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Friday, December 10, 2010


i like to walk (walk i said, walk. get you minds out of the gutters). it is the closest i come to exercise these days. sometimes i walk from home into the west end and then back again. not only does it keep me fit (well as fit as i am likely to be) walking is a great way to see the city, you go at your own pace, you can take your own diversions (on in my case just get lost), stop and looking at the surprising things you can see when you are on foot.

now i was going to go on about a small piece i had recently read in the daily telegraph about how walkers have a much better quality of life than others, how walkers strolling around to the their friends/ the shop/ the pub help raise the ‘social capital’ of the community. the piece concludes with people who walk have more friends and get on with their neighbours.
hah ha i thought and has my mental chuckle died done i was left with the thought i was the exception that proves the rule (i still don’t understand how that works).
being a good boy i wanted to check that i had gotten it right, so i go looking for the article. can’t find it, either i am stupid (very possible) or the telegraph has a shit search facility (quite likely), or they have hidden the piece in some arcane section of the website that is only accessible on the night of a full moon while you juggle peeled carrots (it could happen).
however i did local an abstract of the study that the telegraph was talking about and it turns out that it is not quite the same as the telegraph said (or my recollection of what the telegraph said). what the study found was that people who lived in more walkable communities are more civically involved and demonstrated a greater level of trust than those who live in less walkable neighbourhoods. which on the face of it reasonable – if you are out walking, and others in the area are doing the same there is more interaction.
so not quite the same thing as the telegraph was saying.

big deal i can hear you say. why are we still here then?
well it just so happens i have an amusing anecdote about my walk of today.
it started off in liverpool street, over to old street, down clerkenwell, then up farringdon road, a miscalculation on my part meaning i got a little lost before i ended at the gallery i was trying to see. turns out that was a waste of time. from there down the euston road where i get to see the police arrest a chap, wasn’t very exciting at all. turn into tottenham court road and then great titchfield street and long stroll down to the royal academy in piccadilly.
it was not the most direct of routes.
coming out of the exhibition i decided i would take a more straightforward route home: oxford street, new oxford street, (walking like the clappers) high holborn, holborn viaduct, (still at a fair pace) newgate street, cheapside (stopped to admire new shopping centre type thing and to have a drink of water), poultry (slowing down), cornhill (slower), leadenhall (ambling), aldgate high street (trudging) and home.

where is the amusing anecdote you ask?
well before i set off on the trek i was looking in the window of a shop in kingly street when a slurry voice asks me about the bike i ride. i tell him i don’t ride a bike and we start talking music. chat, chit, jibber and jabber. he was a big nirvana fan, but like dance and paul weller, hey he liked all music even cher off the x-factor. he has finished his can of lager and has started on another. his brother comes over; he is selling ‘the big issue’.  i learn there is twenty years between them. we all continue to chat about music. a pretty italian girl comes up to us to ask where a particular pub is. we all struggle to make head or tail of the map. eventually we get her to where she wants to go (it was the first turning on the left from where we were).
i take this opportunity to tell them that it is time for me to go as i have a long walk home. they ask where i was going i tell them, ah to be sure they only live around the corner from there and why would you want to walk that far. i need the exercise and besides, i joke, i don’t have enough for the bus fare.

too which they say ‘here take two quid and get a bus home’.
so there i am trying to tell one slightly pissed irishman and his ‘big issue’ selling brother that no it is was fine and i couldn’t take the money from them as it wasn’t a problem to walk and i had planned on doing it.
don’t be so proud they told me. luckily they didn’t insist and we parted with handshakes and merry christmases all round (after they had also offered me a spliff).
all though slightly mortified that they had offered me the cash, it did reaffirm my faith in the milk of human kindness.

around the end of poultry i was thinking to myself: “should have taken the cash”.

(yeah ok it wasn’t that amusing. or even interesting) 

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