Saturday, 1 March 2014


Neighbourhood Walks

"Can I ask you what you were doing in the Close?"

I was aware of the car crawling alongside me before the driver wound the window down and asked this question. I'd spotted her earlier. She'd looked quizzically at me when on reaching the end of her cul-de-sac, I made a mark on a piece of paper I had in my pocket, promptly turned around and left. I'd been prepared for this question.

"Walking," I said. The furrows on her brow deepened. "Exploring," I offered next (once again met with no understanding). "Making a map," (nothing). "Exercising," (the blank expression pervaded).

I took the paper out of my pocket. What started as a photocopy of a local map was now covered in a tangle of pink lines.

"I'm walking every road in town," I explained. This was met with bafflement, but the hint of cognition.

"It's just, we don't get many people in the Close," she offered.

This year I've instigated a winter walking project: Neighbourhood Walks. It started as a means of getting me out of the house during what is traditionally a very quiet walking time for me. It's become a bit of an obsession.

The Neighbourhood Walks have been very instructive. I've found delightful corners of this town that I'd never expected, and also seen first hand just how closely the rich and the poor live. There's been grotesque architecture and tight-knit communities. I have a good mental model of where all the alleyways are that link together otherwise distant streets.

It's sad that my behaviour (walking for exercise) is considered unusual. Perhaps my Neighbourhood Walks aren't completely compatible with Neighbourhood Watch. I think next time I'll just say I'm scouting properties for burglary. At least I'll be understood then.

Posted by pab at 22:27 | Comments will be back one day. Please email me instead!