How a once-derelict patch of ground, is helping to galvanise a community in one corner of South London.
Not far from where I work in Clerkenwell, a series of large orange and white flags fixed to lampposts line the major thoroughfares running through Holborn, Chancery Lane, Bloomsbury and St Giles. They state blithely that you are InMidtown, before in tiny print, grudgingly acknowledging the actual names of the places they are attempting to reinvent.
Yesterday, the St Jude storm sent me on something of a dérive within a small area of Lambeth. There were no trains due to the winds, so instead of standing on Tulse Hill’s platform 1, I made for Brixton, but wanting to avoid the main roads, headed up a road I’d never walked along before.
Grand plans and remodelling on a citywide scale never seem to have worked in London. It doesn’t possess the triumphant avenues, boulevards and grid layouts of other major world cities.
This means that some of its most interesting spaces: old churches, museums, wonderful little shops, pubs, statues, gardens and even whole streets sometimes take a little finding.
Imagine a map that grew and shrank, advanced and retreated as we lived out our lives. This map wouldn’t simply chart every building, street and pavement encountered, this map would change according to the weight and resonance an individual gave to a place.
Landscapes, places and routes that meant more to you personally would be given greater prominence.
Equally places you had never visited, or didn’t care, for would shrink in relative size, or disappear altogether. This would be an emotional map, a map of the inner world as much the external one.