walkwalkwalk midwinter - with special film screening by Gimpo
|The misty evening added a haunting atmosphere to the event and I half expected a materialisation of an east end gangster to appear from out of the railway arches. The cobbled streets, the flickering lights from the passing trains and their echoing hoots contributed to the overall effect of being caught up in another time. With the City lights being drowned by the mist it was a walk that allowed us to see an alternative view of Bethnal Green.
The first anniversary of walk walk walk and the ritual is now well established. We meet, as usual, on the bitter corner outside Raj News. We clutch cups of something hot in our stiff hands and maps are distributed. There are some new people, but many of us know the route now. We think we do. There are all the usual non-landmarks, the scruffy backs of buildings, the same-old ephemera littering the pavements and gutters. It makes me smile to remember Clare, Serena and Gail at Camden Arts doing their ‘Antiques Roadshow’ about the various types of bottle tops and other precious items they have picked up on the route. I recall that it was colder last year and that I chatted with Michael who is not here tonight. The people lucky enough to make it to the musical walk are reminiscing. Such and such a band played here, and another there. Memories accrue. A year on, and this is the difference: we have been here before. It is not the walk into the unknown we experienced last year. We can anticipate. We can get bored or notice small changes. We can wonder if that was there before, or if we just didn’t notice. We are part of the mundane ritual which began the whole thing.
I am looking forward to Gimpo’s mystery screening. When we get to the brazier, now with the glowing walk walk walk legend cut into the barrel, the screen is set up against the mesh fence of the city farm. It shows someone squatting over a fire in a stone grate feeding money to the flames. It is the K Foundation film which Gimpo made in 1995. I enjoy the image of the fire blazing in the dark night and the real brazier next to it. Soup is handed out like charity and we stand around, a bunch of largely unpaid artists, watching the ritual burning of £1,000,000. The film has been dug out of the archive and now, re-shown, the event it records joins with this one. There is pleasure in being admitted to the bothy hearth and the event that became a legend. It sharpens my awareness of being part of this evening in Bethnal Green; that we create something from nothing merely by turning up and adding our own thoughts and memories to the accumulating archive. Happy birthday. Oh, and the chestnuts were a treat. Thanks.
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