The interest in “adventures beyond the front door” that eventually led to the creation of Under a Grey Sky, and the idea that you need not be in a National Park to enjoy the outdoors, has been developed not only by the getting out there and doing it, but by flicking through the pages of books – such as Rebecca Solnit’s wonderful Wanderlust or Edgelands by Paul Farley and Michael Symmons Roberts– as well as reading essays online, listening to podcasts, and even watching the occasional film.
These virtual adventures beyond someone else’s front door led me to the Ventures and Adventures radio show presented by John Rogers and Nick Papadimitriou – also available to download as a podcast – as they explored the outer reaches of London using old walking guides, or simply the interests of the two presenters, whether it was the Brent Cross shopping centre or the North Middlesex/South Hertfordshire Escarpment, otherwise known as Scarp and the title and subject (or starting point) of Papadimitriou’s book which currently sits in my to-read pile.
Through the podcasts the presenters discuss the subject of “Deep Topography”, which they prefer over Psychogeography as a term to explain what it is they are doing as they make their explorations. They are getting to know a place, a corner of their city, trying to understand the history and the geography, searching for hidden or lost rivers or the route of underground sewage systems, the lost pleasure gardens of north London or the “debatable land” around Euston station, and listening to the podcasts and their approach to the explorations it made me think again about the places I was exploring in Berlin and beyond. They also mentioned a film that Rogers had made about Papadimitriou, which is now available to watch in its entirety online, and which you will find below. I can only recommend both the podcasts and the film, as Rogers and Papadimitriou are fine companions who will make you think more about your own surroundings as they explore the deep topography of their own.
Well I suppose someone had to eventually come up with a term to replace the oft-used psychogeography tag. I prefer ‘Deep Topography’ myself as I think it comes closer in meaning to what its true subject matter is. I’ve yet to read Papadimitriou’s book – it looks fascinating although perhaps you need to know the territory (Middlesex) on some level for it to yield much meaning.
Hi Laurence. Yep, the book is sitting on my desk right now and everything I have read about it suggests that it will be a unique piece of work. I don’t know the territory at all, but then again these are the same type of places they explored in the podcasts and I found them fascinating anyway. I guess that comes down to the talent of the writer, and the ability to conjure up the essence of a place in the mind of someone who will never see it with their own eyes. Great piece on Yugoslav hotels by the way!
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