Tag Archive | trains

2014 mapmaking (part 7)

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].”


139 140 1411427 November 2014

“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.”

143 144 145 14611 November 2014

“[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].”

147 148 149 150 15111 November 2014

“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.”

152 153 15415512 November 2014

“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.”

156 157158 159 160


Recent Mapmaking (2014 so far) part 2

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.

42. 19.08.2014

43. P1010297

43. P1010298

“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.”

44. 19.08.2014 (2)

45. P1010300

46. P1010301

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”.

47. 20.08.2014 (2)



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”.

51. 27.08.2014 (2)



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”.

54. 02.09.20142



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”.

57. 04.09.2014

58 59


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?”

61. 04.09.20141



“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”.

64. 04.09.20141

Recent mapmaking. (2014 so far, through maps)

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.”

6. Leeds May

6. may 13

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.”

7. map 17 june

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.

9. 24 June

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?”

11. map 30 june1                                 12. june 30 (3)        13. june 30

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”

15. map 8 july16. 8 July

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?”

17. map 12 july1

                             19. P1010156       18. july 12

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.”

20. map 15 july

21. 15 July

22. 15 July (2)

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.”

24. 19 july

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.”

25. 01.08.2014

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.”

27. map  5 August

28. 5 August

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”

30. map 11  August

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.”

33. map 12  August35 36   37

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.”

39. 16.08.2014 (3)

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?”

39. 17.08.2014 (2)

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.”

40. 18.08.201441. 18.08.2014

Paying to piss

“What the hell’s happened to Sheffield train station?!” was what I was thinking as I got off the train, on a Wednesday afternoon. A sudden violent interruption of being greeted with red ‘NO ENTRY’ signs (the stairway to the platforms has been split into two sections, making everything feel a little uncomfortablly formal as was walking down in single file). Then, turning to head to the toilets, I found that I was halted by barriers asking me to give 30 pence for the right to relieve myself. Why, I am thinking (with a fair bit of frustration), does Sheffield seem to be trying to be like its more authoritarian Yorkshire brother Leeds? (with the recently built St Paul’s City Lofts skyscraper in mind; a towering yuppie tower dipped in a corporate veneer and with ground level surroundings in which anyone without a suit and tie on would look like a potential threat to security – a type of building seemingly, already omnipresent in Leeds city centre). Do the decision-makers for Sheffield (who are supposed to have its interests at heart) believe that this is really progress?

Leeds, the city that I had just travelled on the train from (regardless of its remaining qualities, especially its old pubs) seems to be well over a decade into an extreme gentrification and commodification of the entire city centre, until it is nearly at the point where it is almost out-of-bounds to those who live in the surrounding poor inner city areas. Around the outskirts, one will find some of, what must surely be, the most deprived areas in this part of the country, whilst the centre gleams with ever-more shining towers, outdoor bistros, and horrendously expensive shops. Outside the covered walkways, one will still find a fair few of the victims who have to live in the sink estates surrounding the city centre (arguing on the streets with their spouses or fellow family members, confused as to the cause of the state they’ve ended up in) but, with the advertisements of the city’s future plans teaming-up with the already ‘cleansed’ areas, one realises that it is only time before these people won’t be even allowed to walk the streets of the city they call home.

But this process is happening everywhere (check out the new Trinity Walk shopping centre in the nearby city of Wakefield – a completely unnecessary addition to the city for nearly all except those behind it), It’s just that Leeds was possibly quicker to get there. The reason why the toilet pay-barriers in Sheffield bother me, is because, out of all the cities and towns in this area, Sheffield still currently seems to possess more culture, greenery and more of an alternative to a place dominated by money only (both officially and unofficially: the city is draped in street art like no other northern city), highlighting it as an hot-bed of alternative thinking and creativity – basically, even if only slightly, Sheffield seems to point to a more positive, even more progressive, future, than most cities currently do here in the U.K. But nowhere is safe.

The Government slashing of state funds is exacerbating this process, forcing such public places as train stations to charge people for what once was free, and forcing organisations, councils and charitable trusts to further-more allow the corporations into their living rooms in order to survive (The charitable trust I work for is now receiving funding from the Shareholders of Santander, one of the world’s largest banks, correlating with a period in which it has suffered funding cuts from government body sources – without a doubt, ethics become less important in times of struggle). The government’s (the Conservative-Liberal democrats coalition) “the cuts are a necessary evil” rhetoric is (to anyone who suspects thus investigates) total bollocks and is actually a policy for economic shock therapy (a way for capitalism to worm its way into any remaining publicly owned assets, or create a new market through generating fear of not doing so, brought to our attention in Naomi Klein’s must-read book The Shock Doctrine). It is a disaster capitalism tactic; forcing everything (through fear) to become more profit-making orientated. In this case the fear dispelled was of a ruined nation/total economic ruin – “worse than Greece” – and enough people bought the idea that the cuts were necessary, even if they didn’t agree – mentally hemmed in by the fact that the governments best of worst enemies (Labour) said they’d still also make the cuts, just over a longer period of time and in a ‘nicer’ way.

Frightened into succumbing to the wants of the free market-loving establishment – all parties above incorporated (fuck me, it gets me angry when people still refer to Britain as a democracy just because I can voice this without fear of being beaten with a club) – we are being herded like farm animals into more company-friendly fields. Basically a city is becoming a place that is officially out-of-access to anyone who isn’t there to shop, or who doesn’t have surplus cash (a social-cleansing – getting rid of all that is ‘unsightly’ and all that one needs to forget about if they wish to spend/consume friction-free, without any niggling doubts about the impact of doing so – which is already the case in the white-washed indoor shopping malls). Is it not insane that now people in city centres actually think to themselves “I can’t really afford to piss right now”?. We already have to pay for drinking water (disguised a physically-enhancing ‘special’ mineral water), now we have to pay when we need to return it.

What this does at a fundamental level – when money is required to allow our body to proceed with functioning (which makes this ever-so scarily close to a stage when oxygen becomes a commodity, which – looking at the way things are heading – doesn’t seem completely unrealistic) – is make money issues swell to have a ever-more dominant presence in our lives; the need to have it, the need to be able to make it, make us more focused on looking after ourselves and ourselves only (or at least the family unit), making the need for it more and more viscous. This is perfect for all-pervasive capitalism to keep on regenerating itself – it is one continuous shock therapy. This process will continue to exacerbate the problems currently affecting our society – clone town centres sealed off from clone ghettos.

Let’s imagine a city centre full of drinking water fountains, free public toilets, fruit trees lining the shopping streets, indoor communal places where you can enter without being required to buy something within 5 minutes of being in there. The issues of crime and vandalism (which many may raise as an stoppage to such plans) are very tiny obstacles to say the least, as vandalism is usually a reaction of people who have (by the very processes of capitalism taking land away from the public) been made to feel like they belong to no place. A capitalist society will only ever seek to solve the problems caused by capitalism by becoming ever-more authoritarian.

In line of what I was previously saying about Sheffield, the city does currently have really nice places where one can sit and not have to pay for something, including the indoor peace gardens which do open for most of the hours in a day (although the presence of figures who seem to be a a cross between bouncers and policemen, under the Orwellian title of ‘community support officer, does lessen the relaxation of the place). But I fear that if (and probably when) the money gets even tighter, franchises will move into these areas, making one have to purchase something in order to be there.

I believe that one must always do what they can to try to make the world better, and not just seek to make themselves better than others, but all-pervasive capitalism makes doing so excruciatingly hard, when one is always undergoing the shock therapy mentioned above. This has been a 250 year old scam which is really start to take the piss (quite literally) now.

p.s: If people see this as catastrophising, then perhaps I need to state that I see capitalism as causing catastrophising loops which are difficult to ignore. But truth be told, I currently attend Cognitive behavioural Therapy sessions in an attempt to overcome my negative thinking cycles in relation to my personal/social life. However, I am in disagreement with seeing my concern over climate change/the destruction of society by capitalism as located (just as my paranoia and low self-esteem can be) with an inner negative thought pattern that treats opinion as fact (and the reaction of “it’s just a case of being able to switch off now and again” is missing the point of what I am getting at): perhaps I am completely right and these ‘global’ patterns will be perpetuated and exacerbated (as with my own inner negative thought patterns) because society itself is locked in a negative vicious cycle – a self-destructive cognitive pattern which is reflected in the psyches of many in a late-capitalist society who attend such therapy sessions for help! And in this light, is not reasonable to suggest that it is the world that currently has the mental illness, not the individuals who are suffering? (I see the impersonal striving of capitalism, and the power that protects its endeavours, as the source of these negative planetary cognitive loops. Indeed, part of the reasoning in deciding to go to Cognitive Behavioural Therapy was to get rid of my perpetual walls, in order for me to be more of use in helping/being part of a change. The dilemma lies with the difficulty in taking only want I want to take from it, without coming into conflict with its own agenda, which, of course, is coated in the ideas of the ruling ideology: for example: at one session it felt like I was being encouraged to see likely outcomes of runaway climate change as opinion [things I expect to happen, because of my ‘catatrophising’] rather than fact, and it seemed to me that there was an encouragement to simply forget and to take the line of “there’s nothing I can do myself about it, and I’m sure the government is doing all it can do prevent this happening” – a way of seeing things which runs in perfect harmony with the ruling ideology’s attempts to condition us into being simply isolated, self-orientated individuals, who let ‘the leader’ (whoever that may be) sort things out, whilst we do our best to get along with our lives. However, I am still attending CBT with the hope of benefiting from the merits which shouldn’t need to be entangled with the ideology’s agenda).

Waiting for train to Darton from Wakefield Kirkgate station

wakefield kirkgate 1

Isn’t it strange that certain ‘types’ of people would never appear in a certain type of place – even if this place serves as a public function. Wakefield Kirkgate train station is a very different beast to its sister station – Wakefield Westage – as, because it only has local train services, it has been left semi abandoned in an almost horrifying run down side of town. This station is shopless, assistantless and roofless and is notorious for being a place where dodgy things can happen.
Whilst I was waiting at this station today I thought I saw girl I know (knew, I should say). A girl who has gone on to do well for herself, and is almost certainly on her way toward a very healthy and satisfying career.

I knew before I could confirm it that it wasn’t her. Why did I know though? Because people who are going places – in the way in which it is meant in the modern, post Thatcherite, Britain – just aren’t to found in places such as this train station. To me, the two together – this young hopeful and Wakefield Kirkgate station – would make an almost surreal juxtaposition of imagery.
I am in no way criticising this young woman, or her social circles, it is merely an observation of the fact that certain types of people will not be found in public places which they ‘socially evolve’ away from. Perhaps it is possible to observe the income and opportunity gaps in Britain by visiting a train station with fast services to London and Edinburgh (Wakefield Westgate) and a station wit services to Castleford and Barnsley (Wakefield Kirkgate) – Barnsley being the town this girl originates from hence the reason why I initially thought it could be her waiting there.

Sadly I would say that the description of the average person I have seen waiting at Kirkgate would be a person of around late twenties, wearing tracksuit bottoms, smoking and looking older than they actually are. Truth be told, this girl I mentioned has a social circle of which I always used to envy, and would have wanted to be part – though it was never going to be i wasn’t like them; which possibly says as much about me as different social groups in society. Sadly its unlikely that I would meet a woman I could be with at this station. However the problem is, Nor would I at the ‘going places’ station of Wakefield Westgate. In a classed divided nation, I am in the middle of nowhere, running to which ever one I feel I belong with, which is neither.