditate on the Death Factory, former home of industrial music pioneers Throbbing Gristle that still stands today, when you are powering past it on two wheels, following the commuter flow in or out of the centre. Slowing down the process allows you to better absorb London's life, and its remnants.

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