on life, music etc beyond mainstream

2016 18 Okt


von: Ian McCartney Filed under: Blog | TB | 2 Comments

Assange and The Big Money
The Snowden reference Lajla made in the previous post provides me with a perfect link to this post. (Great Gabriel lyric there Lajla, by the way.) Anyway:

Yesterday I stood just ten metres away from Julian Assange. I didn’t see him. Maybe he saw me. Who knows? Thousands of people pass Assange every day, most probably unaware that behind a net curtain, there he is – on his exercise bike, or watching the news on cable, or both.

Whenever I go to Knightsbridge I always stand on that corner for 30 seconds or so. For a good while there was a uniformed police presence on the corner. Then for a few months there was a presence that didn’t identify itself. Now there is nobody. It’s not a part of the area you’d much notice – Harrods‘ loading bay is at the end of the short street, and the Ecuadorian flag flies from the bay window of the Embassy where, in a presumably small and airless room, a weird captivity plays out, at length, while – in a very real sense – history slowly unfolds around it.

From a pyschogeographical viewpoint there is something fascinating here. You have the unstoppable flow of people everywhere – and of money too, with One Hyde Park (or whatever it is called) just across the road. London’s most expensive new development, architected by the same guy who did the Pompidou.

In most new developments you’ll get a few retail units that house a coffee shop, a deli, things of these nature. At One Hyde Park the retail units are McLaren cars, a private Islamic bank, and Rolex Watches. In the walkway between the buildings there is a recess maybe ten feet square, unused, where for some reason the building’s wall isn’t flush. There are spikes on the paving in the recess, to deter anyone from sleeping there. They look like a large version of the spikes used on window ledges to deter pigeons. Pure JG Ballard.

Anyway, it’s totally weird to walk between these points so close together and on the one hand see the river of big money and the almost overwhelming amount of people passing through, while on the other, a window behind which the feeling of stasis can only be injurious to mental health.
Brockwell Park
No adventure in pyschogeography should have an itinerary. Psychogeography is not a narrative, although I guess there’s an element of narratives overlapping or colliding. A friend called, she said do you want to meet for coffee. I said yes, let’s meet at Brockwell Park. So we went to Brockwell Park. Which was remarkably free of Hundescheiße.

The coffee was good but the weather turned cold and it started to rain and I had to go to Stoke Newington so that was that. It’s an unremarkable park but it has that sense of South London invincibility.
The Isle Of Dogs
At some point prior to or after this, I was on the DLR and did what all good psychogeographers should do and got off at a random stop. Mudchute.

This used to be the real East End, the murder and mayhem end of town. But these days it has the feel of success. Not trendy enough to be trendy, not desolate enough to be London’s answer to Staten Island. Then before you know it you’re on a walkway under the Thames. Where in typical British fashion there’s an instruction: do not cycle. And a typical British response: the tunnel is full of of fucking cyclists.

Quick look around Greenwich, not in the mood for maritime museums, let’s go to Canary Wharf for no other reason than that it is there. I was looking for another walkway. One I’d seen photos of but couldn’t locate even with Google Maps. I asked a security guard. Got my smartphone, showed him the picture (expecting to be told it didn’t exist or wasn’t yet open). He said: go out that door, it’s above you. So I did, and it was.

Crossrail Place, One Canada Square. You could have a flight of stairs either end, easily, and not need the walkway. But it has to have been worth the money – it’s pure Kubrick.

„How the Chimney-sweepers cry
Every blackning Church appalls,
And the hapless Soldiers sigh
Runs in blood down Palace walls“
„Now as the ladder of life
‚as been strung
You may think a sweep’s
On the bottommost rung
Though I spends me time
In the ashes and smoke
In this ol‘ wide world
There’s no ‚appier bloke“
„In the night we freeze
And you want me to tell
In London’s lonesome park

This entry was posted on Dienstag, 18. Oktober 2016 and is filed under "Blog". You can follow any responses to this entry with RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.


  1. Lajla:

    Thank you for pointing out the spot of the embassy. When I go to London to visit the Caravaggio exhibition, I will stand there too.

    Yeah, great song from Peter Gabriel. Same high quality as BIKO. Uwe just sent me the track.

  2. Lajla:

    Forgot to say thank you for the William Blake poem.

    Ha, „windowlicker“ sounds more modern – but same evil job.

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