Saturday Saunter: Psychogeography, trains and Christmas

Good Saturday to you,

I’m writing this as the light is slowly draining from the sky on Friday afternoon. To be fair there hasn’t been a whole lot of light today – it’s been a bit wet, grey and dismal, though it’s been possible to get a walk and stay relatively dry. This is being posted earlier than normal because of work.

Hanover Street, Glasgow: a street view with older buildings to the left and more modern buildings to the right. A bus crosses at a junction in the middle of the street.
Hanover Street, Glasgow: a street view with older buildings to the left and more modern buildings to the right. A bus crosses at a junction in the middle of the street.

I haven’t managed very much psychogeography recently. The level 4 restrictions might have been a good time to try and find a new spin on familiar walks but it didn’t feel right. Hopefully I can try and get out for a meander soon. One thing that I saw that interested me was on Twitter. Students on the contemporary archaeology course at Durham University have been out doing psychogeography around Durham, an excellent city to drift in, looking at how the urban landscape and shops have changed due to the pandemic. I found when I did my first Streets of Glasgow walk for a while at the end of August that I behaved differently and perceived the environment differently too, noting the precautions and changes around the place and taking extra care to be distant.

Last week the Office of Rail and Road released statistics about railway station usage over the 2019-2020 period, finishing at the end of March this year. London Waterloo remained the most used railway station in the UK at 86.9 million entries and exits while the least used was Berney Arms in Norfolk which had just 42 people use it, this admittedly being hindered by being shut for most of the time. Glasgow Central was again top of the charts in Scotland at 32.4 million with, as far as I can tell, Lochluichart in the Highlands propping up the table at 198 people for the year. Obviously next year’s statistics will be very, very different due to the pandemic though these numbers are particularly interesting to illustrate how things were prior to March.

One unintended benefit of restrictions has been that, until this weekend, background music has been banned from pubs and restaurants here in Scotland. The Scottish Government has specified that music can be played at a low volume, which is better than nothing. I can’t really function in places with blaring music and part of the joy of eating out is to be with the person or persons you’re with, not necessarily to listen to the tunes. It will be interesting to see what the Government deems an acceptable volume.

I don’t think it’s a secret that I’m not the biggest fan of Christmas. The day itself, the time off, the time spent with loved ones, even if it might be on FaceTime: that’s all good. It’s the commercialisation of it that bothers me, plus the incessant cheesy tunes, though this year that has bothered me less, for some reason. We were in the car earlier and I heard Wizzard and I didn’t even grind my teeth. My home town, Dunbar, takes Christmas seriously. For many years there have been over-the-top, even garish lights strewn up and down the High Street but it works. This year, there’s a Christmas tree made of creels down at the harbour. I’m not going to be able to see it in person but it’s actually really nice. It’s imaginative and clever, plus it would probably be seen for miles out to sea, which is a particular advantage in that part of the world.

Since the start of the season, football teams in many parts of the world have taken the knee before games in the continuing efforts against racism. It’s been in the news about booing at Millwall and that has been widely and rightly deplored. There have been reports of racist and homophobic language at games this week too, which shows how far we need to go to make our game truly open to all. This is expressed very well in this video, which was on A View From The Terrace last week, featuring Kaela McDonald-Nguah who plays for Motherwell. She talks very well about racism in football and wider society.

Anyway, that’s the Saturday Saunter for today, Saturday 12th December 2020. Thanks for reading. The last Saunter of the year appears here next Saturday. The inbox clearing post will appear on Wednesday. Until then, keep safe, keep well. A very good morning to you all.

4 thoughts on “Saturday Saunter: Psychogeography, trains and Christmas

  1. That creel Christmas tree is very cool! I was hoping to go into central London today to see the Christmas decorations and go to the National Gallery…and then we got moved into Tier 3. I suppose I could technically still go in, but if museums and restaurants are closed, doesn’t seem to be much point!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Probably not! I would imagine that being in central London at this time of year would be hellish, only worse since there’s no good food or museums to compensate for the bustle!


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