Planes, Drains And Autonomy.

This is complicated, so stay with me.  Sit down, I want to discuss this.  Sit.  

When walking down any typical street in the UK, you’ll find big, square drain covers on the pavement; either on their own or grouped into pairs or triplets, consecutive to each other.  Usually, they are covering something electrical or a gas pipe or something, I dunno, not important.  Now these nondescript, grey oblongs have hidden powers – the power to grant you luck. 

It’s all done according to point scoring.  If you tread on a single, you lose a luck point.  If you walk on a double (and you have to walk on them individually, without your foot crossing the cracks) you gain a luck point.  If you walk across a triplet, all points are reset.  Now, this can be good and bad.  If your current tally for the day states that you’ve walked on four singles and one double, that means you are on minus three luck points, so you’ll probably get hit by a bus any moment.  Walking on a triplet will reset you to zero.  If, however, you’ve done the reverse – you’ve walked on four doubles and one single, you’ll be on plus three luck points.  And they could all be flushed away in a moment of negligence if you are not looking where you are walking.  It’s simple.  Walk on the double drain covers.  Avoid the singles.  Only use the triplets if you’ve been barged onto too many singles.  Thus, you can dictate how your day will go. 

I mean…

…no, stay sitting…

…have you ever heard such a crock of shite in your life?  Such a load of absolute bollocks, such piffle.  At least palm readers and astrologists can hide behind the unknown (not that I agree with their ‘you prove it doesn’t work’ argument), but the idea that councils deliberately lay down Luck Manhole Covers, for the general populus to use for their day?  It’s insane. 

I was told this theory by someone I dated when I was sixteen.  I know her name, but I can barely remember her face.  I can’t remember what her voice sounds like.  I can’t remember a single conversation we had.  I can’t remember a kiss.  But I can remember her superstition about drain covers.  And I will step into the road to avoid the wrong ones.  I’m not kidding.  I did it today. 

At this point, if I was any kind of professional blogger, I would probably launch into a monologue about the echoes that people leave us with, but I’m not.  Although echoes, in their finest tradition, will come back before I click on ‘Publish Post.’

I make it my goal, now that I am in a new area with disposable income and a job with irregular hours, to go exploring at every opportunity.  I’m getting to know, and love, Newcastle.  Perched up in a high eyrie with a glass of wine, watching people nearly get run over by buses, it was nice to feel part of a strangely disorientated organism again.  Newcastle is a bit like the rebound relationship unfortunately – my favourite parts of the city are the bits that remind me of London – but that shouldn’t dilute it’s undeniable character.  It’s me (as usual) that has the problem.  Also, the seagulls sound different in Newcastle.  It must be the accent. 

I watched Calvary yesterday, a film with humour as black as any of Chris Morris’ worst cynicism.  It’s a masterpiece really, with some amazing pieces of dialogue starting with the oft-reported opening line, which is every bit as eye widening and incendary as the hype has allowed.  As with Under The Skin last month, I left the cinema almost literally reeling.  A couple of Jack’n’Cokes in the cinema bar beforehand had steadied my resolve, but by the end of the film I was punch drunk and only that.  I stumbled back to the train station over paving slabs that had given me no trouble before.

I went to Middlesbrough today, and took my usual route.  To MIMA (Middlesbrough Institute (of) Modern Art), followed by a few shops, a bar stop and back to the coast.  There was an unusual and fantastic exhibit on.  People on board flights had been invited to take a pencil and place it gently on the plain back of a sick bag.  As the plane reverberated through take off and landing, the pencil would be held relatively loosely taking in the bumps and jolts.  What you were left with was a line of fucked up cardiographs, demonstrating a history of smooth landings and rough take offs.  I liked it because I used to do exactly the same thing as a kid in the back of my dad’s car.  Whenever we were travelling somewhere, I’d get a pen or pencil and hold it gently over a piece of paper.  My idea was that I could ‘draw’ the surface of the road according to the bumps from the car.  I could take in the sudden braking and the swerves.  It was a piece of nonsense designed to occupy myself during a long journey, now hanging up in a gallery. 

Echoes.  I told you they’d be back.  They always are. 

If you ever come to Middlesbrough, I suggest making a visit to the library.  The reference room is a masterpiece of old wood, hyperbolic architecture and elitism.  It smells just like your old school gym used to smell after the floor had been polished and a century of sweat and skin flakes had been released into the miasma.  Old tomes stare at you behind glass cabinets.  The entire building is one of those great examples of Victorian/Edwardian Philanthropy – the kind of ostentatious charity where the donors want everyone to know about their ‘anonymous’ gift.  Speaking of which, on the way back to the train station I chatted to the Big Issue seller who got five pounds towards his new flat deposit.  The poor guy was fighting a losing battle against a female busker with a transparent violin whom I’d seen in Newcastle the previous day.  “You’re the first person to stop today.  She’s just too fucking good.”  It was 2.30 in the afternoon. 

What disappointed me over the past two days wandering two large cities, was the lack of a connection.  I always have in the back of my mind an infamous suicide note found in the apartment of someone who’d jumped off the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco.  It said “if one person smiles at me on the way, I won’t jump.”  I’m a terrible people watcher, although I don’t think I have the face of a serial killer.  I like making eye contact with people and smiling at them.  Not in an ‘I’m going to eviscerate you’ way, more a ‘hello, you are a human being, so am I, I hope you are well’ sort of way.  In two full days of wandering around two metropolises, not one person lifted their eyes from the ground.  


7 comments on “Planes, Drains And Autonomy.

  1. sknicholas says:

    Does Newcastle air taste any different from Dunstable air?

    • jimmicampkin says:

      There is something under the surface worth scratching in Newcastle. A possibility. With Dunstable, it’s like trying to scratch a piece of marble. You’re just dragging your fingernails over something without leaving a mark.

  2. raishimi33 says:

    I would like to visit the place of my paternal ancestors. To finally find a Spellman on a gravestone.

    I kept thinking of Evil Eye, when you mentioned the eyrie.

    This was the literary equivalent of one of your photos, or rather a set, shuffled out like a deck of cards. I’d like to say ‘tarot’, but I’m hopeless at reading 😉

  3. The beginning of this reminds me of my ex, she was obsessed with not walking on tripple-drain covers, I used to wind her up by walking on them on purpose.

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