One of the reasons it’s taking us so long to get started on this walk is we’re self-conscious about the Start of the journey – where should it begin?
The first thought was King’s Cross Station, let’s begin there, circle around the redevelopments at the back of the station, skim the canal, come down through Regent’s Park and collide with the busyness of central north London. King’s Cross has energy, movement, and a curving foyer like a slingshot. It’s a point of transit, not least from trains arriving at Saint Pancras from France, by extension Marseille, the site of another detour. You arrive, vous arrivez à la gare and whoosh, you’re on another journey spiralling through London to Gravesend.
But that’s arbitrary, why King’s Cross, why not Waterloo, or Paddington, or any other place? I liked King’s Cross because I’m every morning there on my way to work, so another destination, another path, another angle, would be interesting to me. Not necessarily anyone else.
A common suggestion was to start at the Centre of London but this turns out to be an ad hoc convention too. Trafalgar Square is the designated centre – when a road sign says London 25 m it means twenty five miles to Trafalgar Square. So I’ve read. I’m not speaking definitively here. Some of us liked the idea that the whole spiral could be visualised as an imaginary line joined taut to Nelson’s Column, unwinding step by step, metre by metre. But our actual memory of the place did not feel invigorating; the Square is a destination, a sink, rather than a source, a springboard to a new understanding. Sure, pass it on your journey, swoop through it, but start there? Is it the centre anyway? I read on a website [citation required] that the Army had calculated the centre of London using some other mathematics and postulated a place some 900 metres towards the Embankment. Someone else [citation] had used population density. But these also are arbitrary, what is a city centre? Piccadilly Circus is more of a centre. Should we start a walk there?
Another suggestion was Cleopatra’s Needle on the Thames. It has that anchor point quality of the invisible wire. It is also right on the River, and our destination is on the river too, and the circumference of each spiral is determined by the crossing points of the river. Maybe that would be a good place to begin.
So to find out we’re starting on Sunday 8 March 2015 on a walk that will take in all these places, and we’ll make a judgement, and I hope a decision for the proper Start of the Walk. Meet at 1.30 by Nelson’s Column, see you there.