Blakes Road, the book I am writing, is the story of a walk I took last year from England’s south coast to London. Specifically from Felpham, near Bognor Regis in West Sussex, to Bunhill Fields, a cemetery in Islington. The distance was something around 70 miles, and it took four days walk, meaning the book is divided into four chapters.
Archive for the ‘walks’ Category
I am halfway through the task of illustrating ‘Blakes Road‘, the book I am currently writing. I’m illustrating the book as it is, in part, a paean to William Blake, and Blake illuminated almost every page of his own books, so I feel I should do the same.
Here are a few of them:
Whilst writing my first book Swindon Orbital earlier this year, I learnt something important about the act of writing. It was a crucial lesson, but not one I can share with you right now, because it went on to form the key idea around which my second book Blakes Road is being built, and to share it would be to spoil that.
i’ve finally finished my essay ’swindon orbital’, which has taken 4 months to complete. for me it’s a major piece of work and i’m happy with it, with some reservations (which i think is healthy). i’ll keep this short post because the essay itself is what’s worth reading. if you’ve not heard about it before and would like to know more, start off here.
once completed, friend and fellow writer james burt suggested it should be published in actual book and promoted in swindon, so i did. details of its promotion - including a bbc radio interview and a newspaper article - can be found here. if you’d like to purchase a printed version of the book contact me directly here (copies cost £5), and if you’d just like to download the pdf, you can find it here.
if you do read it, please come back here and add your feedback. i’d like to know what you think.
for the last two months i have been working on my essay documenting the walk i took around swindon at christmas. it’s taken a very long time to complete, two months in all, but early last week i handed it over to james burt, a friend and fellow writer, for editing and proofing. james says he expects to have it back with me in a couple of days time, at which point i plan to integrate his suggestions, tidy it all up and publish it, as a pdf.
after which… i’m not sure yet. it turned into a much larger project than i expected it to - nearly the length of an undergraduate dissertation - so i feel as though i should do more with it than just stick on the website, although i’m not entirely sure what yet.
last weekend i visited arundel with e and her parents. arundel is a lovely little market town on a hill in west sussex, home to the duke of norfolk and a well-preserved norman castle since 1068. today it has a beautifully twee little town centre:
amongst other shops in this photograph one can see a butcher, a grocer’s shop and a bookshop. i was enjoying my stroll around these expensive, specialists stores - admiring the cheeses on offer in the grocer’s window - when it struck me that the only sense in which this place was any more ‘real’ than some virtual version of it - one recreated in second life, say - was that it was a physical location. the england i grew up in and know is all about suburbs, supermarkets, fast food shops, television, blue collar jobs, computer games, motorways, petrol stations, nhs hospitals, prefabricated school buildings, etc, etc. the chocolate box, pastoral & staunchly tory view of england that arundel suggests is just a tourist backdrop. a pretty one, sure, but as unrealistic a backdrop as any scene i’ve seen at the movies or in some computer generated environment.
this is the shape of 27th of december 2008:
this shape demarks the route of a walk i took on that day. inspired by and loosely modeled on iain sinclair’s ‘london orbital‘ - where iain circumnavigates london by following the route of the m25 - i decided to go for a similar walk around my home town of swindon. i bought a map of the town, roughly worked out the geographical centre, drew a circle with a compass around it and then went out to follow it by foot as closely as possible. with the shape of roads and the physical locations of buildings and farmland it was never going to be possible to walk a perfect circle and the route above shows the path i eventually took. the red line at the bottom of the shape marks the walk’s start and end point; the junction of springfield road & croft road and formerly the site of swindon’s old workhouse.
the idea - beyond simply having a post-christmas day out - was to see my own home town in a new way and reflect upon it afterwards in the form of something like a blog post. however, the experience was so rich with significance that it has forcably extended itself into a larger project; i will return to swindon in mid-january to spend a few days in the newly-built reference library putting together an illustrated historical essay.
the essay is now finished. once completed, friend and fellow writer james burt suggested it should be published in actual book and promoted in swindon, so i did. details of its promotion - including a bbc radio interview and a newspaper article - can be found here. if you’d like to purchase a printed version of the book contact me directly here (copies cost £5), and if you’d just like to download the pdf, you can find it here.