Friday, May 09, 2014

Birthday

You would have been 50 today.  A ridiculous thing.  I like to think we would have celebrated with balloons, but we would have probably settled for bluebells.

This morning I heard a poem from the North Korean Poet Laureate Jang Jin-sung which has haunted me since I heard it. It is called 'The Most Delicious Thing in the World'.  It is at the end of this recording.

Friday, May 02, 2014

Walk 2

Vegetation.  There is a lot of it around when you start to notice it.  Small dangling green flowers on the sycamore trees.  Smart-looking new scales on the Monkey Puzzle trees.  Lawns shorn in stripes.
Today I took another way home from the gym through the Parson's Nook and onto Liverpool Road.  There were more of the pinheads I saw yesterday, not just in the walls of houses but the walls of gardens and some too in the pavements.  Why stick a rod through a garden wall?  Why embed one in a pavement?   What would happen if I were to give one of them a slight tweak?  After a few more steps I knew: the scales on the Monkey Puzzle would rattle, the lawns would fold into a concertina and begin to play and the green sycamore buds would burst open, one after the other - each flower a different colour.  While underground, the network of water, gas, telephone fibres pipes would switch.  Gas would surge from taps, water from the speaker of the phone and from the cooker the sound of the internet would rattle from the hob.  I touched one of them and it hummed with power.  I decided to move on.

Walk 1.

I have just read that May is National Walking month.  Today I walked just 8,000 steps, which is relatively few for me just at the moment.  The article talks about writers walking for inspiration,  but it is not just writers who find that walking helps them create - a lot of scientific writers made great discoveries when they walked too. The French mathematician Pioncar√© walked to be inspired, and the physicist Leo Szilard famously realised the implication of the nuclear chain reaction when walking across a road in London.

Just recently I have been trying to walk more for another reason.  It has long been bothering me that I drive in order to exercise in the gym.  It seemed ludicrous and wasteful.  So now I walk to the gym. The more often I do this the shorter the distance seems, and other walks to other places become possible so I do them too.  I am surprised at how little extra time I need.  I feel it is time less wasted.  As I walk I notice things.  In fact I believe that it is only by walking that I feel I can truly experience the place I live. I exchange a few words with people I meet.  I notice smells, the way shadows fall on the pavements, the sounds of water flushing mysteriously beneath a stretch of pavement.

Today I walked mainly around a superstore, and then parked deliberately a long way  from the Brewery Tap so I would have to walk to get there.  It was around 9.30pm when I walked back.  On the 'Dark Row' someone was playing music and the space was lit with small white lights.  Frodsham Street, in contrast was dramatically quiet and dark.  In the distance I saw a solitary man approaching.  Before we pass each other underneath the scaffolding of an empty restaurant, he has become a mugger.  I tighten my grip on my folded umbrella.  It is either that or my hand bag.  Maybe I will have time to whip it back and hit him  once and then...we would grab my arm and stop me.  He walks past.  I don't risk eye contact.  Then. just before Cow Lane Bridge, is the Oddfellows Arms.  Three hundred years old.  Happily still occupied and doing business.  Inside an orange-yellow glow of light and the shadows of heads.  On the wall one of those large metal pin-heads marking the end of a structural skewer.  I imagine catching hold of it and turning.  The pub turns and then Quakers' Meeting House, and then the shops behind that.  They rotate, catch and slip, roof on the ground, floor pointing up to the sky, each side basting for a few moments in moonlight.  Inside the people have given up trying to keep upright and laugh as they fall against the settles and bar stools, blaming the ale.

And to think I would have missed all this if I hadn't walked.