Tag Archives: Canada Water Station
Last night an event entitled Writing In Situ, held in Lecture Room One at the Royal College of Art, brought to light several points of interest regarding the craft of writing, and the physicality of place.
The speakers (Jane Rendell, Sally O’Reilly, and Brian Dillion) spoke with depth of knowledge about issues concerning critical situatedness, the specificity of descriptive encounters of place, fictitious devices in describing place, the portrayal of the absent as well as the present, misrepresentation and authenticity, creating accurate clichés, interdisciplinarity, the performance of writing, literary sausage churning, writing as production; and many other difficult terms and words (some of which, I have discovered, are invented. But that’s fine, I support invented words).
I remember specifically little of what was said, but generally what I did take from the discussion was that places and writing have a relationship.
I walked away from the lecture room equipped with this newfound knowledge, and made my way to a long and desolate underground tunnel, which promised to lead me to the nearest Tube station. I continued to think about the relationship between writers and places.
Places force their mark onto people. Inarguably, they lend influence to everything we do, and everything we create. Their mark is lasting. All of our memories are tied to a place. Trying to think of a memory without its physical architecture, I believe, is impossible. My question is; how do people force their mark onto places? And once they do, how do they ensure it stays there?
I self-ask this question as I continue to walk, slightly unnervingly, along the tunnel’s way. This tunnel will forget instantly that I ever walked through it. I have no real way of marking it, short of creating a vandalistic impression, littering, or spitting on the floor; all actions which my character does not permit me to enforce.
I think of a number of places I have walked in and upon, and wonder if my doing so in any way changed their inherent character. I try to think of how they did so to mine:
Milner Street imbued me with a sense of good values, being host to my grandmother’s home where I leant about being kind to people and to never waste my food.
The Park (opposite Wembley’s Garage) coloured my adolescence with cheap wine, exaggerated swearing, and puppy love dramatics.
BJs Bar gave me the first inklings of discovering my actual character, and sparked an unrelenting passion for dimly-lit, acoustic gigs.
The Tree Cluster (outside my college) brought self-revelation, being the gathering space for my best friends and I in the years when we first fell in love, when we first realized we might become good-looking, when we first thought about whether we were gay or straight.
Ferro Bay provided hours of female banter, and burnt skin.
Canada Water Underground Station gave me a real feeling of independence, utter fear, and an unchartered terrain of melancholy.
That Hill in Hampstead with its pretty doors and chimneys, brought realization that I will probably never be rich, yet will always posses the facility to be happy.
The Tunnel (leading to the nearest station) made me understand that there are some types of lonelinesses that are palpable, and that tunnels are a dramatic, material metaphor for substantiating that very palpability.
And here I see that prophetic light at the end of the tunnel. It spells out South Kensington Station. I’m about to leave this specific place, and finally, I have found a way to mark it. I have also found the coherence in all of the night’s academic speak.
Writers have a special relationship with places because they can immortalize them in text. So while places will forever furnish memories, writers will immortalize their descriptions, and inject into their metaphysical characters new dimensions of their importance.