Writing, Walking & Daily Rituals

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12.10.2020

Writing up observations from my recent walks

23rd September 2020

Turning a conker in my hands I walk my usual loop of Edgbaston in twilight drizzle, passing by the regulars who walk the neighbourhood at the same time as me each evening. Dressed in trousers and coats rather than shorts and t-shirts, the seasons are changing but the ritual remains the same. Deep in the bellies of the Georgian mansions, lights illuminate front rooms and hallways, making the grand homes up long driveways and behind tall gates look ever so domestic and inviting.

25th September 2020

My hair wet at the nape of my neck from swimming, I walk home from the pool at rush hour. Beneath my feet fallen leaves, a dead pigeon, and discarded face masks litter the pavement, and at every entrance to a public building sits a hastily erected noticeboard emblazoned with a large QR code for the government’s latest attempt at a test & trace app. In amongst the detritus of a plague year, lampposts are decked with fresh posters erected by the Young Socialists. This sign of normality and of earnest youth and belief in a better, more egalitarian society makes me smile as it is a scene that would have been as everyday in 1968 and 2008 as it is in 2020.

A red Polo creeps up the hill, the air thick with the scent of burnt clutch, but I overtake it at a brisk walking pace. Dance music pulses from the car stereo, growing louder then softer as we trade places in staggered steps to the crossroads at the summit of the hill. On the parcel shelf, a multipack of disposable facemasks.

Private school children mill around, shoulder to shoulder with one another as soon as they’re out of the school gates, dressed for afternoon sport, school blazers over PE kits, sports bags thrown lazily across their backs. Meanwhile, on Elvetham, 2020 registration people carriers sit double parked on double yellows all the way up the hill to pick up children dressed like Enid Blyton characters, caps, hats and all, from another of Edgbaston’s many private schools. In the middle of an economic crisis the likes of which we haven’t experienced for at least a generation, life goes on as normal in this corner of the city.

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