I'm up earlier than usual on a Saturday. Partly because I'm sleeping quite well post-osteopath, partly because the bloody sun's shining.

On days like today, I can believe that we're going to have a pleasant sunny summer. One where it only really gets too hot around midday and during which the mornings are all this glorious sunny but cool and I can just sit on the balcony and watch the river go by.

On my walk back from town yesterday, I paused on Albert Embankment. Just opposite the Millbank Tower there's a boat moored that's a restaurant. I've dined on a river-moored boat (not this one) once or twice, I never much cared for the slight motion of the tide coming in or going out. Anyway, I paused because the tide was coming in and there was a group of birds gathered on the sandbank that was about to disappear - there were four geese and half a dozen gulls. They were picking through the floaty soup of plastic that gets relaunched when the water returns. I can't believe they don't accidentally get bits of polystyrene packaging along with any organic material. And blimey, their guts must be very different from ours if they can drink that river water and survive for long. The geese were in pairs and standing quite still, while the gulls alternated between sitting in the water and flying around, squawking.

Apart from the birds, I noticed two other things. There was a strange flow of water. I assume it's a sudden change in depth, a bank of some sort underwater, and it doesn't exactly cause whirlpools but the river does flow back on itself for a bit, it was about 10 feet wide (ie across the flow of the river) and about four feet the other way. Just a bit odd. The whole river's moving of course, but that bit looks like it's more dynamic because it's going against the rest, it has a kind of outline because of it.

The other thing was the wood. There was something that looked like a railway sleeper, a couple of short stumpy logs (as tall as they were wide, so the best part of a cubic foot) and a misshapen smaller piece that looked like one of those lost but vital parts of a child's toy that you find under the sofa, only this too was about a foot long. And all four pieces were making their way upstream with the tide. They'd been stranded by the boat and I watched as the water rose and gently picked them all up, one at a time, and carried them off towards Vauxhall Bridge.

05/31/14; 08:10:12 AM

Had a funny walk in this morning, I was talking to someone on the phone when I left and so didn't think too hard, just set off along the river. Then I realised it was about half past nine and I was only at the bottom of Battersea High St and I'd have quite liked to be at the RFH for #tuttle at ten. So what to do? Couldn't remember the selection of buses from Battersea Park Road, but walked up there anyway. By the time I got up there, I'd figured that there wasn't anything that was going to get me all the way to Waterloo and I was really resisting going to Clapham Junction because... well I'd been walking for forty minutes and I'd only got to Clapham Junction. But carrying on to Queenstown Road would have been silly so I walked up Falcon Rd and got on a train.

Tony was there when I arrived. Oh before that I got a coffee from the place where they write your name on the cup, the one on Waterloo station. And today's version of my name was "LYLOD" so when the poor barista called "Black Americano for .... um... " I said, "I expect that's mine" and shared a chuckle.

So yes, Tony was there when I arrived. We talked a lot about walking in the city and thinking with your body; and rhythms and drummers "having time"; and writing about walking; and teaching by doing alongside; and needing an audience; and how "audience" isn't quite the right word for what we have now.

I see this most purely on instagram. I don't have an audience, I share my stuff and there's a gang of us that I expect will see it, but I'm always as interested in what else is in the stream. When I'm walking and making pictures it can be harder because I'm out and can't necessarily see the screen against the sun or reflections or else my eyes just aren't working very well, but I do try not to just get into "push mode". I think there's lessons there for contributing to or participating in other streams.

On the way back I walked as far as Queenstown Road station. I went along the river. I'm guessing that when the Battersea Power Station development is finished, you'll be able to walk all the way along the river path but you have to dodge inland a bit around that development. They've new-ish hoardings up with "LIVE ORIGINAL" in massive wooden letters nailed on. I'm surprised that there isn't more graffiti - and now I think about it, I don't remember seeing any on any of the (way too many) boards surrounding construction sites. Are they graffiti-proofed or is it about the security guys and surveillance? Or is it something else? Is it a sign that this gentrification is actually very welcome in this part of South West London? Um. No. I can't really believe that one, certainly not with the kinds of people who would do graffiti in the first place.

I allowed myself to stop and instagram along the way. It's a little distraction from the rhythm of the walk, but it's not too bad, especially when I'm on the home leg. I see there's going to be a Rhubarb Patch by the river in Nine Elms - it has it's own little area already laid out and well-manured.

I must try the coffee shop in the Queenstown Road station but I'm always on the way somewhere else. Next time perhaps.

05/30/14; 02:54:27 PM

I went to see the osteopath this morning. At 9am! She practices in Morden, so it was an opportunity to take the tram, although on that little bit down from Wimbledon, you wouldn't really know you were on a tram particularly (as opposed to the open-plan tube or overground trains).

It was nice to have someone pay attention to my shoulder. I was warned that I might feel a bit weird afterwards. I'm not experiencing that much at the moment - I've had massages that have left me feeling much more zonked, but who knows, it might kick in after a night's sleep or something.

She did two big clicks on me. The first was the one where you put your hands on the back of your head and they wiggle, wiggle, wiggle, CLICK. The other time she used the weight of her body on me while lying down. There's no way to describe that (believe me I've just tried several other ways and deleted them all) without it sounding a bit shady, but it wasn't at all like that. Yes, I went to a suburban house this morning and in exchange for cash, a young lady made me lie down and then pressed down on me with her body until something in my back went click. Let's move on.

She did other things too, but quite a few of them were not easy to describe. At one point, I said to her "Oh that's interesting, I notice that you're doing something but it doesn't seem that you're doing anything." Which is a bit like some of my work, I show up and do nothing, but it's not really nothing.

My shoulder is free from pain, but then it had been a lot less painful since Tuesday morning. I just also have the feeling that something is going on inside me that I'm not going to be aware of until later.

She was very chatty. I suppose I'm comparing it with massage again, where people generally just be quiet and expect me to be quiet. Perhaps it's a technique to get you thinking about something other than what she' doing with her hands.

I'm aware that I've spent a lot of time in my life avoiding using my shoulders in a way that might hurt them, I've been hyper-defensive. She suggested swimming as good exercise - crawl or backstroke - and I realised that I just decided at some point that I couldn't do anything other than breaststroke because I was afraid of hurting my shoulder. So I've just been holding that fear in my upper body. She said at the end that it didn't seem to be so much a problem with the shoulder as the way I was compensating with my upper back and neck muscles.

So. I've got some exercises to do and I'm going back next week.

05/29/14; 12:37:35 PM

I set off this morning for a repeat of the Trinity Rd jaunt to Tooting Bec and I had a couple of podcasts to listen to on the way. A R4 doc from a few weeks ago about startup culture in London, which was, well, just a bit naive - not enough to have me shouting at my mp3-player but certainly worthy of a few exasperated sighs on the edge of Wandsworth Common.

I then finally managed to listen to Debbie Harry's Desert Island Discs, which had some interesting talk (though it was one of those with an American where they aren't really familiar with the format and treat it like any other talk show - ie they don't give anything away that isn't linked to what they're promoting. Maybe I was just feeling uncharitable after the startup documentary). I dunno, I guess I also wanted more of her selections to be like "White Light, White Heat" and to be rooted in my post-punk adolescence, instead of emphasising that she's the same age as my mother.

That took me to Tooting Bec. I didn't fancy a strong coffee in the nice coffee shop there, so I turned right and walked down to Tooting Broadway. There's really some good photography to be done there, lots of interesting buildings still and shop signs. A purple church! But I didn't have my camera out, I was walking walking.

I'd overdone it by the time I got to the Broadway, so I slipped into the new Starbucks rather than try something more artisanal further along. And I sat there and made some notes before being spotted as a "Dadda" by a baby being fed spag bol. This happens a lot. The mothers tell me, it's the beard. Anyone with a beard is "Dadda". I don't remember this from having babies myself, but then perhaps there weren't so many beards around then.

I ignored the fact that I'd overdone it already and started walking up Garratt Lane. The drizzle had started, which was quite refreshing, so I plodded on, thinking about presenting Works In Progress, perhaps doing a monthly thing at C4CC where I talk about what I've been working on. Hmmmmm... I'd actually rather do something in South London - is the South London HackSpace getting anywhere? Ah yes, I see it's in Herne Hill, just that little bit far for me. Still, might be worth a look.

And suddenly I was almost at Earlsfield and my Achilles tendons were getting sore, so I sat at the bus stop and waited for a Number 44. It went 3 stops and the driver had to get out to go to the loo. That's never happened to me before. As someone else on the bus said, he'd only got on at Tooting, he should have gone before he started work. But you never know what's going on with people's waterworks, do you? No, and I don't want to know particularly, thank you.

In the end the bus ride from Earlsfield took about 45 minutes because of the traffic. So I was actually out for quite a while altogether. I wonder what I missed.

05/28/14; 03:00:32 PM

Starting to think about social ways to help increase participation in next year's General Election. I spent some time looking for other people already doing stuff in the UK. Seems to boil down to the Electoral Commission although GOV.UK is also rebuilding the electoral roll system to create individual registration rather than doing it by household. Will be interesting to see what (if anything) changes with that.

I'm not sure what the dynamics are around registration - in the 2010 General Election about 93% of the voting-age population were registered, meaning that the voter turnout figure most quoted of 66% is actually only 61% of the VAP. However, maybe 93% is as good as it gets, don't really know what the factors are in this - I assume that there are some exclusions but that then it's down to people moving and not registering or else not wanting Government to know where they are.

And then there's the more obvious issue of getting people out to vote on the day itself. What social things could we do to encourage voting? What #wewillgather type of things? Could one say "I'm going to vote and I'm going to take 15 people with me."? What different things could happen for different groups - I mean, people who vote at particular times of day because of work, family or health issues. Could you also have a kind of ElectionReminder.com a bit like BirthdayAlarm - something that sends you a tweet/e-mail/SMS to encourage you to make time for it or to apply for a postal/proxy vote if you know you're not going to be around.

Anyway, I'm not the first to think about this. Who else is working on it? How can we help?

05/27/14; 04:19:39 PM

I walked very little yesterday as I started feeling some pain in my shoulder and upper back on Sunday night which just got worse through the night and meant I didn't feel up to much at all. Plus it was pouring with rain. It's subsided a bit today. I walked this morning, but couldn't turn my neck without difficulty, especially to the right, so every time I crossed the road I had to turn my whole upper torso...

It's felt a lot better since I got home.

It seems to be centred around an old injury. I dislocated my right shoulder about nineteen years ago in a stage-fighting class. I hadn't been paying attention when we were being taught how to roll out of a fall and then I was grabbed, thrown over the top of someone and instead of pulling my arm in and rolling on my shoulder, I put my arm out to stop the fall and it took the brunt of my weight and went the wrong way. I went to A&E and got it put back OK but it's always been weak. And on occasions when I've gotten angry and in a strop, it's almost popped out again. Nothing like that this time though, it just feels like my body's going "Oh, now you've remembered I'm here, there's this thing you've not been dealing with for twenty years."

05/27/14; 03:18:48 PM

I'd seen something that looked interesting this week and signed up for it. I knew at the time that it was the weekend after my daughter's birthday and that I'd likely have lots of things on and that it was on the other side of town, where I've practically vowed not to go, but when I got up this morning, it still seemed like a good idea.

However, I hadn't had much of a walk yesterday, so I thought I'd give myself an hour and a half on the road on the way, maybe walk as far as Victoria and then get the tube.

Man, I'm an idiot! Really. What was I thinking? Not the walk, but the thing. After 50 minutes of walking, I knew that it was ridiculous to be giving my weekend to other people instead of enjoying it myself. I've got a million things in my head that I'd rather be doing. So I stopped, got a coffee and got straight about what I was really going to do this (bank holiday!) weekend.

And now I'm going to walk home.

05/24/14; 12:26:58 PM

It's taken up a lot of thought and time and it's really personal and it's close to me in ways that I don't even understand. That's why it's important to me to keep going. I don't care if I don't understand, but I need to experience, to process, to put down or put away in little boxes, to leave behind, having learned.

05/20/14; 08:49:10 PM

The seed for me getting involved in this work was the TIDA 1935 film "Men Who Work" which we saw by accident when looking at the British Council Collection.

If you look at that film - it shows a day in the life of the factory, including the counting of the cash for the wage packets - it tells the rest of the world how British craftsmanship is the key to the success of the company.

If you then look for clips about Longbridge in the Media Archive for Central England (MACE) there are a few promotional items - "the 1 millionth Mini!"... "the 2 millionth Mini!" and then local news clips about layoffs and strikes with lots of vox pops about whether they agree with this or that.

This means that there's only one story being told again - the success or failure of the company, with failure being laid at the unions' door.

There's nothing about what it's really like to work there, the humour, the social life, the everyday experience of anyone who worked there or the people who lived nearby and didn't work there.

I'm hoping to find moving picture material that starts to tell that part of the story.

05/19/14; 03:30:20 PM

I'm drawn to this in the work that I'm proposing about the Longbridge site. The mainstream narrative about the plant is that it was an important part of Britain's economic success until the late 1960s when strikes and industrial disputes created by greedy, communist union officials dragged the company down. The day was saved across British industry by the Thatcher government's union reforms but it was too late for the car industry which was just too broken to be worth fixing.

Now if you think about it, that's obviously not the only story that could be told. It's definitely told from the point of view of a mass media that generally sides with company owners, shareholders and government. The alternative view, that the Tory government was hell-bent on destroying the labour movement, no matter what the cost is just another telling of the same story - it still pits men against management, Labour against the Tories - it uses the metaphor of battle and one side won and they get to write history. But there was surely more to it than that.

The story of ordinary working people is hardly ever told by them. It gets appropriated and re-presented by others for their own purposes. I don't want to do that, I want to encourage people to say what they've always thought anyway, but didn't have a framework to have it be heard.

Why is this important for the future of the site? Well, it's about counteracting the forces of monoculture. If you allow for there to only be one story that gets told about the past, you continue the pattern and it's more likely that only one story about the future is acceptable too. One viewpoint, the consensus view that originates from those with power and gets handed down and repeated as truth.

With blogging, we're getting used to the idea that "there's a bit more to it than that". We can present all the stories and then triangulate our position from them. We can't ever stop people making stuff up in order to either make themselves look good or else to confirm their prejudices but we can say "that's not the only way to tell this story"

05/19/14; 03:10:11 PM

I come from what I considered to be a fairly ordinary South Birmingham family. All the people I knew were born in the twentieth century and they represent a cross-section of British society in that time. At least a cross-section of the "ordinary people". We have no aristocrats, although some of us have aspirations...

The bulk of the people I call my family are Davenports although I'm a Davis. My father had one brother, who died five years ago. It appears that he did father some children but it was while he was travelling the world and he never introduced us. Both my grandfathers died in 1990, in their eighties. My father's mother died at Christmas 1991 - she saw me married, she got to meet my son. My mother's mother died in February 2009, aged 97. My mother has four brothers and two sisters and between them there have produced 19 members of my generation (so-called "legitimately", I think there are two others born out of wedlock in the sixties and given away for adoption).

05/16/14; 05:25:41 PM

Pete Seeger visiting steel drum makers and players in Trinidad

Moving Doctors

  • I just got round to registering with a local doctor, five years after I left the area where I was previously registered. I know this is bad. I mean it's good to put it right, but it's bad that it's taken me this long. About a year of that time I was on the road, but still.

  • I think I made a move towards it when I was living in Chesson Road, but I think that move was "pick up the forms from the surgery". I don't think it went any further.

  • I'm not ill. I feel good, but clearly something has shifted, since today was the fifth day in a row that I walked more than five miles and now I'm willing to register and probably go in for a check-up. I am fortunate, I have not had any serious illnesses or injuries, I have never spent a night in hospital. I've had a couple of visits to A&E after carelessness on the stairs, oh and the times I dislocated my shoulders at college. I'm not a heavy user of the NHS.

  • And so the medical questionnaire was straightforward. I needed to disclose that my dad had an aortic valve replacement a couple of years ago at age 74. Given the heritability of that condition, I suppose it would be sensible to have my heart checked and as I approach 50, I think they encourage you to have a range of checks regularly. Part of me says "well if you go looking for stuff, you're likely to find it". But I think it's better self-care to have checks rather than self-diagnosing every twinge and soreness, every bit of life that could be a symptom of something horrible.

  • It did help that I could do it all by filling in two online forms (although I rolled my eyes a bit when I had to repeat information in the second one).

"Steven Melendez asserted that monegraph could “eradicate fake digital art”, when this is exactly backwards. In fact monegraph makes it possible to have “fake digital art”, because prior to this we had no consistent way of defining an “original”." - Anil Dash

05/14/14; 02:43:10 PM

I just got round to registering with a local doctor, five years after I left the area where I was previously registered. I know this is bad. I mean it's good to put it right, but it's bad that it's taken me this long. About a year of that time I was on the road, but still.

I think I made a move towards it when I was living in Chesson Road, but I think that move was "pick up the forms from the surgery". I don't think it went any further.

I'm not ill. I feel good, but clearly something has shifted, since today was the fifth day in a row that I walked more than five miles and now I'm willing to register and probably go in for a check-up. I am fortunate, I have not had any serious illnesses or injuries, I have never spent a night in hospital. I've had a couple of visits to A&E after carelessness on the stairs, oh and the times I dislocated my shoulders at college. I'm not a heavy user of the NHS.

And so the medical questionnaire was straightforward. I needed to disclose that my dad had an aortic valve replacement a couple of years ago at age 74. Given the heritability of that condition, I suppose it would be sensible to have my heart checked and as I approach 50, I think they encourage you to have a range of checks regularly. Part of me says "well if you go looking for stuff, you're likely to find it". But I think it's better self-care to have checks rather than self-diagnosing every twinge and soreness, every bit of life that could be a symptom of something horrible.

It did help that I could do it all by filling in two online forms (although I rolled my eyes a bit when I had to repeat information in the second one).

05/14/14; 02:43:53 PM

It seems that my phone says it's back at home every now and then. It's odd, there aren't any devices turned on here that are sharing location, unless there's something weird cached in the router?

Anyway I learned a lesson today - don't try to walk through busy areas like North End Road and be prepared to cut your walk short if a thunderstorm starts shortly after you leave home. So I didn't get my usual pause at 45 minutes, I had to keep walking and then had to get a bus because the rain was so bad. Apart from the bit from Redcliffe Gardens to Imperial Wharf, I was up on my feet.

05/13/14; 02:24:18 PM

I've taken a long walk three days in a row now. I don't want to make predictions or commitments about how long I'll do this, but I'm enjoying it and I plan to do it tomorrow. That's all I can say.

It started on Saturday when I was feeling a bit down and sorry for myself. I'd spent some time earlier in the week at Longbridge and I was pining for the hills and woods of The Lickeys. I was thinking that I needed to get back there and spend some time in a place where I could just decide to go off for a walk across fields or woods any time I liked. And I looked out the window and realised what a buffoon I was being. I set out first to see whether I could walk to Wimbledon Common from home. Of course I could, but it's about 3 miles across suburban housing estates and main roads. Nonetheless it was tremendous to find myself there after about an hour or so of walking (slowed a little by several showers of heavy rain). I had a wander around the woods, walked down muddy tracks, came out by the Windmill but had had enough walking by then and so went to get the bus. I rode down to Putney and had a cuppa in the High Street and then walked home. It felt good.

So yesterday I'd thought a little and decided it might be fun to see how far I could walk in 45 minutes from here. I thought that I should be able to do a five mile round trip, so 2.5 miles in 45 minutes (at my gentle 3-4 mph shamble). I should say that this isn't meant as a get fit quick regime, the motivation is more for me to simply be using my body rather than sitting here clicking on tabs. I know that my brain works better when my body is working more and that trying to make a distinction between the two is silly 18th Century reductionism anyway. No, 2.5 miles felt comfortable.

So I had a look at the map and drew a 2.5 mile radius around here. Turns out that, as the crow flies anyway, the south side of Chelsea Bridge is about 2.5 miles from here. I reckoned that with some of the twists and turns of the route between here and the bridge, it would probably add up to 2.5 and it seems about right. It's not so much about the distance as where I get to and what I can see within 45 minutes gentle walk of here.

I set off and set a timer for 45 minutes and just forgot about distance and time and walked along the river path downstream to the east. It was very windy and quite cloudy. I expected a shower or two, but they never really came till I was almost home on the way back. I found that the path is open now between Battersea Bridge and Albert Bridge (there was a while when it was closed because construction) so apart from having to cross the roads and the little detours around the heliport and the railway bridge, I was next to the very choppy river all the way. In the end I made it to just about half way between the Peace Pagoda in Battersea Park and Chelsea Bridge. I was disappointed to find that I'd come out without more than £1.50 in cash and so couldn't have a nice cup of tea before turning back. So I sat under the pagoda and made some notes and then plodded back along the same route that I'd come. This is new for me - I usually try to do circular walks, but I like, for now, the idea of just going there and back again and knowing that it will take me the same time as it took to get there.

Today, I headed south. I took Trinity Road, again for 45 minutes, and made it as far as Tooting Bec station. On the way, I remembered just how much woodland there is in Wandsworth Common (really not far) although it's a bit weird wandering around in the woods during the day, I got the impression that perhaps some of the other middle-aged men hanging around there on their own weren't just there for the fresh air... Anyway another good walk, I feel fresh and inspired, lots of ideas come while I'm moving and today I'd made sure I'd got some change with me so that I could get a nice coffee and have a sit and a think at the half way point.

I fiddled with making a podcast while I was walking but I couldn't really think straight while I was walking an unfamiliar route with people around. Perhaps I need to practice. I'd like to get back into a regular solo podcast routine.

Tomorrow, I plan to head North (ish) into Fulham and West Ken. I should be able to get beyond Earls Court easily.

05/12/14; 02:16:47 PM

Last built: Sun, Feb 7, 2016 at 4:12 PM

By Lloyd Davis, Thursday, May 1, 2014 at 10:23 AM.