In a way London deserves its own map. Or many. If the tube is your way of moving around then you are island hopping. You cannot keep hold of the world once you have descended into the tunnels. If I climb aboard at South Kensington, and take the train to Covent Garden, then yes, I can piece together what is happening on the streets above me … I will roll past the fashion designers of Sloane Street and Harrods, under the arch of Hyde Park Corner, along the edge of Green Park, and on underneath Piccadilly and the Leicester Square cinemas to my stop. This is due to my memory of the route though; the dark tunnels give nothing away. Indeed, there are some stations I have been to just once, like Brixton or Caledonian Road, which are in complete isolation to any other London in my mind, nothing connects them to the world. I arrived stealthily, creeping up below them. I take to the streets for a short while, for a gig or a play, and then descend back down leaving behind the darkness lapping at that little patch of land I managed to illuminate.
It is exactly this that I love. Drawing lines between places; not Google’s on a screen, but real ones made of houses and trees. I delight in rearranging the picture of the world in my head to fit the evidence. Imagine a house, a mansion, with many rooms and corridors and alleys and courtyards. Some person is dragging you around blindfolded, allowing you a peep here or there but never enough to take in the full architecture.
Well, I will continue to draw my lines, gnawing away at the dark patches.
This is my roundabout way of reopening dots on the map. I may not be in Mongolia, London may not have wolves or gers or the wild edge of the frontier, but it does have plenty of its own stories, tucked in amidst the bus stops, the boris bikes, the pubs and the bridges. Let’s seek them out.