Review 24 Preludes – Christopher Hobbs

24 Preludes (1992) Christopher Hobbs

Album on Experimental Music Catalogue Bandcamp page:
https://bandcamp.experimentalmusic.co.uk/album/24-preludes-for-piano

Score available from Experimental Music Catalogue:
http://experimentalmusic.co.uk/wp/emc-composers/christopher-hobbs/

To many experimental and curious composers of piano music in the last 50 years the weight of the core canon of what we call Classical Music has seemed a problem in need of redress.

It has always felt to me, as such a composer, that there is a need to acknowledge the canon in some way, mainly through either confrontation, a pursuit of some significant alternative language, a kind of agreement to disagree, or a warm embrace.

Some, especially English, experimental musicians from the 1960’s onwards took a different approach altogether, finding another way through the Classical canon in some or all of their music.

In fact, referencing the canon became an act of experiment, and notably referencing the work of lesser known composers, that is, those on the edges of or well outside the canon. Along with their exploratory experimental work, these musicians were drawn to the work of Erik Satie, as John Cage had done, but they went much much further than Cage. Think Busoni, Karg-Elert, Alkan, Szymanowski, Grainger, Ketèlby and nearer to the present day, Sorabji.

To my limited personal knowledge, the composers who particularly drew on such diverse and sometimes obscure sources were John White (especially in his Piano Sonatas) and Chris Hobbs.

By the way, Erik Satie is quite well known now, but the mainstream music history narrative still paints him as the “minor composer of major influence”. Throughout the mid-twentieth century, Satie was not acknowledged by the mainstream Classical music world, and it was only the most adventurous who understood Satie’s significance.

That idea of referencing the past while making music very much of the present day is to be found in the magnificent collection of 24 Preludes for piano by Chris Hobbs from 1992, now available, recorded by the composer on Experimental Music Catalogue. The score is also available.

At risk of losing my cool, I say: Wow! You have to hear this. This is one of the most interesting and absorbing (sets of) compositions of the last half century. Why do I say that? Well, the form of 24 Preludes has echoes of, and has roots in, the main canon of classical music tradition. Chopin and Debussy wrote sets of 24 Preludes, for example.

Chris Hobbs’ set of preludes follows the Chopin model of one prelude in each of the 12 major and 12 minor keys. Also, in the composition process, a title for each Prelude emerged and Chris Hobbs added the title to the end of the piece, in brackets. Just as Debussy did with his two books of preludes. So those are two ways in which the canon is acknowledged.

24 Preludes is like a catalogue of possibility, suggesting and making reference to centuries of keyboard music, forms and styles of music, including the less well known composers already mentioned (the album notes mention Alkan and Busoni). There is an extra level revealed when you have the opportunity to play the music yourself. Because, not only does this set of Preludes make reference to forms and styles, but also techniques, making this brilliant pianists’ music too. This is so enjoyable to play because, in terms of note patterns, fingering patterns and techniques, it is clear that they reference the history of technique as well.

There’s a sense of physical recognition.

But, for me, the reason I suggest an important place for the 24 Preludes in the piano repertoire and take them beyond the ordinary is in the way they reference those lesser known composers. I have found Busoni and Alkan in here, but, the Nocturne, Prelude 13 is a tribute to Koechlin… isn’t it? Quite honestly, when I made these discoveries and accepted my uncertainty, I accepted that I may be way off the mark.

The references and associations go beyond the Classical canon too. There’s a terrific jazz waltz, and Prelude 7, the Tango, is my favourite (to play, that is); this Tango is so sparse it only has the essential elements, as if a ruthless editor stripped some of it away. Or, at least that’s how it seems to me.

There is so much more to say but, for me, the reason I claim a high status for this set of Preludes is that, with all their tributes to other composers and to piano styles and techniques, they are very much music of the(ir) present. So yes, I stand by my claim: [one of]* the most interesting, enjoyable, significant and absorbing piano compositions of the last half century. My ears and my fingers agree on this.

*suggest removal of this.

Jim Simm (April 2020)

Review 24 Preludes – Christopher Hobbs

MACROtract: On one specific experience of indeterminate reality. Selected pages from a newish notebook.

Location: Colwick, England
What3Words ///chemistry.linked.vanished
Sat:52.945203N 1.106014W

1. By our presence, we haunt.

2. Definition: An old haunt; somewhere we frequented in the past.

3. I decided to visit an old haunt. I realised I needed to visit an old haunt. I did this on 1st April 2019. By train and taxi I arrived at Colwick Hall, an estate once in the hands of the Byron family, with the aim of exploring the grounds. [Margin note. Walk: Old church to new church of St John the Baptist, Colwick, via the grounds of Colwick Hall, Nottingham.]
Is it possible to go back to somewhere known to us in the past? If we accept that it is, if we are indeed able to do this, we have to accept the idea that place can not be separated from time.
Then, it may well follow that without the full three elements: Ourselves, a place and a time (or at least two times, then and now), we can not haunt.
I’m really not claiming these thoughts to be of any great depth, but these distinctions and definitions seem important before I can tell, honestly, of my experience.

4. There were 7 places I needed to visit; places that had remained with me, etched in my memory, places I had haunted and which I intended to haunt again. A low intensity haunting over an extended period, in this case more than 40 years, is as strong as a more intense haunting of a shorter period.
Old Colwick Church
The human body tree
The stagnant lake
The bridge over the stagnant lake
The walled garden
The kennels
The Nottingham/Colwick border
Mile End Road

5. The idea of an old haunt is still of interest to me. It seems to me to imply that we might have left an imprint on a place we frequented in the past; that we haunt the place in a way usually reserved for the deceased in the form of ghosts.

[Ghosts are only dangerous if we fear them]

6. So when I experienced fear, this was because I anticipated the fear and that I had reason to be afraid. Even memory, alone, can be malevolent.

[Am I haunting, or being haunted? The past, my past, or a past? By the past, by my past, by a specific version of the past?]

7. The village of Colwick is an island. Bounded by railway lines, the river Trent and Colwick Country Park (once the gravel pits), Nottingham Racecourse, and a railway marshalling yard and a motive power depot known as Colwick Loco. Before the roads in the area were rerouted it wasn’t possible to leave Colwick without crossing a bridge.

8. Known for flooding. Alf Simm warned Ruby not to move there. This was the outside perception of Colwick. Expansion wasn’t possible until a large sluice was built to control the flow of the river Trent. This opened as Holme Sluices in 1955, more than ten years before we moved to the area.

9. Not of any particular interest is The Vale Social Club. There was always a bylaw that Colwick could not have a pub, so the Social Club thrived in an alcohol vacuum.

10. One way out of the village is via a railway footbridge. This is built adjacent to the site of the murder at Saville’s Spinney. As a child and as an adolescent, I used to be terrified of this bridge, even in daylight, but I had a friend who lived the other side of the line. Sometimes it was unavoidable to cross after dark, especially in the winter. I remember him, Robert, finding it hilarious that I wouldn’t cross the bridge to visit him after school.

11. The nineteenth century murders at Saville’s Spinney haunt the area to this day. Although the woodland near to the Hall seems distant today, the Spinney was at the time in the grounds of that estate.

Wikipedia on Colwick includes:
“In 1844 there was a gruesome murder at ‘Saville’s Spinney’, then part of Colwick Park and later part of Colwick Woods. William Saville murdered his wife and three children in the woods on Tuesday 21 May. Their bodies were found one day later by John Swinscoe of Carlton who fetched the parish constable to the spot. An open razor was found in the left hand of the dead woman. The crowd for Saville’s execution numbered in the tens of thousands and twelve died in a panic in the moments after Saville was executed.”

12. Not of any particular interest is the marble factory. The marble factory was occult knowledge, by which I mean secret, knowledge. The power of this knowledge was ignited by word of mouth and, as far as I know, remained unwritten. I was introduced to this knowledge at the age of 15.

13. Memories of my first encounters with Nottingham train station. The grand entrance to the station. Now, a concourse with Costa coffee and a lot of open space. Then, full of cars. Taxi rank. Porters with trolleys. Dog barked furiously at the porter’s trolley and the owner explained, “’e dunt like barrers.” The phrase remains with me after almost 50 years.

14. I went to Colwick with the hope of achieving closure. I use ‘closure’ with a level of embarrassment, being now overused without what seems like any necessary clarity. A cliché of popular psychology. It’s hard to keep a straight face. I had resolved not to use the word. Psychobabble, but useful psychobabble, so I will use it anyway.
Still, it’s hard to say it, mean it, and keep a straight face.
Embarrassment because I feel the situation needs more than popular psychology, this is deep and needs to be confronted in the hope of some sort of release.
I ask myself if I would be making the journey at all if I didn’t believe in some idea of resolution, the term that I’m approching with my use of ‘closure’.
I now disavow my previous use of the word ‘closure’ in favour of the word ‘resolution’.

15. I had the first psychotic episodes I can still remember in the woodland behind Colwick Hall and between the hall and the village. Around 45 years ago. To me, psychosis is known as The Other State. When in woodland surroundings like these it is very difficult to determine a sense of reality. It becomes and remains indeterminate, and so it can make anyone, potentially vulnerable to The Other State.There are locations I’ve had in mind for all of these years. I needed to know if they had the same power they had then.
The locations:
The ruined Old Colwick church and grounds
Colwick Hall
The grounds of Colwick Hall, and the human body tree in particular

16. There is nothing more terrifying than being alone in the middle of woodland with only the sounds of birds and distant traffic. Well, I need to say, thank fuck for the traffic.
The traffic is never near enough to ensure safety, instill any sense of safety, nor to be of any comfort.
No consolation. No security. No solace.
These things are known by those who discern.

17. If, like me, you’re an explorer of the edgelands of a city, you’re mooching and you keep going, you may find you’ve gone too far. There is too much country. Here and now, in Colwick, on this day, this is too much country for me; too much country to feel safe.
What were gravel pits are now lakes in a country park.
The gravel pits were edgelands, definitively. Full of industrial machinery and powerful conveyor belts.

18. Colwick – industrial estate – sugar beet factory – gravel pits.
Large lorries carrying sugar beet (overflowing, it often scattered along the roads.
Large orange lorries with “Hoveringham” and a mammoth printed on the side carrying, overflowing with, gravel coming from the gravel pits over the bridge over the loop (or Little Trent) turning into Mile End Road. You needed the Tufty Club or David Prowse who would teleport in as the Green Cross Code man. An early crush, there solely to protect me.
The gravel pits were on the edges, adding grit to the village, but it’s now just suburbia, and suburbia is borderline countryside. The industrial estate is now separated from the rest of the village by a major road, the A612.

19. It’s unlikely this will ever be resolved. Was resolution actually my aim? The question is not “what do I want now?” but “what did I want then?”.
I have it. It’s adulthood, a long-passed adolescence, an acceptance of my self, as male and queer.

20. Then, I haunted for the future.
Now, I am still becoming, and I continue to haunt.

Jim Simm 2020

p.s. Look. Accuse me of gratuitous urban wyrding if you like, but these are my lived experiences. My narrative may be unreliable, but I approach it, the unreliability, with great sincerity.
JDS

 

This is a MACROtract, part of MICROcities. Jim Simm is an unreliable narrator.

Tract:
An area of land.
A publication, a brochure.

© 2020 Jim Simm.

For a hard copy of any SOUNDkiosk Tracts, email Jim Simm: jim DOT soundkiosk AT gmail DOT com

MACROtract: On one specific experience of indeterminate reality. Selected pages from a newish notebook.

MICROtract 19.2: Much Lane (formerly St Mary Stigh c.1070-c.1700) (not to be found on Google Maps)

Location: Lincoln, England
What3Words ///flash.enable.pans
Sat:53.229021, -0.541288

Is there an established boundary between any two intersecting thoroughfares? They sometimes seem clear and sometimes not. Where does one become the other? Give it a good metre leeway, perhaps, either way, just to be sure. This boundary issue doesn’t really apply to Much Lane because it only exists when it is divined.

You might already know that I write about the edgelands of the City of Lincoln. But edgelands are not always on the outer edges of the city (though, in Lincoln, most are). Take an unexpected turn and you can find an edgeland location in the very centre of the city. Touches of edgelands. Moments. An edgeland moment.

Cross the High Bridge and turn left after Primark, if going North, that is. Though, why you’d be going the other way I couldn’t say, as approaching from the south is the best option, and Much Lane is marked with a metal street sign, overpainted many times, on the Northern wall at the entrance to the lane, which you might catch in the corner of your eye.

Being prepared, at any one moment, for the smell of stale piss is part of the skill set you need for urban living. Much Lane is a prime location for a makeshift urinal. Be prepared before entry but, hint, pegs on noses doesn’t work.

Much Lane sign.jpg

 

In 1831 a house, dye house and other buildings were put up for sale. An advertisement stated that dying had been carried out there for 100 years.
Now there is just one large wall on the Southern side, built as Littlewoods and now the side of Primark. To the North, as I’ve said before, there are only service areas of shops and pubs on Guildhall Street. Although it doesn’t feel dangerous, on the whole, I once cycled past a group of men on the lane, one of whom said, ominously, “new bike!”

Much Lane is on Bing Maps, but not marked on Google Maps. I hear you can still get print maps, but I’m guessing you’d have to look online. I’ve seen a book of old maps of Lincoln and Much Lane is there going back at least two centuries, but I also read that “Much Lane, a footpath linking the High Street to the Brayford, is one of the earliest footpaths in the area and probably dates back to the High Medieval Era (850 -1350 AD)”.
[Lincoln High Street Character Appraisal, November 2018]

Aspects of Lincoln p.40 tells of a town cryer:
“As far as Lincoln is concerned, after the 1662 charter, the next known reference to its town crier is in a yearbook for the city, dated 1860. He was Thomas Whalley who lived in Much Lane… Today, the road is just an alleyway, without any houses.”

There was once a Prince Alfred pub on Much Lane and in 1881 the pub was in the hands of Christopher and Ann Bean with their six children aged between 3 and 19. A History of Freemasonry in Lincolnshire from 1894 tells of a Reindeer Inn on the neighbouring Guildhall Street: “The Rein Deer Inn comprised the whole of the south side of Guildhall Street to Water Lane, and abutted on the High Street to Much Lane.”
Medieval Lincoln by Sir Francis Hill p.132:
“The lane is precisely identified by a Corporation Lease (dated 1748) of the Reindeer Inn abutting south upon a lane formerly called St Mary Stigh but then known as “Mutch Lane”. The Reindeer Inn has been succeeded by the Midland Bank [now HSBC], at the junction of High Street and Guildhall Street, but Mutch Lane (its entry from High Street now narrowed to a passage) remains.”
There is a large pub to the south side of Guildhall Street today, but the backs of the buildings bordering the northern edge of Much Lane are only service areas with no public access.
There is now only one building on the lane, a combined commercial and residential building on the corner with Water Lane, at the Western end.

Water Lane is not just a thoroughfare leading to the water’s edge (on the River Witham, close to Brayford Head), it is also a conduit. By use of radiestesia (dowsing) it is found that an underground stream passes beneath Water Lane, transmitting [transporting?] water charged with the spiritual energy of the upper hill.

[The border Much/Water Lane flows… the edges flow… strong genius loci … vertical / horizontal… genius tempori]

Dowsing 2.jpg

Warning about bogus devices, such as ADE 651, Sniffex, and the GT200. These DO NOT work. When dowsing, rely only on tried-and-tested equipment, preferably Y-rods and L-rods.
In The Modern Dowser, Henry de France, draws a clear distinction between the two aspects of human thought; reason, and intuition. Dowsing is clearly placed in the world of intuition. For this reason, it cannot be proven by experiment as intuition is, in itself, unfathomable.

The New Roads UK website:
“The road Much Lane is a road in Lincoln. The course of the road Much Lane is shown on the map. Where is the road Much Lane in Lincoln? Looking for an apartment in the street Much Lane? Looking for Directions to the street Much Lane in Lincoln? Here you can find the map and the exact location of the new road.
In Lincoln, there are many roads. The road Much Lane is located in zip code area Lincoln. On the map you can see where the road Much Lane is located in Lincoln and how to find the road Much Lane, Lincoln.”

Street List says:
“Much Lane is located within the county of Lincolnshire which is in the East Midlands Euro Reg region of the UK. 120.91 miles North from the centre of London, 0.17 miles West from the centre of Lincoln, 31.65 miles North East from the centre of Nottingham and 31.81 miles South East from the centre of Doncaster.”

What and who are these websites for? Tract writers, clearly.

Jim Simm 2019

p.s. Look. Accuse me of gratuitous urban wyrding if you like, but these are my lived experiences. My narrative may be unreliable, but I approach it, the unreliability, with great sincerity.
JDS

 

This is a MICROtract, part of MICROcities. Jim Simm is an unreliable narrator.

Tract:
An area of land.
A publication, a brochure.

© 2019 Jim Simm.

For a hard copy of any SOUNDkiosk Tracts, email Jim Simm: jim DOT soundkiosk AT gmail DOT com

MICROtract 19.2: Much Lane (formerly St Mary Stigh c.1070-c.1700) (not to be found on Google Maps)

What I believed in 2004

I wrote this Credo in 10 minutes on 1st November 2004.
My list of beliefs are different in 2019

It isn’t exhaustive. This wasn’t my list of beliefs 5 years ago. My views next week may be different.

  • I believe anyone can be creative

  • I believe creativity can be learned

  • I believe creativity is primarily nurture, not nature

  • I believe that genius is attainable by most

  • I believe that genius is a concept of personal value, not a cultural accolade

  • I believe creative people of the past are artificially held up as models, and that this is unhelpful. I believe this model discourages creativity in the present. The higher they are held up, the more powerful the shadow

  • I believe creativity is about being oneself; fully, truly, actively

  • I believe we need to see creative people of the past in terms of their processes rather than their products if we want them to be useful to us creatively

  • I believe that creative history (the history of art for example) is not linear (chronological)

  • I believe there is truth in the statement: The past doesn’t influence me, I influence it

  • I believe that the notion of the Great Artist is an idea existing in a small pocket of history and is becoming shallow and redundant

  • I believe the artefacts of greatest value (products of creativity) are the ones which truly represent their time but which celebrate possibility (Keywords: Zeitgeist. Avant-Garde. Experimental)

  • I believe the concept of winners and losers (in a market controlled art world) blocks more creativity than it encourages

  • I believe the range of activities and artefacts celebrated as “great” is too compartmentalised and too narrow

  • I believe that creativity is stifled by taxonomy

  • I believe that there is “great art”, but that this includes a wider range of artists, media, and products than the range included in any canon

  • I believe the role of the audience is active

  • I believe the creative act (and its artefacts) justifies itself or has no justification at all. The rest is marketing and publicity (which is fine, but isn’t art)

Jamie Crofts 2004

What I believed in 2004

MICROtract 19.1: Holmes Bridge(s) at Ropewalk / St. Mark’s

Location: Lincoln, England
flash.moment.dated
(what3words)
Sat:53.226086, -0.545119

When visiting the bridges on 23rd January 2019 the feeling came to me that something astonishing happened here. That day I resolved to discover what this was with the intention of speaking the unspeakable.

By 23rd February of the same year I was able to reveal the result of my enquiry. It tells a story of two would-be lovers with much in common…

Two aspiring lovers arrange to meet at 3.30pm on the Holmes Bridge, on the south footbridge to be specific. Smith has an inverted sense of direction and is waiting instead on the north footbridge. Neither has a strong sense of self worth. Both Smith and King arrive from different directions, west and east, and both leave in opposite directions feeling rejected. They both return the following day at the same time and both choose to try the other footbridge. Again, rejection felt but not intended.

The three bridges at Ropewalk and St. Marks are at a site of transition and transformation:
To the north, completely urban. Commercial. Industrial. Hard bankside walls. Brick and concrete. Water, dark beneath the bridges. Green and grubby. To the south, completely pastoral: Verdant. Witham flowing quickly. Soft riparian banks.

On the third day, the 14th of April 2013, King returns to the south footbridge and leaves a padlock attached to the grid fencing with which the sides of the bridge are fitted. Written on the padlock are the words: “Smith and King 21/4/2013?”. When King returns one week later in the hope of seeing Smith it seems now that they are destined to meet. King attributes this to the padlock, serving as a talisman.

Smith and King lock

Both do indeed meet that day, at 3.30pm. The question mark is scratched away from the padlock and destiny it seems is fulfilled. And yet, that day, they discover that each is the other. Many partners, lovers, wives or husbands will talk of being as one, but with Smith and King this was more than figurative. Smith is King and King is Smith. Both are truly one. They are each the embodied doppelgänger of the other, hence the intensity of their urge to meet.
At 3.31pm that day, both simply merge. They decide on Kingsmith as their new identity and they leave the scene with a gentle disagreement about the direction to take.

List of bridges and viaducts in Lincolnshire (Wikipedia) describes the bridges:
Ropewalk Foot Bridge North is of concrete beam construction.
Ropewalk Road Bridge with a brick arch construction.
Ropewalk Foot Bridge South is built using a steel truss method.

Lincoln Townscape Assessment gives some context:
There was a narrow bridge carrying St Mark’s Street over the Upper Witham to Ropewalk by c1817 (Marrat’s Map) (Herridge 1999, 5019). The 1888 OS map shows a wider (c.6.25 m) bridge, perhaps the present one. It is a single-span flattened arch in blue brick and the roadway is humped. The history of the bridges in this location is the history of the development of the Holmes themselves and the different phases of construction of the bridges will chart the exploitation of this area in the Industrial Era.

A ropewalk was a long straight narrow lane, building, or a covered pathway, where long strands of material were laid out and then twisted into rope. A standard British Navy ship rope was 1000ft so a ropewalk was very long and due to the length of some ropewalks, workers may have used bicycles to get from one end to the other. Powerful machinery was used to twist the rope and the mechanism travelled on rails as the rope twisted and so shortened.

The phenomenon of the Doppelgänger:
I can speak on this matter as I have lived experience.
In the mythology a Doppelgänger is a malevolent double; a person’s negative self or inverse. But this is not necessarily the case. It is possible that the Doppelgänger is a benevolent double, a twin or simply a mirror image. The mythology also tells that meeting one’s Doppelgänger will augur the moment of death, or even to cause the death.
What many people don’t understand is that both person and Doppelgänger are real. The Doppelgänger is not a ‘spirit double’, a ghost or supernatural entity. Both person and Doppelgänger are equally real, such that we can dispute which is the ‘original’ and which is that ‘double’.
For both to meet does have its risks, one of which is a potential merge as we find in the story told here, but by no means does every encounter have destructive consequences.

Jim Simm 2019

 

This is a MICROtract, part of MICROcities. Jim Simm is an unreliable narrator.

Tract:
An area of land.
A publication, a brochure.

© 2019 Jim Simm.

For a hard copy of any SOUNDkiosk Tracts, email Jim Simm: jim DOT soundkiosk AT gmail DOT com

MICROtract 19.1: Holmes Bridge(s) at Ropewalk / St. Mark’s

Tract 18.2: 5 Interzones, Sincil Dyke at Titanic Building / Great Northern Terrace.

Location: Lincoln, England
bind.remind.deals (what3words)
Sat:53.225309, -0.528765

That first day, my first Psycho Jog to Great Northern Terrace, I thought I would be walking a long way so I began with a bus to the temporary bus station at Tentercroft Street. Then by foot, I crossed the bridge over Sincil Dyke, under Pelham Bridge and on to Great Northern Terrace. We will meet Sincil Dyke again further downstream.

Pedestrian access only on one side of Great Northern Terrace with, every few metres, an entrance/vehicle access to business premises. The road, the area, seems lawless. Cars travel as if there is no longer a speed limit. Large vehicles turn into premises without hesitation. Pedestrians jump forward or back to secure their safety on the precarious footway.
I felt a sense of fear that day as the opposite, northern side of the road is commanded by a tall, long, green cast iron wall.

Why fear?

Well, first, being in the presence of large, imposing, industrial, machine-era objects or buildings. Secondly, not knowing its original, nor its current purpose. Then, what is it shielding or protecting? Which side am I on, the protected side or the protected-from?
In its presence my fear is of these three unknowns.

I could check Google Earth but I don’t.

My perception of time and distance is distorted, my pace seems to slow down. Is this a reasonable response to an edgeland location?

An area opens up to the left, that is, across the road. There is a parking area. I can now see what is behind the tall, long, green cast iron wall. Then, to the right, there are railway sidings (two tracks). A small area with white plastic chairs and a table with a plastic red gingham cloth. There is an entrance to a bus depot/garage. Just a little to the right a bridge crosses Sincil Dyke (also known as Sincil Dike and Sincil Drain). Half way across the bridge I look down at the water, my first view of Sincil Dyke at this point. As I look ahead I see a vast industrial era building and I quickly get a sense of being in the right place for a new Waterways of Lincoln project.

Of this general area, the Lincoln Townscape Assessment (2009) tells us:

[The area’s] use for industry and large out-of-town retail has been influenced by its position on the floodplain as this has left the area relatively undeveloped in comparison with other areas in such close proximity to the city centre.

Buildings are predominantly detached and situated in their own plots, but there are also a few rows of attached properties, and some groups of buildings within industrial estates

Due to its location between the built-up area of the city and its rural fringe there are rural views along the river and drain corridors, views onto the rural south escarpment, and views to the north east onto the Cathedral and upper city on the north escarpment.

These short excerpts describe an area of classic edgelands.

Sincil Dyke lkng NW

Several buses pass, entering the bus depot behind me. The noise seems to be concentrated here, and their sound and their speed disturbs me. Partly through noise, partly through a localising, enclosed quality which is dominant here, the place seems unsettled, trapped by its own topography.

[Aside]
The bus driver told me, by way of a warning, never to get tattoos on my forearms: “You’ll never be able to wear short sleeved shirts again, unless, maybe, you’re going to some… tattoo convention… something like that.” This was some time ago and I wonder sometimes if he still holds such a strong opinion on this. Last time I saw him he was working on the checkouts in Waitrose.
This was some years ago and it seems tattoos are much more socially acceptable than even just 10 years ago.

Back to my present, standing in the middle of the bridge.
Ahead of me is the Titanic Building, now known as Witham Park House. ‘Titanic Building’ is a much better name than ‘Witham Park House’. This is self evident.
Another noise and turning back on myself again I immediately realise that the railway sidings are in a direct line ahead. That is, it seems immediately apparent that this bridge was built to carry a rail line over the Dyke. This would make sense as the Titanic Building, built for heavy industry, would need railway access.

Permeability and vitality are terms used to describe the characteristics of an urban space.
“Permeability describes the extent to which urban forms permit (or restrict) movement of people and vehicles in different directions”. (Wikipedia at 26/9/2018)
“In the context of urban planning, [the] vitality of a place is its capacity to grow or develop its liveliness and level of economic activity”. (Wikipedia. Same date)

A few words on permeability and vitality from Lincoln Townscape Assessment, and some personal thoughts:

Permeability is limited as the river, drain, railway lines and major road of Broadgate/Pelham Bridge are all large, linear barriers with few crossing points that restrict both pedestrian and vehicular access from one area into another

The edgelands of my childhood were areas of possibility and opportunity. They resonated and, as a result, they shimmered. But the possibility and the opportunity are always obscure, they have to be discerned by a capable mind. Through discernment, a capable mind found in possibility and opportunity a hope of escape, and a liberation was achieved.

Vitality in the Character Area is fairly high due to the numbers of staff and visitors using the area but this is mainly confined to business hours. Some leisure-related uses have extended business hours such as the gymnasium and go-karting centre.

Our location would at first appear to be limiting, a trap, but what we really need to do is to see its potential for liberation while keeping in mind what the Townscape Project informs us about vitality and permeability. The opportunities may well lie outside business hours, and the liberation is one of time, not a topographical escape route, or at least a possibility of one.

Great Northern Terrace is a classic road to nowhere, but as we sidestep it to reach our location we are stepping onto an ancient path which followed Sincil Dyke (also known at this place as the South Delph) as far as South Lincolnshire.

Sincil Dyke lkng S

It’s worth spending a while to consider local ley lines. Ley lines undoubtedly exist.
Our ancestral wisdom tells us that it is wise and more convenient to make a journey from A to B by the shortest and most direct route. This alone could explain the abundance of ley lines in Britain, especially those linking settlements and sites of ritual.

At a number of sites in the vicinity there is a distinct feel of intense earth energy. This sense of intense energy certainly seems to be concentrated at our location. There are a number of meeting points and crossing points here: A complex road junction, the bridge across the dyke, a railway sidings which originally continued over the bridge, access to the bus depot, and complex, uneasy, pedestrian access in a number of directions, precarious and unsafe. A site significant in the ancient world has been empowered and intensified by post-industrial development. It is secret, occult knowledge that our location is at the crossing of ley lines. This was recently confirmed by expert dowsing and I am told this is confirmation specifically of the intensity of the location’s water energy, and that this is stronger than any local earth energy.

What is apparent is that any ley lines of water energy would not be linear. Is it possible that the ancient symbol of the serpent, found in some earthworks, is a reference to water energy and to fluid, non-linear leys? Does it seem more likely that fluid, water ley lines, like water itself would follow the path of least resistance, rather than the most direct route?

At the nearby Monk’s Abbey, now a ruin, there is the site of a chalybeate spring. That is, a spring noted for being rich in iron. Gutch and Peacock (Folk-lore Concerning Lincolnshire, 1908) say: “There is a valuable chalybeate spring apparently connected with what was once ‘Monk’s Abbey,’ which is dedicated to St. Mary Magdalen. It is popularly esteemed for its cures of ‘bad legs’ and other physical troubles.”

The spring, when following a downhill course off Lincoln’s escarpment would flow into our watercourse system which includes both the River Witham and Sincil Dyke. The intense water energy survives despite canalizing and rerouting of the waterways themselves over the years.

Clearly more research needs to be done in this area.

[Aside]
We need to be aware that most stone circles and other stone monuments in England are found towards the west of the country. This is because most henges and circles in the east were wooden and have been lost. With the loss of ancient sites we have lost some leys.

Maps and records do show that railway lines were removed in a number of locations, including the crossing of Sincil Dyke.

Wherever railway lines are removed a residual fear remains, a result of rain, steam and speed. Many places with lost railway lines retain the ghost of the line, they were developed as picturesque walks, but the lines were ‘axed’, leaving scars on the land. Beeching’s legacy.

Part of the lost history of the area is very recent history. In an ‘historic’ city like Lincoln we find more attention devoted to the Roman, Medieval and Victorian periods, but increasingly this is catching up with the present.
Elements of post industrial histories were not considered worthy of record and were left to living memory alone. The unimportant remains unrecorded, leaving histories of absence.

In Voice of the Fire (page 306), Alan Moore refers back to earlier chapters:

“Although at times unnerving, this was always the intention, this erasing of a line dividing the incontrovertible from the invented. History, unendingly revised and reinterpreted, is seen upon examination as merely a different class of fiction; becomes hazardous if viewed as having any innate truth beyond this. Still, it is a fiction that we must inhabit. Lacking any territory that is not subjective, we can only live upon the map. All that remains in question is whose map we choose, whether we live within the world’s insistent texts or else replace them with a stronger language of our own.”

In all honesty, I can only offer histories of the present; histories which become place in a seamless progression of nows. Histories of place, or histories as place. And without ambiguities, without uncertainties, without doubts, there really is no point to exploring the edgelands.

In order to take Gertrude Stein’s “there is no there there” into a new context, I need my chosen locations to be in No-place: Utopia. If I know where I am, city centre, suburbia, countryside, without ambiguity, then I’m no longer there. Lincoln High Street follows an ancient route but is no utopia.

Jim Simm 2018

 

This is a Tract, part of Waterways of Lincoln. This part of the project, 5 Interzones includes music by Jamie Crofts, actions in the form of walks (Treks) and word works by Jim Simm (Tracts). Jim Simm is an unreliable narrator.

Tract:
An area of land.
A publication, a brochure.

© 2018 Jamie Crofts.

For a hard copy of any SOUNDkiosk Tracts, email Jim Simm: jim DOT soundkiosk AT gmail DOT com

Tract 18.2: 5 Interzones, Sincil Dyke at Titanic Building / Great Northern Terrace.

Little Tract 3: Holmes Road & Far Wharf

Location: Lincoln, England
range.badge.finds to parts.unrealistic.jams (what3words)
Sat:53.230551, -0.548961

23rd Oct 2017 is a cold Autumn day. Air is a mist of rain. That is, it’s damp. I pass through here on the way to the High Street or to cross the road bridge to Tritton Road roundabout and beyond.
From Foss Bank, I walk along Far Wharf and come to Holmes Road on the left before passing under the Brayford Way road bridge. That’s my most frequented route.

Emotion 25: Contented – in a state of peaceful happiness or satisfaction.
Emotion 11: Apprehensive – anticipating something with anxiety or fear. *

Holmes Road runs north/south from Carholme Road (north) to the water’s edge (south). The eastern side, the Brayford Way bridge has a concrete, solid edge with an area of brick-bound soft estate and, with a concrete footway, has a high albedo. The western side is almost all brick; Hayes Wharf and the much older building, College Mews, warming the road with the morning light.

Unlisted emotion: Traumoil – trauma induced turmoil.

Holmes Road has been truncated (or docked?) in a number of ways:

  1. Vehicle access is now limited in length to reach only as far as the rear of Haye’s Wharf student accommodation building. There are just two kerbside parking spaces. It is, however, perfectly legal to park anywhere in a city if two of the vehicle’s wheels are on a footway.
  2. Holmes Road is named after an area south of the waterway and at one time it connected to The Holmes (or Holmes Common) via a drawbridge, removed in 1996. The Holmes is the area now occupied by the main campus of the University of Lincoln. Previously an area of railway lines, sidings, sheds and warehouses. Before then, watery common land partly drained only by the delph drain.
  3. Energy once flowed north/south via road and bridge but is now blocked (or docked?) from crossing at a now complex pedestrian/cycle junction as Holmes Road reaches the water. Holmes Road meets Far Wharf and an unnamed thoroughfare that passes under the road bridge. With energy flow curtailed (or docked?) here, cyclists use the pedestrian-only Far Wharf and pedestrians walk in the cycle lane, so conflict can more easily be provoked and bike rage is not unknown having even led to one death.
    A thorough movement assessment may be needed.
    This is the point at which the waterway widens and at which it could well be claimed that the Foss Dyke Navigation (canal) becomes Lincoln’s inland port, the Brayford Pool.

 

Holmes Road.jpg

Emotion 74: Lonely – sad because one has no friends or company; solitary; unfrequented and remote. *

Far Wharf is unmarked by name at any point, has a pedestrian only access, and has a concrete wall and the canal to one side with housing to the other. A local resident of 83, born and lived in the immediate area since birth tells us Far Wharf is known as Town End. One day we met while walking beside the Brayford Pool when she asked: “Is it true that the Brayford [Pool] doesn’t have a bottom?” I don’t know how to reply and say: Erm.” Our local resident takes this as a cue to continue: “Is it true that it goes on for ever?” I say that I don’t think it is very deep at all, perhaps only a few feet. She seems satisfied by this and doesn’t pursue it any further. But I am left thinking that, some 80 years ago, she was told this by adults to warn her not to go near the water and it had stayed with her ever since.

Jim Simm 2017

“Holmes Road was laid out in the 19th century and led to a public wharf and a drawbridge (removed in 1996) giving access to the Holmes.”
Lincoln Townscape Assessment, Brayford Inherited Character Area Statement, October 2008.

It’s replacement, the Brayford Bridge (Brayford Way) opened in 1997. Its 20th anniversary (2017) was neither marked nor celebrated.

Emotion 74: Lonely – sad because one has no friends or company; solitary; unfrequented and remote. *

* Emotions Defined from Mapping Weird Stuff blog with the additional emotion of ‘traumoil’ by Jim Simm

This is a Little Tract, part of the Little Cities project. Little Cities is an arts based,
deep-topographical, exploration of the edgelands of the City of  Lincoln in England.
Little Cities projects include electronic music (Little Tracks) for battery powered synths by Jamie Crofts, actions in the form of walks (Little Treks) and word works by Jim Simm (Little Tracts). Jim Simm is an unreliable narrator.

Tract:
An area of land.
A publication, a brochure.

Little Tracts is a SOUNDkiosk
project. © 2017 Jamie Crofts.

For a hard copy of any Little Tracts, email Jamie Crofts: kiosk4sound AT gmail DOT com

Little Tract 3: Holmes Road & Far Wharf