Exeter Nightwalk 12th April 2008

Participants texts

Following the nightwalk we sent out an open call for participants texts, images, anecdotes, and other fragments

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Phil Smith

I keep thinking of the walk because my train to Totnes or Plymouth (which I use pretty regularly) crosses the route a couple of times, FIRSTLY close to that social club we found - I barely glanced at it as we passed, but the lighting - the stark light around the club, and the figure hanging there, and the dusk sky - very David Lynch, desperate and attractive. My abiding memory, apart from falling over in St Leonards (have just spent a couple of days in Fribourg which also has a St Leonards area), was of the electricity pylon near to the canal (and to the second crossing point with my train route. The pattern of the pylon's structure against the last light of the day. The walk we took was constantly crossing other drifts and performances I've been on - a Tim Brennan manoeuvre, Wrights & Sites' 'Pilot Navigation', etc. and when my daughter was 4 or 5 we drifted in the snow for a day and we walked by this pylon (and later ate at the café where we stopped on the walk). Under the pylon Rachel used my red and white stick to break the ice in the large puddles there (there's a photo of this in Mis-Guide To Anywhere) so there was a moment for me at the pylon, a poignant sense of time passing and the layering of the landscape with memories and associations. I had a very good time - and very different to my own rather slow drifts - I particularly enjoy the chance symmetry, looping through the County Hall gardens, that bright cloister, the edge of the new shopping area, and ending up back at the station.


Overlooking the grey decay of Exeter central, the blackened bronchioles of privatisation, neglected forgotten, stand an unexpected collection of lingerers, lingering. I am one of them, we are not yobs, spiv’s, chav’s, or pike’s, we are not intimidating, we are intimidated. We are drinking Appletise though the yob and the alcoholic cried from within for the grim satisfaction of crassly chilled beer.

Wall mounted memories and half spoken promises lured me here. Wisps of conversation and thoughts flitter past my head, look at the art, look out the window, look at the art, look out the window, look at the art. Eat cake. Syllables fall out of my mouth awkwardly as I talk to someone whose name I have forgotten. We exchange niceties and wallow in the moments’ unpleasant flavour.

A new person pointed out an historic impossibility in the art before us. They spoke to me, brash and confident. I spoke back. They left. Another person, this one old, spoke to me too and we did not mention the white elephant we were both holding between us. And we started to walk, un-annotated, and, for the most part, unacknowledged. I was enjoying my feet and the concrete.

He told me some things in a somewhat encyclopaedic fashion, as we trundled past banana man and the old priests quarter. At the house that moved we all pretended to be saddlewheels on the river roundabout, and we pointed ourselves towards somewhere less salubrious. Further beyond some factories and some chav kids leering, we crept onto the wrong side of the tracks.

This railroad experience led to an extensive debate, glorious in its gratuity, about the direction of west at sunset and as to where the trains may be going. I overheard a conversation about a friends’ performance here and looked at large piles of glass that were to be ‘recycled’ in some mysterious fashion or other. We staggered past factories and illegal fluorescent signs for 5 aside football.

Marsh Barton at nights’ descent. Silent streets, some lights left flaring. One factory, still punishing its employees, smoulders on. Unmarked warehouse hangers lined with military hardware are spotted amongst the piles of shiny automobiles. Street signs loom above us and, like seven year olds in Disneyland, we are overawed into some sort of stupefaction and we are subdued only by custard in a lay-by.

Moving on. We are moving on. Never been here now. Somewhere new, with some looming factory or other, some dilapidated roadbridge, a car; a sexual tourist or an overworked employee? Orange on blue and we stop, and fumes belch and pylons silhouette and our guides walk on and on in darkness at a canal crossing with a confusion. We follow some young lovers instead and walkwalkwalkwalkwalkwalkwalkwalkwalkwalkwalkwalkwalk walkwalkwalkwalkwalkwalkwalkwalkwalkwalkwalkwalkwalkwalkwalkwalkwalkwalkwalk walkwalkwalkwalkwalkwalkwalkwalkwalkwalkwalkwalkwalkwalkwalkwalkwalkwalkwalk

read participants texts from other nightwalks here:

Nightwalk 1, December 2005

Nightwalk 2, February 2006

Nightwalk 4 June 2006

walkwalkwalk: The Musical September 2006

Nightwalk midwinter December 2006

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