Reading the streets

Walk Reports

One small consolation for walkers in lockdown is that it's no longer necessary to travel to Manchester to join the Loiterers Resistance Movement for one of their First Sunday strolls. For the past three months the Loiterers have been conducting their group walks remotely meaning that anyone can join in from anywhere in the world. You can read my report of April's walk lead by Blake Morris here.

The theme of this month's walk was "reading and writing space". Loiterer in Chief, Morag Rose writes:

Lets read the streets (or our rooms or gardens or ginnels or wherever). This month I invite you wherever, and whenever you are to find scraps of texts. Writing on walls, fragments of rubbish, slogans on t-shirts or placards or billboards, shop fronts and flyers…. Whatever you can find. Take a picture or make a note and if you feel like doing so call it poetry. Its a way to begin to rewrite the city by taking what it says to us and rearranging in new ways. Detournement of trash and textual treasures.

I enjoyed this walk, it took me back to the time I became fascinated with the manifold typographical layerings of Digbeth while making this film with Ben Waddington:

Getting back into that mindset I headed straight for Stirchley high street, camera in hand, and was immediately bombarded by text from all directions: "Elite apple", "Pandora's Box", "Wine Wanker?", "No free newspapers". My favourite discovery however was this vintage notice on the side of a postbox. I can't even comprehend what's being communicated here. The past is a foreign country and its mystifying artefacts hide in plain sight:

I left the high street, headed down some residential roads and made my way to the canal. The bombardment subsided and I actually had to start paying attention. The textual treasures were still plentiful however:

It was nice to walk without a route or destination pre-planned and instead just allow myself to be guided by the poetry of the streets. I ended up in a deserted industrial estate and passed back into the civilisation of Kings Norton through an avenue of lime trees before returning home.

When back I uploaded my photos and had a go some detournement of my own. It was fun.

Once again thanks to Morag for this opportunity to walk together, alone. Until actual group walks become a thing again this is a valuable substitute.