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London Orbital: a walk around the M25 Iain Sinclair
A slow hand clap accompanied by an amazed repetitious nod towards the man who walked around the M25, Mr. Iain Sinclair; and he wrote a book about it called 'London Orbital'. Two great feats of durability; not only for the unceremonious concrete pounding Sinclair's soles had to withstood, but for the banal observations he manages to record, plus he attempts to embrace the nutritional avant-garde guises that suits the occasion. Yawn. Dull, morose settings, embroidered in a damp, grey haze, are a dreary back-drop in Iain Sinclair's performance - mist creating mystical apparitions dancing on the cold concrete dominos. How can you get inspired by such banality? Sinclair seeks beyond the cold square blocks and the grey spaghetti landscape to enlighten his readership to a literacy feast; so he wished. Unlike the M25 walk, the read is a meander on a warm Sunday afternoon, with a whiff of fresh hay barging its way to your nostrils.
Sinclair may have composed this book and mixed it up adjacent to his chosen past-time of 'walking' - but he comes across as if he is a Michael Parkinson - interviewing or shall I say walking with like minded people 'Peter Ackroyd' notably Sinclair's reflection. They squabble about their artiste intellect as if it is a sport. Jovially sickly - all too staged and familiar in my opinion. Peter, plays second fiddle, however, it deems slightly unrealistic considering his character barely possesses coming second in anything; let alone the meandering sport of walking, and engineering enthusiasm from the structure of concrete plinths. I imagine the two quickening up their stroll at periods between the deliberating and spontaneous poetry. No, it really doesn't come across like 'Mary Poppins' - none of them have a flying umbrella nor cheat via floating to each destination either. Nor did they stumble across a corrugated barn and a straw chewing Dick Van Dyke.
I found it tough to rally enough positive impetus personally; so therefore buying into the Sinclair Ackroyd 'love of London' muses and ramblings teetered on overbearing - their overtly bumptious tone warped my synapses at intervals. Breaks, loads of them are required to muse over their own insular musings - on each paragraph it seemed. Marc Atkins their 'London Orbital's' (chosen photographer) was far more cohesive with his tarmac plains and deft occupational artistry. 'Rodinsky's Room' - of course added further bulk to Rachel Lichentein's and Ian Sinclair's joint venture. and I felt like a right lemon wondering whether they'd forgot they've got a reading audience (if you could call it that) with the book 'London Orbital'. Naturally, they will argue they're inspirations would've come from their London walks - but still I wanted to throw my agitated hand up in the air and shout - "Hello, I'm here: stop your private chat!" Not that he'll listen, Sinclair's selective hearing is well-known - open-mindedness depends to who he is in the company of? Or what their portfolio consists of? Or if they've been invited to Sinclair's walking club.
London no doubt is a myriad of diversities; every piece of the cultural jigsaw has a place somewhere and Sinclair's 'psychogeography' titled entity, is an attempt to make sense of the tarmac landscape. It isn't just simply a banal grey artery to the big smoke, nor a vast concrete ring magnetized to grit, fast food polystyrene plastic, used condoms, disregarded under garments, and shamefully long skid marks. Sinclair highlights embryonic dealings and facts, allowing his heavy lid readership pieces of inane trivia that inevitably will pop-up during a pub quiz; engineering the participant into a frenzy of spontaneous excitement, for ten seconds max; then ending in despair, as the answer drifts off around the orbital into oblivion; damn Sinclair.
As much as our post modern lifestyles hate the rigmarole of joining the 'road to hell' (Chris Rea 1989) it is nevertheless difficult to picture British commuting life without it. The M25 is indeed far more useful than anything erected in the last twenty years in London. However, I can see why the authorities were left scratching their bald spots when the orbital plans were initially made. "So where does this road start and end?" No where.
For Sinclair and his companions the idea of finding on their walk new areas of interest, inspiration or unfound artifacts, stroke objects is a reason in itself to pound the leafy walkways. Who has done it beside the most famous road in the UK? Not that many of us. Then again, I would wonder if people, who did allow such thoughts, were either senile, or painstakingly searching for hallucinatory substances for solitary usage. Before anyone does wonder whether there is any structure to Sinclair musings, there is. The problem is, you've got to ramble through the undergrowth with his 'ancients' (that's what he calls other people close to his age) to find a resemblance of a map or a guide. It isn't guided via petroleum fumes, soiled pants, or fragmented used toilet tissue. Again, Atkins is tirelessly clicking, as well as walking: he's renowned for his city and nude images.
London Orbital could be used as knowledge for a distant civilization - lock it in a vault and Sinclair and companions would be credited to becoming more than just crusty ancient walkers, licensed to peruse about the obvious, and getting paid for it. Sinclair's angle is odiously 'biblical' - his poetry splurges appear as if they're samples of bible verses. The 'road rage' murderer Kenneth Noyes gets lineage, as if it is a placement landmark of note: blurring evil, grotesqueness, the beautiful, and the concrete banal. Albeit falling short of excavating imaginative metaphors. One thing is for sure: realism is set firm in Sinclair's view-point. His wordage is amusingly old school, echoing Prince Charlie somewhat when it comes to London landmarks deemed as overtly abnormal from the forest of oblong erections. Sinclair lectures on the Architect Hine whilst encountering Claybury's asylum. Couldn't help but smirk; he's knows far too much about its interior; probably observed overnight for city stalking tendencies.
Whether you buy into Sinclair's London insular opinion, or snippets of poetry, you've got to admire his stamina. Firstly for writing such a banal book and secondly, for having such good friends who spent time ambling along 'chewing the fat' with him.
Exploring the banal was indeed, banal.©1st2thebar2011