Stories From Forgotten Space builds on 2014 Mapmaking with the aim of taking the most prominent features of the project a little further.
The previous section of Stories from Forgotten Space can be found here:
28 March 2015
“2 miles north of Wakefield centre. Cutting under a bridge. There is a Large Yorkshire flag planted in somebody’s garden as close to the mainline railway track as possible. The railway represents the gaze of the world passing by. I see more patriotically-placed flags close to railway tracks than anywhere else.”
“The future, now drab. Stare out onto the M62 motorway from the bridge. I’m listening to Autobahn by Kraftwerk, with an hyper-realist album cover (always in mind, when listening to the album), and a Utopianist outlook on the still-then-new motorway systems. In this world we now have , when motorways are supersaturated into the netting of everyday life, their beauty is there still, yet it is inaccessible – whilst trapped in a series of systems that are threatening to destroy us.”
“A view of central Leeds from inside the large housing estate of Middleton. The Blade-Runner-made-real-by-Dubai effect of Bridgewater Place (specifically) juxtaposed with the style of redbrick houses council houses my grandparents, and their contemporaries, both raised our parents and dragged their parents into from the Victorian slums, creates two opposing worlds. A world of superclass and underclass, of sci-fi dog-eat-dog-dystopia actualised, contrasting with the post war working class life of mild frustration, old religious ornaments (clinging on in a Brave New World), soggy crackers and hard bread. Still inhabited houses, occupied by proud owners seem to jolt into a reality that they have been told they don’t belong in. The popular music from the 60’s/70’s/80’s still seems to echo off the buildings constituting these estates, but nothing post 2000.”
“In Quality Save in the Merrion Centre, Leeds, now a low-budget shopping centre, pushed as far from the train station as possible. The stress is always far more tangible in these shops, the children cry with a harshness and duration not witnessed in the shops further down towards the upmarket end. It is too much for my dehydrated, weekend-discontented self to deal with, and I have to drop my intended purchases and swap this ‘contained’ noise for the open-air noise of the roads outside.”
“Two men and a woman, in low-budget clothing, and drenched from the afternoon downpour (the poor never manage to evade the rain), walk down the road that divides the older working class part of central Leeds, the open air market and bus station, with the newer promotional images of glamour, posted up on the boards circumventing the construction of an high-end-consumer complex, which aims to be an appendage to the bastion-of-arrogance The Victoria Quarter – an enclave of very high end consumables, just across the road. I feel a violence from being sandwiched between a life of poverty that nobody desires, and 6 foot photographs of ‘chiselled’ and vibrant representatives of a world that shows no empathy to a hard life that wears away the such ‘modelling’ looks.”
“I walk up a side street towards Westgate in Wakefield centre, containing Mexican/Latin-themed bars/eateries. Whenever I see enclaves made for social occasions, my body throws out an instantly-vapourising excitement. It is a perpetually-frustrated excitement, borne out of factors (such as the promises, and a loneliness) specific to our times, due to a potential for social space that I neither ever tap into, or lacks the ability to be tapped into due to being nothing other than an image of socialising.”
April 4 2015
“Walking down Smyth Street, Wakefield city centre. There is a poster on the side of a club for an upcoming Heaven 17 gig – a group known for their ‘Temptation’ track. But that was well over 30 years ago. Something so distant, made near again through comeback tours. But it still feels distant, like it doesn’t belong here now, but is here nonetheless due to the void in genuine cultural production.”
“On Ings Road dual carriageway. Under a railway bridge that looks older than everything else on the road, a Sainsburys delivery van drives past me. I can just about make out that somebody has appropriated a phrase made popular after the terrorist killing of the French cartoonist/satirist Charlie Hebdo, (earlier this year) to write ‘Je Suis Clarkson’ in the dirt on the back of the van, seemingly in support of the plight of recently sacked BBC presenter/bully Jeremy Clarkson. The irony in using the words for Jeremy Clarkson, however, is possibly lost on the writer. As both are/were indeed alike in respect of their (arguably) one-dimensional idea of freedom of speech. It is arguable that both had aimed their “I-can-say-what-I-want/Attack-who-I want” jibes at those in weaker, less powerful positions than themselves.”
“A gang of young people have a air of brashness with the entrance into Wakefield bus station – the lurching search for amusement. I walk past them with the intention of exiting the bus station, but turn back on myself in usual Saturday afternoon indecisiveness. Shouts come from behind me. I notice a young male, who turns out to be some sort of ring-leader of the group, who’s hybrid style of urban/street with indie-boy surprises me, still surprised, as I am, by such hybrids in our super-saturated times. He keeps advancing towards a dishevelled-looking man, who looks to have a mixture of alcohol addiction, financial, and learning problems; 3 issues that act as weakness in a bullying culture that this young, confident man, seems happy to exploit in order to amuse his gang. The dishevelled man responds exactly how the gang wishes him to respond by lashing out manically at the young man, in the process exposing the distress that the situation is causing him. The young man capitalises on every sign of vulnerability-viewed-as-weakness to escalate the spectacle. Everybody in the bus station is staring, including myself. I look around to see if any security or police are knocking around – on the few times you wish they were every where – but there are none to be seen. And surely the police would see me as wasting their time? After all no ‘real’ harm is being done, is it? The bullies win – as they always do when the vulnerable are no longer seen as vulnerable, but as losers. And bullying is so saturated into our society, via an emphasis on competition that oozes from screens, and creeps into work places.”
“How can you feel anything but loss walking through the tree-lined suburbs (St John’s area of Wakefield)? ‘We’re all middle class now’ – more faded than any sun-bleached abandoned billboard can ever be. Of course these undead desires of a leafy, suburban, fresh-veg-eating lifestyle still appeal to me; I was at the ripe age in the 1990’s to be saturated with them, believing that it was both totally desirable, to the point where a 2.4 children, ‘happy ending’ seemed inevitable. Not any more. And I feel ashamed it still clings to me.”
“A gymnasium offering 24 hour access on the corner of Trinity Walk. Work never ends now. The allure of (the appearance of) productivity, of an enviable, toned, professional and industrious subjectivity is very strong, stronger by the day. But where is the room for life anymore? For happenings, chance encounters?”
“Michael speaks of how the non-place nature of the private/public space of Trinity Walk doesn’t quite work for him, due to its usage of previously-existing streets that he remembers from childhood, making for an odd experience where the zero-gravity effect of pure simulacrum-consumption suddenly becomes grounded in a very specific space.”
After traveling on this road for the first time in 3 weeks (that’s a long time for me not to be in Barnsley) the ‘old girls’ school’, now a compound of mildly-desirable apartments, strikes me as a stand out feature on this very leafy, suburban entrance into a town that still conjures images of ugly, northern grittiness in the minds of the rest of the country. But this leafy avenue is to nowhere, as the town in anticipates is somewhat absent. And it is to the frustration of a ‘native’ of the scattered former coal mining empire that clusters around Barnsley centre. A constant hope for a town centre that offers something. But momentum always fades, and it now seems to have died back more than any time in living memory. To the extent that the suburbs may have lost their entire purpose to Leeds/Sheffield commuter settlements. This entrance is one of those that suggests something that seems to be forever displaced.”
“Sat in chain cafe talking to Dave, 6pm/post-work, only non-alcohol-orientated place open at this time. We are in agreement, that out-and-out revolution just wouldn’t work right now, and we need to get back to a building a socially-progressive structure that can look to a future again. We are sat behind a group of teenage girls. I become aware of the inherently-pretentious-sounding nature of such a conversation, especially within a chain cafe. But their repetitive glances away from their friends are fortunately (or unfortunately) towards their phone screens and my presumed accusation of “trying to sound all clever” is proven to be false. But there again I’ve only ever had such an accusation from older generations. I begin thinking of how the possibly-intentional misconception of what it means to be ‘grown up’ in our culture usually means to become more conservative and to move away from once-held ideals. We mock straight-outta-college young people for acclaiming that “the revolution is coming”, aware of the relentless tide of disappointments awaiting them that will wear this out. But the problem is in our possibly-intentional conflation of idealism with naivety. Older people can still remain true to their ideals for a better world, a long time after their naïve expectations of the immanence of revolution are worn away. They can do this without becoming resigned to ‘the way of the world’ once they accumulate a few small comforts they don’t want to part with.”
“Post 6pm Peel Square/Peel Street. Never seen so many semi-destitute/semi-destroyed lives anaesthetised by drink. On the corner of Peel Square and Market Hill two men crouch over an electricity box, seemingly impatiently trying to see what’s revealed on a scratch-card. As we walk up Peel Street two men struggle to walk, so ‘out of it’ that I mistake their growling expressions as the beginnings of potential hostilities towards me and Dave. I look to my right, up the walkway ‘Dog Lane’, to see a drunken man set on the steps with his head in his hands. Yeah, it’s been a rare sunny week (to the which the UK seems to always respond by drinking), but this is a dead end getting closer and closer. It can’t go on.”
“The tragedy of ‘Che Bar’. A night club, with that typical semi-derelict look during day time, which means you can never tell whether it has ceased trading or not, offering dead-end night-time pleasure-seeking on a street that (due to the premature cut off caused by the ring road) embodies a dead end. A smashed window with a Cuban flag behind it; but it’s the can of Stella that somebody has somehow managed to lob onto the lettering for ‘Che’ that strikes me and Dave as most tragically symbolic. Che Guevara, a left wing revolutionary. No one image embodies that which stands in the way of revolution/social change in contemporary times that a crate of Stella Artois.”
9, 10 April 2015
“ #I get so lonely, lonely, lonely. Got to be some good times ahead# – the Freddy Mercury dance song from yesteryear becomes haunting, and fitting, in this post-6pm, empty shopping mall [The Ridings, Wakefield]. A moment that acts as a metaphor for the wider feeling of being ‘stuck’. Aged 9, at the beginning of my life, this was one a few songs to be etched into my thinking that seemed to represent a perceived-ending of something. I become captive the song’s memory-reprising as I frantically root through my rucksack in vain for the camera I thought I’d packed. 9 years old, travelling between Cornish holiday destinations. With recently improved standard of living for the family, Cornwall looked so different from previous holiday destinations; it looked more like they did on the TV. 1993 – a new world seemed to beckon. But what else would I feel in the early 90’s? I caught the wave of cultural optimism telling me that poverty, war and misery had been eradicated by those good people from the century we were close to leav
.ing. This song: it felt like a closure of all of that – a waving goodbye. But it never went away, it just got stronger.”
“Unlike Barnsley (in fact, unlike any other town I can think of), Wakefield seems to have an active night-life throughout the week, as if it has been permitted to stay in the 90’s/early 00’s indefinitely. The bars are sometimes lacking any revellers, but even then they remain open, playing 90’s House music to nobody. It’s as if the night scene is like an old clock in an unoccupied building that chimes to itself right on time, every day, regardless.”
“The Tickets Officer approaches me as I enter Kirkgate station’s platforms. Their increasing presence closing in on those fluke times when you get a free ride – those little bits of luck that do much to take some of the weight of everything off your day. Not unfriendly, just non-friendly transactions – as they must always assume that we’re trying to ‘pull a fast one’ at such stations. Notice PMT/SML/PST (? – some abbreviating anyway) above Northern Rail on his staff name tag. A security firm subcontract, or joint venture – whatever it is it makes me queasy. But it’s not the officer’s fault. He hums a tune whilst we wait for the machine to print my ticket. Just like me, he’s trying to make ends meet. The relationship between vendor and customer may be constitutive of false bonds, but maybe they’re the only bonds now holding the entire social structure together, after 40-years-hate-your-neighbour has been drilled into us. I think how futile calls for immediate insurrection, anarchic alternatives are after 40 years of Thatcherism. “We’d tear each other apart – we’ve been bred to hate each other”. Any change surely has to begin with slow social transformation, before any high-end idealism could work – to help us not see each other purely as competitors for diminishing returns.”
“A long queue begins to form in the Poundland shop in Wakefield centre, as the cashier is way behind our contemporary demands for Internet-speed purchasing in the physical world. Nobody who has been emotionally hijacked in futility to prove themselves of worth in an entrepreneurial society can endure being in Poundland for too long. “Why can’t the cashier be faster/better? Why can’t I be faster/better?” What an harsh world we’ve made.”
“Approaching Darton railway station. This railway line (from Sheffield up to Leeds) could stand in for my entire adult life. And I increasingly have this feeling that it at least owes me something.”
“I pass 30 pence to an homeless woman on the road leading northwards from The Headrow towards the Universities. Homeless on street corners of UK cities so normal now it almost becomes assimilated into the simulcra of ‘city scene’. Not quite entirely though; the exhaustive sense of responsibility and potential vulnerability to homelessness it provokes in me cuts through all the Simulcra City that often eases us into our desire to shirk responsibility.”
“Millennium Square [Leeds] empty of fun fares/winter festivals, open space freed up again. Breathable. The only real breathing space in the city – maybe there is down by the canal, but down there the constant barrage of kitted-up joggers provokes too much anxiety over one’s own ‘biopolitical value’. The paving stones of Millennium Square stretch into the horizon of seating areas constituting workers gearing up for their UKWeekend (the macho football-fan-like chanting erupting from one of the tables is too far way to bother me). A young girl takes advantage of the open space to ride her scooter up and down, in a simplistic manner that could momentarily strike you as a shard from our post-war past, in our current securitised, paranoid, surveillance state. Whilst I become mildly incensed over my inability to tell myself just what it is I find so wrong about the big screen replays of the highly skilled performers involved in the ‘Grande Departe 2014’ (the ranter within internally shouts “Jesters for Dystopia!), an homeless man, too honest for me to dispute any of his story, very politely asks me for money for food. But having given change to the homeless woman, and worrying over my own financial-capabilities to stand as tall as I can in this world, I refrain from giving him any change. I feel bad. What could I do? This isn’t breathing space at all. Breathing space doesn’t exist. I move on.”
“Walking past the high rise blocks of ‘luxury apartments’ along the canal-side. Man looks pleased with himself; enjoying the sun. Who can blame him? I want to. I want to blame something. Bad feelings building like nausea. So much choice, no fruition. Always barred entry. It isn’t choice though – always the same stale taste. A group of lads all suited-up. Maybe they work in the city. But all together. In unison. The lads away from home.”
“Under the footbridge crossing the canal are the ragged remnants of somebody’s sleeping place. Still used or not – it’s hard to tell. It seems an odd place to choose, but if one is constantly moved on within the city streets, what choice is there? Like the ever-increasing visibility of homelessness on the streets, this again highlights the severity of it.”
“Walking down the side of the canal (where the old Leeds/Liverpool canal ends). Sometimes everybody seems 6 foot; neoliberal perfection achieved in body-form. Jogging, laughing, they make me look like the 1980’s flotsam and jetsam washed up on the shore of the ‘Brave New 90’s’. Of course, this is just the gentrified city landscape, but this acknowledgement just makes it so much worse.”
“As I walk this city alone, with every instance collapsing my efforts to be at ease into a now-default gritting of teeth/poker-face, I know in my heart of hearts that my loneliness is a political issue, bigger than me whom it is inflicted upon. Yet in words it will forever provoke its response of violin-strings-mimcry-mockery. My decision to buy a soft drink when I reach the pub, and finally managed to quench my thirst, lapses into a determined desire for an alcoholic drink.”
11 April 2015
“Barnsley central. I always like my home town at this time, within a 11:30AM – 1:30PM period; a short, vibrant energy that vanishes into fear-inducing zombie-pleasure-addiction (like all UK towns?) as the day descends into night. Unfortunately I was more of a captive participator in the latter – one of the reasons I felt It was wise to temporarily leave here, even if such instilled behavioural patterns follow me.”
“As I walk toward the exit in a charity shop on Division Street (Sheffield), the Power Ballad CD playing in the shop sticks, repeating a one second point on the song over and over. It always takes us a moment to realise what has occurred. And why do we all smirk when we realise? Is it because such technical faults momentarily reveal the truth? That the ‘stuck record’ is the truth.”
“As I look down the hill from West Street I notice a huge banner draped down the side of (what I thought still were) the BT offices. But such a banner surely states that they’re now being converted into student accommodation. The aspirationalism of it all (a word that would sound bizarre in association with student life even a decade ago) is an underlying given due to the “book now/don’t miss out” promise/warning. I would’ve never imagine that such an dominating block of offices within this city would eventually become student accommodation and once-again reminds me of what is big business now in this city. I would’ve never imagined myself thinking negatively of the expansion if universities/colleges within our towns/cities, but maybe I should have been careful of what I wished for. Education purely as business, driven by profit-making, with perpetual expansion is (dare I say it, as a Post-Grad?) beginning to have a parasitical impact on towns and cities rather than a positively-transformative force. It’s depressing, and needn’t be like this.”
“I initially mistake a poster draped on the Winter Gardens “calling all city centre businesses” to use their postal ballot for a poster encouraging the local electorate to vote for the Green Party in the upcoming General Election. This is due to the largest words “Vote Yes” being incorporated into a large green circle. If my initial misreading is anything to go by, I hope many more passers-by do the same, and the poster becomes an accidental booster for Green Party support.”
“I exit a side street, to walk across the tram-lined road, down to the former-Castle Market area. As I gaze more at the city than ‘blindfully’ minding my own business, I am accosted by a beggar asking for loose change. I genuinely don’t have anything until I reach a cash machine further down. But I begin to wonder if a city laden with undisputed desperate denizens disables any attempt to experience it as a place to learn, and forces it to be an urban gauntlet where ‘blindfully’ minding one’s own business becomes a default measure that is hard to divert from.”
“As I walk down towards Sheffield train station I begin to hear one of my least-liked sounds. Is the football-fan-like chanting/jeering the most indicative noise of the experiential-enclosure-affect of towns/cities over the UKWeekend? The potential of passive aggression , and the avoidance and discomfort of places, is largely absent during weekdays. Their search for a jeer-target lands on two young women, who look to have had their weekend’s fun already turned sour, with the men aiming the slur “plastic fantastic” at one of the women due to the dress she is wearing.”
Stories From Forgotten Space builds on 2014 Mapmaking with the aim of taking the most prominent features of the project a little further.
“Lane Head Road, just past the village of Cawthorne, will, for me, forever-be the gateway to the bleak hilltops above our towns, which possesses a symbolic power over me, which I ceaselessly try to explain. The Smith’s The Queen is Dead album is playing on my IPod, an album I heavily associate with my ‘escapist’ ventures up here in my late teenage years – specifically in the wake of the 9/11 terror spectacle. Music that is old to my ears, now only retains the power it once had over me whilst on these such escapades.”
“Blue skies all the way up, but the storm clouds I see coming in over from the west make me abandon the fulfilment of the motivation behind these walks; to go as far as I can up onto the hills as possible, in order to bring on the sensation of ‘climbing out of society’ and escaping my life within it. ”
“After the postponement of the future the hills allowed for, my head’s now filled with dread about our future. I reach the former railway bridge over the M1 motorway. Years and years of/layer upon layer of graffiti covers the bridge’s interior sides. South Yorkshire’s post-industrial legacy somewhat? Then my eyes stumble upon the nature of the graffiti. The chitter-chatterings of the now displayed in these words press-gangs my mind out the solace of my antisocial ramblings upon the tops and into the schizoid endless chatter of the deteriorating social world. Anti-Muslim sentiment galvanised into racially-motivated painting action by the child-grooming disgraces in nearby Rotherham (revealed last year). For me, the text is inseparable from the likely intensification of racially/ethnically-motivated unrest due to the ongoing terrorist attacks and terrorist pursuits in Paris. The need for the clarity that walking promises to give me, has been hijacked by the horror of the world that shows no sign of letting up. On a more localised note, whilst racism and aggressive tribalist assertions are everywhere, they seem more suffocatingly concentrated in my home area, give me intermittent bouts of severe estrangement/alienation from it.”
“Particularly high amount of homelessness around Division Street today, but most striking, and equally disturbing sight, is of a man who comes stumbling past me in shredded clothing, in a manner that doesn’t even look possible without accompanying slices into his flesh. It almost doesn’t look real. I wonder if he has been subjected to an array of threatening gestures from a knife-wielding individual he has been unfortunate enough to stumble into due to his (likely) circumstances. The shredded clothes seem to function as a metaphor for the continual disintegration of the state-support system.”
“The train pulls in at Chapletown. A young adult male gets off and meets two females, one of whom manically drags him away from the platform, and to an over-cautious distance from the train. It’s then that I remember how we were massively delayed in catching the last train out of Leeds last night, due to “a fatality on the line” down here at Chapletown. I then notice there is a vigil ongoing, mainly consisting of young people paying tribute to a young male. As soon as it becomes apparent it was a young male who died, it sadly becomes apparent that it was a suicide. I seem to hold it in my head that there has been a spate of suicide incidents around this area of the railway line over the years. Sheffield is apparently one of the ‘happiest cities in the UK’, but with the Chapletown area on the outskirts, I might be wrong, but I get a feeling that deep unhappiness resides here.”
“Sat with Dave in popular cafe in Huddersfield centre, discussing a shared sense of existential deadlock, located amidst the the fog of the global-political-environment-cultural deadlock. Yet, the very sharing of this discussion, amidst midday urban life, whilst young adults (seemingly still possessing vitality) hurry around us, at least makes it all seem bearable, possibly making it even all seem solvable.”
“Mill-town Yorkshire has an ancient feel to it that just doesn’t add up.”
“The road down from the hilltops gives me a distant longing for something.”
“Rolling news dominates the room facing the train tracks in Huddersfield train station pub. Perpetual foreboding and mute-panic. The news is focussing on the terror attacks on the offices of cartoonist/satirist Charlie Hebdo. The nature of rolling news, it’s enlargement of the symbiotic-extrapolation of both the security-obsessed state and self-destructive terrorism , acts as a potion unleashing panic and abjection in the mind (tightened facial expression/heavy brow – physical reaction). The nature of our conversation becomes uncomfortable. More than my tired psychological defence-mechanisms can withstand right now.”
“On the train to Leeds. Dead-time ‘nowhere to go’, and the hostile demands of the world creeping all over my psychological defence-mechanisms. The hell of it; like a indecisive creature in slow-motion-panic under slowly advancing headlights. Transpennine Express colours; people on mobiles talking about work (a mere shell of success maybe, but right now it’s convincing). Worn out with indecision. Feel my mind slowly beginning to descend – all catching up with me.”
“In Leeds. Walked these city streets for years now – still not found anything; empty searches. All the buildings I stare at being converted into flats for people with career salaries. 31 years old tomorrow, and stuck in permanent limbo.”
“Staring out of window of the Showroom bar, listening to 1995 chart song Charmless Man, by Blur. A song, which on face-value at least has the air of intelligent social commentary. This prompts me to text a friend questioning whether, even back all those 20 years prior the current establishment placing of the band’s members, that Coxon/Albarn, like rich-man-host Alex James, were all predestined conservatives, if not by name, at least by nature.”
“On sloped walkway down to Sheffield train station, a young man is slumped with his head down close to the money-cup he holds out. I think I’m having one of those days where something seems acutely wrong/dystopian in (what appears to be) a general acceptance of the presence of this level of homelessness on our streets. It’s just an incredibly unwarranted aspect of reality that drops from ones mind as soon as they walk away.”
“Young man, with a face quite similar to iconised-as-northerner Peter Kay, sits reading the Metro paper on the train back to Barnsley. Wearing a flatcap, he makes overly cliche facial responses to what he is looking at in the newspaper. I wonder if this stylising of himself on the image of an early 20th century English ‘gent’ is something he has thought about, or whether it is an involuntary slow accumulation of reassuring pastiche-behaviour to make the world seem slightly less insane.”
“Walking past [Barnsley] town centre pubs, at about half ten on a Saturday night, I try to hold a film-star lone-ranger-style posture, but find it hard – exposed as I am, wearing a rucksack and muddy boots in a done-up-only zone. I begin spitting – and I catch myself doing so, realising I do far more than I associate myself with the act. I begin to realise why I do it. I spit often in my home town. I think it may serve as a kind of mobile, circumferential defence of territory; an act of standing one’s ground in a place where one (at least) feels they have to. Of course, there are different ways of doing this within different social environments, but I’ve heard people from other towns say it is a noticeable trait in Barnsley.”
“Despite Seeing the Void where the markets were a few times already, it still catches me by surprise. Since I’ve known the town centre (from very early on in my life) the market has been in that location. Yes, things move on, but there’s such a huge gap/hole here now that it cannot but be glared at by passers-by.”
“End up gazing at the well-thought-out display of chocolate bars and gossip magazines that greets you at counters in the Wilkinson’s Store. I initially contemplate the aged-quality of such a display, still promising the New of sugary stimulation and titillation. It looks so ‘lost world’ somehow. Yet it’s still here. I contemplate whether the reign of physical-item-sugary-consumables would fall if it was without its counterpart of immaterial-sugary-consumables that energise our aspirations to be part of the system…”
“My ‘Mary Celeste’ building, the structure I saw as symbolic of the ‘stuck record’ period we lapsed into fully after the 2008 financial crash (the building was left in a skeletal form since that point) is finally being completed. Supposedly this would mean that if the ‘going through the motions like ghosts’ was the result of the crash then it is over now. But I don’t think so. Like much of the talk about ‘economic growth’ at the moment; the cladding on this construction merely covers up the lack of any genuine advancement; it’s just a mindless drive with no purpose or justification; the dominant agenda still remains defunct.”
” The 50+ year old Beach Boys track I Get Around comes on the radio in the cafe in the Morrisons next to Barnsley centre. But everywhere is currently the cafe lost in time at the ending of the TV series Sapphire and Steel. An entire culture dead, but on endless repeat. Disturbing when you contemplate it.”
“The broken-in-half effect that the low-lying clouds make of the Emley Moor Signal mast prompts Michael to talk of a production he remembered watching in Sheffield, about how civilisation will collapse if we carry on consuming and relying on oil in the way we do. He brings this up because he recalled on how driving home he looked towards Emley Moor, imagining its lights gone out; a cold, grey monolith, surrounded by a dark-aged, barren world below.”
“Arrive back at the strangest services-area again; the Costa Coffee Drive-thru, the Travel Lodge (placed in front of the incinerator to the effect that the massive chimney looks to be part of the hotel), the commuter-pub/eatery, fenced-off building rubble, and a bordered up church. In many ways it embodies the uneven geographies/contradictions of a commuter-based Life-style Consumerism that has never really succeeded in glazing the the world over in it’s ‘CGI-style’ landscaping (the dark hills that loom over us in the background seem an ample metaphor for this unevenness). Yet, as people who don’t play one of the many games centred around conjuring the appearance of success/glamour (which in turn props up the entire social system) aren’t even registered and lapse into social blind-spots, the same can be said of the bordered up church, and fenced-off rubble, as the people coming out of Costa are utterly oblivious to them. Dave walks up to the car to meet me and Mike, telling us that the pub/eatery, ‘The Yorkshire Rose’, advertised ‘decadent eating’ – surely an odd thing to promote? We come to an agreement that decadent refers to a luxurious way of living that belongs to another time; an example of this would be the English upper class living in Victorian period luxury well into the 20th century.”
“Tipped rubbish next to canal-side takes on an almost animalistic form. The rubbish that looks like the wings of a large bird is quite eerie – looking like a spectral guardian of the waterways”.
“A plaque next to the canal footbridge says ‘Becky, 1988-2010, Captain of the school hockey team and rough sleeper, stayed here 2008-2010’. I find the plaque very agreeable, reminding us that those whom we walk past on street corners, rarely even acknowledging their existence, are humans with stories like the rest of us.”
“Looking up the old mill building (Brittannia Mills, 1864), we notice that the fire escape steps were a later edition (anyone caught in a fire here prior to their construction would’ve likely been instantly condemned), noticable due to the strange addition of breeze block, to Yorkshire Stone, used to secure the steps to the building. Contemplating whether breeze block has now been used in construction for a century, we contemplate our collective distorted perceptions of history, of what’s new and what’s old. In these ‘stuck-record’ times, concrete and breeze block seems perpetually near-past, whilst the linear teaching of History makes us believe that everything that is similar must’ve happened at the exact same point. As if all slum-clearance happened in one decade. This leads us to talk about the utopianist 1930’s Quarry Hill construction in Leeds. Now demolished, but once a forward-looking project, you tend to think of the 1930’s still in terms of Victorian architecture/ideas.”
As We Walk into Milnsbridge I look at the old old buildings/landscape. Yet with new cars and broadband technologies penetrating it, Something doesn’t feel right. It feels that if one had the ability to bring a 1860’s resident of this area into its present-day reality, that they’d be massively disappointed in a way, asking “what happened to the future?” As much as I don’t wish to see the demolition of anything that certainly still habitable and pleasant, so to speak, when you glare at the present world it does often feel like for many things the future got stuck, whilst other bits of the future carried on. All in all Dystopias never used to look so pedestrian!”
“Immense destabilisation of here and now (a.k.a normality) brought on by conversation that veers into the near-future of global power-politics, as we pass through a large industrial estate and over inner ring-road arteries. Michael talks of the strangeness of how “it’s all gone quiet” with the West’s stand off with Russia, coupled with the strange recent drop in oil prices; personally, I think of how this issue has “all gone quiet” in my head, unquestionably down to the reality-management affect the omnipresent media outlets have.”
“Horbury has a real ‘lost world’ feel to it. You could say it was ripe for hauntology, having the feel and look of a place (to a passer by) of a place laden with the shells of past happenings.”
“A tranquil point of communicating, each nursing a pint, in the Henry Boons pub in Wakefield, 5PM. I’ve always found there to be something strange about this time of day, roughly articulated by the Beatles lyrics “but oh, that magic feeling [but] nowhere to go”, as this tea-time feeling lapses into the evening’s depressive-pleasure-seeking (as I know it likely will now I’ve had one pint). Yet at this moment, things feel together, connected, our conversation makes sense, and resonates off the walls of this half-empty pub.”
“Sat in Wharf Chambers, a not-for-profit-cooperative pub. I leaf through an AA Illustrative Guide To Great Britain. Like many things seen on today’s travelling, it looks quite new. Yet the photographs of towns suggest another era, another world. A photograph of nearby Sheffield a now-lost social housing project called ‘Woodside’. It turns out this book was published in 1979, right on the eve of the end of the social democratic project period, just before such estates became continuously less and less desirable.”
This is the 9th and the final post of 2014 in a series that I still call psychogeographical maps (or cognitive mapping). Quoting certain sections and using a selection of photographs to widen the project, which at its core still has the intention to be a Cognitive Mapping of Now – aiming to be useful for locating the wider socio-political mood, and the psychological impacts of it. This project has been ongoing since 2013 and has largely been an artistic response to Frederic Jameson’s 1990 essay, and call to action, Cognitive Mapping, which is posited as a means of class consciousness in our contemporary social landscape. Arguing that the “mental map of a city [I’d say the wider human-made landscape] can be extrapolated to that of the social and global totality [one that we] we carry around in our heads in various garbled forms”. Also, due to often residing in places deemed culturally ‘insignificant’ I feel that my work is justified by the words of social Geographer Doreen Massey in that “…spatially, the local place is utterly implicated in the production of the global and the globalisation that we so often find ourselves wanting to confront”. Although some of these maps aren’t made in places I live in, whilst traveling through them I am implicated and involved in that locality and the myriad of circumstances and incidents that constitute it.
The project has also allowed me to bring my love of maps into my art.
The 1st post can be found here.
A collection of the 2014 maps can be found here.
16 December 2014
“Always surprises me when I suddenly come across steep inclines in London. Like rivers (excluding the Thames), they are features that just don’t seem ‘natural’ in London as it stands. The place is such a concrete+metallic machine in its own right, that you don’t expect rivers and hills to start forming until you’re beyond the M25.”
“A fashion store on Kingsland Road, that looks [to be] webbed into some local scene. A single trainer shoe is on a plinth in the window. An area that presents itself as ‘against the grain’ [is] evidently as slavishly obedient to the consumerist reality, as anywhere else that is deemed less ‘edgy’.”
22 December 2014
“An unavoidable sight amidst the emotional chaos of the Xmas/New Year period: people, half drunk, coming very near to fist fighting, in Peel Square [Barnsley]. A young man VS the rest of the group, [he then] drunkenly storms up Peel Street, before leaning, with his head held low, against the window of the Iceland store. Next time I look he’s disappeared again.”
“Lots of teenagers stand amidst the now-empty market stalls, almost in complete darkness (I’m sure the streets lights are being dimmed or being switched off completely) [in Peel Square]. They look like they’re waiting for something to happen. But isn’t this more likely to be [the usual] sign of the state of [existential] boredom?”
“Despite it being the most depressing of signs of our (collective) inability to look after the environment (and the moronic nature of the act), there is something visually appealing about about sites of fly-tipping. After all, the entire UK landscape is shape humans have made it into – this just adds another historical layer”.
“Make the mistake of trying to take a shortcut through the woods at the bottom of Litherop Lane, in order to get to path leading to Bretton Park. I realise something isn’t quite right when all the footpaths begin to fold back in on one another, almost like a race track course. A man stands looking at me. I [then] realise that the rumours that this is site where people meet up for outdoor sex are well founded. As I turn and head in the other direction from the man and notice the floor is littered with the left-overs of things used for sexual intercourse, I notice another man. As I find a path heading out of the woods in the right direction, I notice that he has been staring at me for a long period of time. It initially intimidates me, as it does when a stranger is staring at you in a bleak winter woodland, but afterwards I see it in a tragic light. Not that I am one for tradition, but to be stood there in a cold, muddy wood on Christmas eve, desperately waiting for sex, is a sign of the impoverishment of life’s larger wealth. These people are [more than anything] victims, addicts to a nihilist landscape. prisoners to the pleasure-pursuit.”
“All the talk: that something big/a seismic shift from the current state of affairs is bound to happen soon, takes on an ominous feel within this eerie-looking early evening, which doesn’t settle easy with the [East Leeds] landscape through which we are witnessing it.”
“In the Dark Arches, walking above the river [which is at its] winter torrent levels. something awe-inspiring, specifically due to how if you were to fall in you wouldn’t stand a chance. These rivers are almost the hidden powerhouse, both past and present, of cities. I say ‘hidden’ because the common image of the river in the contemporary city landscape is as an appendage for pleasure for urban professionals – as if the river itself had stopped flowing in the ‘post industrial times’.”
“I flare up inside at gawping [at me] passengers going around junction 38 [of the M1]. I realise that my year has been stained by bubbling anger. A deep frustrations with things that I cannot deny, but worry what will become of it as time moves on. Something must change. And maybe I’m not the only one harbouring this deep frustration with things?”
“A sharp turn in the road at the top of Woolley Edge serves as an analogy for a desperate need to change course in life – after a dead-end-style unenjoyable binge-drinking night in Barnsley, and my 31st on the horizon. But,as with every year, the question still remains “but to where?”.”
This is the 8th post in a series that I still call psychogeographical maps (or cognitive mapping). Quoting certain sections and using a selection of photographs to widen the project, which at its core still has the intention to be a Cognitive Mapping of Now – aiming to be useful for locating the current socio-political mood, and the psychological impacts of it.
The 1st post can be found here.
A collection of the 2014 maps can be found here.
UK Weekend 15/16 November 2014
“Chilly, early evening, people gathered [for] slideshow projected onto building on Norfolk Street [Sheffield]. A homeless man, who I saw [asking for spare change] further down towards the station, shouts “yeah, nice pictures and nice music – that’s JUST what we need!” in a sarcastic tone as he walks past. [Even though my own art is featured in the projection] I can’t help thinking “he’s got a point.”
“Enterprise Zone/small industrial park next to junction . Half-finished. Huge mound of excavated soil, overground and sinister-looking in the foggy night. A car pulls up, slowly, next to me, on this dead-end road. Can’t help feeling intimidated due to sinister connotations. However, I noticed they’ve pulled up to eat a chicken-based takeaway. Weekend salt and sugar fixes.”
“Feel slightly embarrassed (as if the all-seeing-social-media-eye is uploading my thoughts instantaneously) as I take a photograph of the word ‘Barnsley’ inscribed into the tombstone-like building, [that lists] the names of destinations outside Euston/London. If anything, I wish[ed] to express how it appears to have been built/engraved in an age when London respected the rest of the country, rather than dismissing if [maybe].”
“[At New Cross Gate Station] Talking at maniacal speed. Hyper-stimulated after being at a lecture where I went to study [once], in an environment I was in previously. It’s not a negative feeling, it’s a neurophysical rush. Yet within this state I become all-too-familiar with the reasons as to why I broke down when I tried to do my course here: the inability to have a ‘cut off point’ always leads to a crash. It’s a fact I can’t always come to terms with, and I know I’ll be depressed [later on] once I arrive on the ‘skeletal’ rail network of the north.”
“[Row] of late 1990’s-early 2000’s-built houses, in the ‘deep Midlands’. When I think of the ‘noughties’, the Blair/Brown years, music by The Streets, the tail-end of the ‘binge-drinking era’, noughties ‘britpop’ [and the Iraq war as background noise], there is also an ideal-fitting location for it all, an era-fitting place. This is place is the Midlands of my mind. The North? No (still [older] terraces in my mind) London? No, [I think London is Now]. The Midlands. Perhaps it’s because the view from the train, with the exception of Leicester, seems to look out onto a landscape of [the last mass construction of – private – houses, in the boom years of New Labour]. The Midlands looks of younger housing stock. Perhaps it became the ‘filler’ for the necessary commutes in Thatcherite Britain[?].”
“Just as I’m about to leave the delayed train (at 12:30 am) at Darton, I notice the last remaining passenger, a young man, scrolling his Iphone screen. The moving images on the screen are clearly from sex-room, sex webcam sites. Perhaps the delayed train, alongside its emptiness, have made him ambivalent over privacy. Also, perhaps the anti-stimulating landscape of skeletal transport and life infrastructure of after-dark Northern towns have intensified his dependency on the endless ‘sugary’ stimulation that cyberspace makes always available for the inevitable depressive-pleasure-seeking occupiers of social space-made shit, up here. The fact that this just increases misogyny in real physical space is just the tip of the iceberg.”
“[Sheffield Station] Water drips from Northern Rail Carriage, as everyone waits in haste for the doors to open. Two young men arrive in [sodden sports clothes]. [You can tell with some people that they’ve had a hard upbringing from their face-shape, their posture, and even their mannerisms]. They are drenched– only the poor get drenched in a rainy city. You never see the poor with umbrellas.”
“Peel Street often feels like the ‘Barnsley Badlands’. What I mean by this is that it feels like one of those locations where the fallout from welfare-eroding neoliberal economics [and the ideology it generates] is most acutely sensed. A one-time boulevard now in social disrepair – it almost feels more fitting to downtown America.”
“The Only light given whilst walking alongside a road, lacking street lights, is from cars. yet this is what makes it so unpleasurable. Total darkness to total brightness makes me think about the [gaping] inconsistencies of modernisation.”
“Brightly-lit room, seen through bus window. A man sits alone (almost with a melancholic Edward Hopper solitude) staring at his electricity-guzzling aquisitions (giant fish tank and novelty lighting systems). It’s quite a sad scene.”
This is the 7th post in a series that I still call psychogeographical maps (or cognitive mapping). Quoting certain sections and using a selection of photographs to widen the project, which at its core still has the intention to be a Cognitive Mapping of Now – aiming to be useful for locating the current socio-political mood, and the psychological impacts of it.
The 1st post can be found here.
The 2nd here
The 3rd here
The 4th here
The 5th here
The 6th here
A collection of the 2014 maps can be found here.
7 Nov 2014
“The Mary Celeste structure [overlooking Barnsley’s inner ring road] is darkened by the downpour. And in turn it seems to be a metaphor for the early dark turn of the conversational subject matter, once I reassert the uneasy truth that this structure has been in this state for over 6 years – yet it is a largely ignored fact. It provokes an intensification in our wrangling conversation over ‘just what the hell is going on?’ “.
” Hemmed in’ plantation woodlands [Flouch roundabout] mark the roadway to the moors. Two bleak landscapes that compliment each other. Both man-made, so to speak., but both important (I believe) to (initially) the Northern Industrial psyche, and (currently) the always-on, hyper-connected psyche. [They act] as a physical reflection of the [empty feeling this speed causes [in us].”
“In a charity shop [in Congleton]. The playing of 50-year-old pop songs from the “good times” of popular culture induces in me a nauseating ‘dispiration’ for our ‘stuck record’ present.”
“In the Wetherspoons on West Street [Sheffield]. In the toilets two homeless males clean themselves up and stock up on toilet paper.This is [something I’ve never seen in this city before], highlighting how critical the homeless situation in the city has become.”
“[Nottingham city centre]. Walking past recruitment centre. People of all ages sat facing computer screens, and people stood outside [the centre] waiting at the bus stop. I feel for them; what an incredibly rigged game it is when you’re at the bottom [and you’re trying to get a break]. I get the lyrics to [Pulp’s] Common People running through my thoughts: “yeah and the chip stains and grease will come out in the bath”, because there’s no way of disguising your poverty, it really does cling to you. Everyone can see it, no matter how you try to hide it. Look over [the road] at massive concrete hotel. Now highly unfashionable. Built in a different era; with a different social reality.”
“Find myself incredibly hungry, with well over 2 hours until I get the train back. [My mind starts running down old and unhelpful psychological warrens, and when it’s irrational thoughts VS illogical thoughts – one has to win over]. I lie to myself, convincing myself that the meandering that follows is for my ‘projects’. The hidden motive being the ‘eating disordered’ mental[ity] that returns when I’m low, lonely, tired and in an urban centre surrounded by (seemingly) infinitesimal choices. My thoughts pace back and forth between getting ‘food involving a drink’ in a pub, but I relapse [ever-so-slightly] into the late teenage me, who spent hours in supermarkets in a decision-making paralysis, due to all the choices on offer. the anorexic control mechanisms still try to get out of their cage from time to time; [the urge to have it back at the reigns is still very seductive].”
“Large open-cast mining area; [this area is still] generally industrial-looking. A landscape you could mistakenly think was of the past, coming from Yorkshire. Sometimes feels as if Yorkshire has been made into one tourist attraction, as in covering up the truth (as all tourism does); greened over spoil heaps, and severe poverty hidden by lush ravines in Sheffield. As if Derbyshire’s ‘secondary’ position in contrast to Yorkshire’s (increasingly annoying) self-indentit[ification] has kept it more real.”
“Unused grassland/wasteland area between railway track and disused viaduct [just outside Leeds Centre]. About 10-15 police officers walk together [through the grass] in a line, looking for evidence. A serious crime has obviously been committed here, in [an] area that will no doubt be swept under the glitter of ‘regeneration’ once the south Entrance to Leeds [railway] station is [completed]. But, as it stands, it looks like a ‘ideal crime scene location’ – as if this wasn’t real at all, but actually film set for the crime drama A Touch of Frost, which was actually filmed in this area.”
“As I head for the exit at Darton station I noticed stickers all around where the train doors are: English Defence League and Britain First stickers vowing to ‘protect us’ from ‘muslim pedophiles’. A sickly and medievalstyle to the stickers, and far right party logos. [It] makes my heart sink: “this can only get worse”, it feels to me. ‘The diseased isle’ to [paraphrase] Carl Neville. I wish I knew a solution; as far as I see much anti-fascist protesting isn’t quelling such views. And it’s so bad around here – alienating me from “my own turf”, so-to-speak. Only yesterday I saw a poster on a road sign near Cawthorne saying “Halal Fox”. Stupid/idiotic coupling of presumed ‘lefty’ things, but also dangerously striking subconscious chords – I’m sure.”
This is the 6th post in a series that I still call psychogeographical maps (or cognitive mapping). Quoting certain sections and using a selection of photographs to widen the project, which at its core still has the intention to be a Cognitive Mapping of Now – aiming to be useful for locating the current socio-political mood, and the psychological impacts of it.
The 1st post can be found here.
The 2nd here
The 3rd here
The 4th here
The 5th here
A collection of the 2014 maps can be found here.
29 October 2014
“Perhaps due to lack of significant change in my [cassette] walkman-cum-CD-walkman-cum-mp3 player-cum Ipod, it still often occurs that music specific to certain haunts replays itself when I return to the haunts. Looking towards the landscape break [between] the rolling hills of Barnsley and the barren-Pennine hills, I remember how this landscape break functioned as an analogy for a break off occurring in my life, when I frequented this route, often by pushbike, aged 18. The song evoking this powerful feeling of [seemingly uncalled-for] loss is ‘Politik’ by Coldplay (one of the only tracks I hold dear by a band I largely associate as the main audio backdrop to [the] socially-cleansed ‘Bland Britain’ [that the 2000’s became].) Looking up at the green hills towards the (seemingly) always broody enclosure of Penistone, the song gives me a gut-wrenching feeling that I feel powerless to finally put to bed now. It is the break off of one reality to the general reality I occupy now. I see my 18 year old self with a sense of innocence, not really understanding where exactly he was leading his thoughts to the rest of this young adulthood.”
“Looking over to Burngreave’s cluster of row-rise flats that cover the sharp, hilly, incline. Remember being surprised to find out that there was once a large estate [Woodside], including tower blocks, just over the other side of this small hill, but is now long-gone. Although the flats may have fallen into decline, as a South Yorkshire resident I get a sense of deep injustice over the de-metropolising and de-futurising of Sheffield, inflicted on it from Thatcher onwards.”
“Young man, clearly homeless, sits outside the Division Street Sainsbury’s [store], on an evening where the temperature has noticeably dropped. Perhaps because I’m a little more beaten by things today, I haven’t got my ‘rat-race’ [need-to-get-things-done] mentality’ on, I feel genuine empathy for him – something I think we [generally] do our utmost to avoid [doing]. But I can’t avoid [doing so] because he has a relatively similar physical appearance to me, which makes the prospect of homelessness far more imaginable.”
30 October 2014
“Hill feels harder to climb today. Possibly due to the many headlights from cars, continuously blinding me and making it feel like a sensory bombardment. Look back over the M1 motorway – just a constant flow of lights, like little digits moving up to make one big picture. This predicament is not freedom .”
“Young [woman] stands in the middle of the generally depopulated (post 6pm) town centre with a charity bucket – the name of which I am unsure. I hear a male voice speaking to her, as a walk past [and onwards], in a strong working class London accent, saying “your security is also my priority, darling”. Something just doesn’t look right about it [all]. It seems like heresy to suggest that a charity [may be] dodgy, but it certainly strikes me as being this way. After all, surely in an age where everybody [is having to] scramble for every last penny. surely someone’s going to try it?”
“Initially strange sight as we pass the Vets for Pets [business] on Wilthorpe Road. One of those times when what you think is a group of people playing about, turns out to be a couple of teenage males taunting a lone individual. This individual looks in a state, to say the least; wrecked by life, to be appropriate. Hooded and hunched, he swings his shopping bags in a furious yet drunken manner at these two teenage males, who are clearly taking delight in mocking this ‘weaker’ subject. It’s ‘lols’ all round for them. This incident brings us onto the awfulness of bullying in general. It also brings us onto the issue of Jeremy Clarkson, a popular figure who applauds [the] ridicule of those [he deems] ‘weaker’ than him.”
“Deep black heaps of coal lay in large car-park at The Old Post Office pub (next to motorway junction). The coal is being loaded onto large lorries. I think about how in our so-called ‘post-industrial’ times, we easily forget [due to its disappearance – at least in raw form – from our immediate horizons] that such [resources] still fuel the world we inhabit.”
“Walking under viaduct. orange bleaching by night lights. Craving for permanent urban meandering, free of hunger, expectation, responsibility …tomorrow morning.”
” Windy lane next to ‘traditional’ Yorkshire scenes. I know that part of the reason I walk so fast is to, at least momentarily, con myself over my growing sense of immobility.”
“After miles of walking through clearly definable landscape I am finally upon an interspace container – a city to city train. Feel at ease, don’t even care if I look worn and ragged to the commuters that surround. I’ve exhausted the need for worry, care – just a human drone, in awe of the bright lights in the train as I stare up. And why shouldn’t I be? Sometimes I [crave] to be in these interspaces.”
“As soon as I get into the city I notice individuals carrying rucksacks, who [certainly look to be] ‘of no fixed-abode’. You can’t hide it [no matter how hard you try]. [because] the smartly-dressed office workers who pass them by are visibly not condemned to where those clothes all the time. [Such a predicament clings to you].”
“Walking down Bond Street. Odd layout. Hoardings, barring entrance to something, and bakeries and a [small] bus station that look ill-placed now that the 9-5 stage of Leeds day is over. Something feels missing in a much wider sense though; a real sense of an absence of something.”
This is the 5th post in a series that I still call psychogeographical maps (or cognitive mapping). Quoting certain sections and using a selection of photographs to widen the project, which at its core still has the intention to be a Cognitive Mapping of Now – aiming to be useful for locating the current socio-political mood, and the psychological impacts of it.
The 1st post can be found here.
The 2nd here
The 3rd here
The 4th here
A collection of the 2014 maps can be found here.
3 October 2014
London St Pancras to Westferry on foot, DLR to Greenwich, Bus to Deptford, on foot to New Cross Gate, Train/tube to Willesden Green.
Maps got destroyed. Little clear memory that remains.
“Find my mood caught out by the city this time around. Not tall enough today to stand up to city of tall asks. Strangely comforted by Greenwich. Always destined to head to once-to-be-familiar pubs in Deptford/New Cross. Hauntological hysteria intensified by 1990’s dance music. Lost in an intoxicated mood. Listen to slowed-down dance track in New Cross Sainsbury’s – it doesn’t feel real, I feel like the ghost this time. Too far gone.”
Willesden Green to Southbank on foot, then on to London Bridge. Tube to Moorgate. On foot to St Pancras via Barbican.
“Come to realise why I could have never lived here. All thought liquidated by city. Round in circles in City zone. No reason to communicate anymore. A Meloncholic walking drone – no desire to be anything else. Just keep Walking, Walking, Walking.”
“Arriving in Calder Grove, The Red Kite car park. The Red kite is pure simulcra, before it is anything [else]. Built to look like an ‘Olde Worlde’ pub. Even though it is no more than 12 years old, the self-advertised ‘vintage’ look fooled a friend into thinking it was much older. Yet it isn’t even a locally-orientated simulation [of an old building]. These pubs (like the one at the Dodworth junction) evoke a style of building that historically belonged [only in] South and Eastern England [not Northern England].”
“[Driving from the east into Leeds] The landscape changes abruptly from the early 20th century suburbia dream to the mid-20th century social housing reality. The dark red brick houses, typical of Northern England, tower-blocks appearing as we get closer to the centre. Yet [this] tower-block skyline is almost hidden from view [from within] the seemingly unbroken consumer/business-man landscape pf the centre. In many ways such [a] blotting of the central landscape brings to mind the ‘cleansing out’ of undesirable features in the 18th century designing of country estates”.
“Something strangely reassuring about the [reasonably[ tightly-packed sprawl of Manchester proper. A would-be [more desirable] capital city? Quintessential red brick [housing] blocks, overlooked by supermodern complexes – like a safe metropolis compound? As if I could momentarily imagine this (that almost feels like a parallel world to Yorkshire over the Pennines) is free of the anxieties dealt by neoliberalism. Imaginary, yes. The reassuring feeling can only be felt in urban spaces I don’t spend much time in. I wish to be a citizen, a true city person; not a peasant or consumer (which, in reality, I am a mix of).”
“As the taxi approaches the chain pub complex at the roundabout (Redbrook/Barugh Green) the taxi driver says he’ll be voting UKIP at the next general election. I think we got to this point of topic due to talking about trying to survive on low-pay. He [tells me] UKIP have announced they [would] bring in an £8 per hour minimum wage. I find it hard to imagine how a party of right wing (largely well-off) reactionaries would ever truly action such a policy. yet, harder still is trying to explain to people how [I believe] UKIP aren’t really in their interest. Yet they’ve [UKIP] seeped into many peoples’ fears and desires. I exit the day with a sense of foreboding for the near future, feeling there’s very little I can do to alter this path”.
This is the second post in a series what I still call psychogeographical maps (or cognitive mapping). Quoting certain sections and using a selection of photographs to widen the project, which at its core still has the intention to be a Cognitive Mapping of Now – aiming to be useful for locating the current socio-political mood, and the psychological impacts of it. (The first post can be found here. A collection of the 2014 maps can be found here).
19 August 2014
“The smell of ‘Americanness’ emanating from Wakefield’s expansive retail park, from a very doughnutty smell.Yet [I am] at lest 200 yards away at the moment. I say ‘Americanness’ because it’s a distinctive smell from childhood, largely due to it’s lack of presence in it, except when I was with other [children’s’] parents. I think it is fair to say my dad was highly critical of large swathes of American culture – mainly that which forms around the likes of Disney and Macdonalds. Thus we rarely indulged in them, and more often had fish and chip takeaways.
“The trains are far more advanced than the clunky ones [the commuters of] lower-West and South Yorkshire get. It certainly does feel commuters from some areas are treat as a higher class of citizens than commuters from other areas. There is certainly an unacknowledged hierarchy and snobbery relating to commuter transport in this country.”
20 August 2014
“Low-seating on Northern Rail means that I can’t help but see what everyone is doing/reading on the train. [A] Girl/young woman sits in front of me. She looks like a student [do to student badge hung around her neck]. I notice that the book she is reading is called ‘Overcoming Anorexia’ [and] it is now clear to me why. I feel really sorry for her, she’s obviously so ashamed of it, as she has covered up the book cover with white paper. It also deeply saddens me, coming home from Manchester, slightly more sentimental than usual due to alcohol intake. Manchester will always be [a place] connected with my own anorexic spell, due to having to leave [a course I was studying in] the city due to it. As she reads a chapter on the damages it does to relationships, I am reminded how I never truly overcame it, I just channeled the obsessive behaviour into other things. But it’s still there, only skin-deep. The young woman probably has parents going prematurely white-haired due to this thing that has inflicted their daughter in this violent world”.
27 August 2014
“Bus stop outside district hospital. [I always feel there is] a lot of really unwell-looking people within our borough. Across the road are posters for last Monday’s Jarrow-inspired march to save the NHS (from privatisation). In some ways it is one of the [only] visible signs of class politics within a town of this size”.
2 September 2014
“Sat in cafe [close] to the cathedral. Two males sit in front of me. [They are] loud, and aggressive in tone – especially the one who’s back is facing me. After being audibly subjected to it, it is apparent that they are capitalist gangsters – no doubt about it. Discussing dark deals. The man doing most talking is of Asian ethnicity, but with strong West Yorkshire accent; the other is an obese white man, with terrible skin on his face. I feel offended by the money amounts they are talking about, and intimidated by the main-speaking-man’s warnings to the other man that he will get himself killed if he isn’t careful, and that he himself is prepared to kill for business”.
4 September 2014
“On Trans-Pennine train, I sit facing a young man of near-Asian ethnicity – wearing sunglasses and white earphones. Despite his ‘westernisation’ and my general blaming of Western forces for the rise in extreme militancy in the [Islamic] group ISIS, I can’t avoid the irrational fear brewed in everyone’s mind by the thought-masher that is the mainstream media. “What if he cut my head off on the train?” my reptilian brain-part asked my other brain-part. I felt so bad for having these thoughts. He got off at Huddersfield. I just fear that the [mainstream] media’s making everyone’s minds harbour such thoughts – it can only make the world a nastier place if so”.
“Want to get out of tourist area on the docklands as soon as I find myself there. Just have no interest in the gimmickry of it. Union Jacks and Beatles’ memorabilia; a mixture of things associated with Britain/Liverpool re-appropriated into the conservatism of making everything into a tourist spot. Isn’t it odd how many sites of former industrial/political strife have since been ‘re-developed’ into meccas from tourism and consumerism?”
“I realise we have taken a different rail route back into Manchester, due to unfamiliar look of route. Settlements begin unexpectedly quick [again, after exiting Liverpool]. Due to this, I almost fool myself into thinking that maybe there’s an urban sprawl/city between the Manchester/Liverpool sprawls that I’ve somehow managed to erase from my memory”.
I’ve begun including a few photographs within my (what I still reluctantly call -as I’ve not found a better word for them yet) psychogeographical maps.
13th May 2012
“Street Art-clad entrance into Victorian storm tunnels, before they descend under central Leeds. Perhaps the element of urban decay is what prompts us to talk about the rise of capital flight from urban areas in the future, alongside the rise of ‘disaster capitalism.”
17th June 2014
“Waiting to cross the road and notice man stumbling down Huddersfield Road. He looks severely distressed. Can’t tell if it’s emotional, pyshical or both. He looks extremely impoverished, possible addiction problems. He stumbles onto road, rush hour traffic has to stop, and he stumbles onto the next road. I turn around dreading I’m going to see him run over. It’s as if he’s lost the will to care. Can’t help feeling that I’m seeing many individual tragedies of neoliberalism’s race to the bottom.”
24 June 2014
“Passing homeless person on Division Street. Dave says there was a program on TV recently confirming what I have thought: that [cases of] homelessness has exploded in Sheffield. I never used to notice it 4 years ago. Now it feels like a city close to a social time-bomb.
30 June 2014
“Large juxtaposition between aspirational, digitally-utopianised imagery, whilst old men sit and watch the demolition [going on] beyond the imagery. Is there really enough people in this area [who can afford to shop at extortionate upmarket shops] to justify this total gentrification of Leeds?”
8 July 2014
“Trees growing from disused railway line momentarily give me impression of a city abandoned by humans, and lush plant life taking over”
12 July 2014
Pro-Scottish independence sticker of gas/electric meter (?) at bottom of Victoria Road. It says ‘End London Rule!’ My first thought it “we’re all [as in the rest of England] with you on that!” I’ve noticed a lot of pro-Scottish Independence stickers posted around this end [north] of Barnsley – a Scottish/Yorkshire link trying to be harnessed maybe?”
15 July 2014
“Aspirational poster of good-looking couple pillow-fighting next to private apartments. I always find this advert offensive, even as its believability fades as it gets bleached by the sun.”
19 July 2014
“Can’t ignore rolling news bulletins flying past on big screen in Wetherspoons. It’s all about responses from nations regarding the Malaysian passenger plane being brought down by a missile in Eastern Ukraine. It starts to make me feel unwell – the unending possibilities of consequences that can crush your well-being.”
1 August 2014
“6 Chimneys Wetherspoons, Wakefield. The only place I found to sit and have a coffee. Sit across from young man, wearing vest, on his laptop. [See him] trawling his Facebook and Hotmail accounts, no doubt feeling the need to keep up to date with things and search for opportunities. It is something an increasing number of us are familiar with, including myself; the low-paid, precarious, or unemployment mass all trying to better their predicament through the network – an endless, relentless searching and (virtual)door-knocking.”
5 August 2014
“Listening to the Louder Than Bombs compilation, The Smiths, in roads/landscapes akin to the ones I used to walk/cycle through whilst I was in my early adulthood. It reminds me of how, despite it being a difficult time, I still had hope for life/the future.”
11 August 2014
“Head to Baby Jupiter, a pub [I frequented] often in the early recession days. Near-past friendship groups. There’s a little glass jar on the bar; “help us from going bust”. This is the most ‘Retromania’ bar I can ever imagine. Yet, right now it feels like a comfort blanket, immune from time”
12 August 2014
“The long urban walk begins to [blend together] with my long urban walks in South East London. I think about how Manchester is portrayed as ‘Coronation Street’, but is experientially very akin to gritty South London.”
16 August 2014
“Suddenly notice cars, and realise the seeming ‘place of safety’ is within grasp. Forests, especially dark, near impassable ones, warp [your] sense of time and distance. My wrong turn [within] it has felt like an hour, when in reality it’s only be 25 minutes. I have sweat dripping from my forehead.”
17 August 2014
“Two very tall policemen surround a poor-looking, possibly malnourished teenage male, outside [the train] station. Whatever he’s done, he now looks noticeably scared. A nearby person says “haven’t they got anything better to do than to pick on a boy?”
18 August 2014
“Barnsley library now literally one big heap of rubble. What a waste. It almost looks like a dark monolithic construction. From here [viewed on Shambles street] it is placed right in front of the town hall – it almost looks like an attempt to rebuild Barnsley’s past landscape of spoil heaps.”
Due to recent thoughts I felt the need to both reference and praise the artist/documentary-maker Patrick Keiller’s 1994 film London; a filmed about a journey through London, which forms a beautiful protest and desire for Justice in a time of loss of belief in a future
Although it should be a suggested alternative watch to Mind The Gap: London vs The Rest, the ‘documentary I criticised on here a week back, I am referring to it here largely due to recent concerns I have been sharing with friends that the Tories may somehow be reelected. This current government [the coalition by name, an unelected Tory coup by nature) thrive off apathy, our sense that there’s nothing we can do.The more apathetic we become, the more powerful they. They are parasites of pessimism.
I reject the idea that I am a pessimist: I am incensed with the injustice in the world/forced to look at what is happening to the world because I cannot stop caring. Pessimism is when you don’t care any more. I may focus on the what’s going wrong, rather than how things could be better, but this isn’t because I don’t care or desire for things to be better. My heart often feels like it is slowly turning to stone, but yet there still remains a utopianism within me.
Of those I’ve been speaking to we know our society well enough to understand why it may support something that can only maintain/enhance the silent miseries and frustrations; a resignation to all outside our family units and a bizarre fearful distrust in anything that could promise to make life better for us. Yet it remains baffling and relatively impossible to articulate why this happens. Yet this film uses a journey through London to almost map out a diagnosis of the illness stunting society. The real-felt consequences of the re-election of the Conservatives is well illustrated by the worried anticipations of the narrator and Robinson (whose life the art-documentary is based around) on the days surrounding the 1992 Tory reelection. Furthermore, I feel this description that I have used below must be familiar to most of us in contemporary Britain, if we are honest with ourselves, regardless of how 2014 compares to 1992.
[pre-election] “I expected the [Tory] government would be narrowly defeated, but Robinson did not trust the opinion polls, which were in any case showing a last minute drift away from Labour…[post election]. It seemed there was no longer anything a Conservative government could do to vote it out of office. …[T]he middle class in England had continued to vote Conservative because in their miserable hearts they still believed it was in there interest to do so.”
[The expected consequences] “His [Robinson’s] flat would continue to deteriorate, and his rent increase; he would be intimidated by vandalism and petty crime; the bus service would get worse; there would be more traffic and noise pollution, and an increased risk in getting knocked down crossing the road; there would be more drunks, pissing in the street when he looked out of the window, and more children taking drugs on the stairs as he came home at night; his job we be at risk, and subjected to interference; his income would decrease; he would drink more, and less well; he would be ill more often; HE WOULD DIE SOONER” (London, Patrick Keiller, 1994)
I’m no defender of New Labour (I hate the small-minded arguments that try to pit the two parties together as being the full scope of possibilities of how our society could function), but I have definitely noticed many changes since 2010 (since the Tories got back into power), in the news, in the street, in my friends’ lives, in my life, that chime with the description above. The increase in cars on the road – as if somehow the increased psychological pressure of a more harsh, unforgiving, yet deliberately imposed reality onto people, has pushed us into using the form of transport most naturally at home with self-centredness – a pessimism reinforcing itself; as we no longer even dare contemplate the environmental consequences of this anymore. I am always expecting violence, self-inflicted and aimed at others; the nearby city of Sheffield seems to have had an increase of both homeless individuals; in my home town Barnsley, individuals evidentially being crushed by this imposed reality, due to the often-seen inability for rage to be controlled, whether it is aimed at others, or at themselves. I sometimes wonder whether we are a society of taught masochists wanting pain from the public school boy sadist-rulers. But there again, anybody who hasn’t become the ideal-functioning man-capital, must be wondering how much more they can hide from, and whether they will be in-front of the crusher sometime soon. How much can a “miserable heart” take, before it retaliates?
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