04 January 2012
no great expectations
I suppose he should not have asked me to cut his hair after I'd been watching Great Expectations (still on i-player atthe time of writing). By the end of a walk round Rainham Marshes on Sunday, he rather resembled Magwich emerging from the water. My tweed coat just acted as a wick and little rivulets ran out of the corners of the hem. It was a good start to the new year.
The next day, the last day of the holidays, we followed the Walbrook from Shoreditch to the Thames. Of all of Tom Bolton's route, this is the shortest and in possibly most elusive, for there is very little evidence of a river. No surprise really. Even though the routes were only published last year, buildings have already disappeared, routes blocked by new building sites. It's the nature of the City, ever changing. Bolton suggests standing beneath Richard Serra's Fulcrum at Broadgate and thinking about the "echoing subterranean spaces of the Walbrook in its sewer pipe below". We did, of course.
Even though it was a bright day, it was chilly in the narrow lanes and wider streets where taller buildings created wind tunnels. There was a sighting of the join between the old London Wall and newer bricks; the opportunity to pay homage to Vesta and an appropriately fluvial Neptune clone in the faux temple on the corner of Bank; interesting rustication on Throgmorton Avenue; an unusual viewpoint of St Paul's Cathedral above a building site, soon to disappear.
The walk took us through streets I've walked through scores of times on the way to work but without thinking about a river below. We ended where the Thames Path meets Cousin Lane. With the tide low, we checked the foreshore and examined bits of river-glass, pottery shards, flints and bones. Then we looked down Three Cranes Wharf into the storm drain outflow below without seeing even a trickle of the secret river.
It didn't rain though. And Tate Modern does a decent pot of tea and a good line in surrealism.