Grand Derive reports from 20.11.04
The following derives were undertaken using an algorithm of 2nd Right, 2nd Right, 1st Left, Repeat. This algorithm was first used in experiments by Social Fiction in 2001. It seemed appropriate for this exercise as it would force us to explore the seemingly mundane corners of Wycombe's small but diverse urban realm.
The Mayor of High Wycombe complete with sold gold chain of office sees us off on our way from a rainy Bridge Street carpark. I elected to head east. Maybe it was a spiritual pull towards the Rye. Found a spot roughly in the middle of the carpark so that I’d be able to return to the spot and repeat the exercise in two years when the TCR is finished, it was opposite Leywood House on Denmark Street.....There are steps leading up and we follow the path to its logical conclusion which is the door of no.25. Dead end. But there is a bank and wooden fence then fields. I hit the fellas with the choice - jump over the fence or go back. I ponder for a second and realise that the only way to go is over the fence, it’s a barrier, it says don’t go here an artificial demarcation of space, a provocation. The fields are calling me and also I’m intrigued by how the algorithm will behave in the woods.There is always a defining moment in a derive when it takes off, jumping over the fence was that moment, we are now in the grip of the fugue.
West End Road - We’re drawn to a low slightly knackered panel fence behind is a yard of rubble with a front door dying lying flat in the middle and a couch to one side like a house has exploded. A potent smell of hash is in the air and we joke that an enormous brick of hash caused the house to explode.
Short Street - Anodyne blocks, Diametrics Medical, vintage ford van that I photo then opposite I spy a classic public loo standing alone on the opposite side of the street. The more I look at it the more it appears perfect in its symmetry, a perfect building, dropped from the sky, on either side its square orange lights glow, it looks Soviet, what is it doing here, it exudes a strong smell of public loo. JJ and David are impressed, in Brighton it would be closed down due to ‘misuse’. I reassure them that it’s probably the offices of some of the local prostitutes.
We’re facing and enormous slab building - VERNON BUILDING - that I feel I’ve seen in a dream, reminds me of something I’ve drifted past in Ultimo, Sydney - the printing presses of the Sydney Morning Herald and I remember thinking back then as I first explored those streets of industrial central sydney how it put me in mind of Wycombe, even the pubs were vaguely Wycombesque.
this is an abridged version of the grand derive report, the full text will be published in January 2005
Leave bridge street car park with lorna, all hopes of derive dashed as she just wants me to go home with her to see her studio. Anyhow, try to grasp some sense of algorithum. Cross the road by Morissons and meet an old German lad who recognises Lorna – chat about old days. Agree to leave Lorna and see her studio another time.
So head back to re-start derive from bridge street and head north up Bellfield Road. 2nd right into Parker Knoll way – choice – do I take the tarmac’d pedestrian path or the muddy one cutting the corner – take muddy path.
Cross the road as it curves around Morrisons as I feel this will ensure I continue north for my next right turn. The guard on the the gate at Morrisons looks bored and flicks his cigarette out of the window of his portakabin.
This area has changed, it looks all clean and respectable and I can’t remember what was here before.
Follow Chinese couples’ footsteps laden with shopping. Road still hugs Morrisons and about to seize 2nd right and notice its an enticing alleyway – how lucky is that. It looks like it may lead to arcadia! Cross the road, traffic swarming, slight hesitation about being alone and walking up said inviting alley – think about muggings etc. Immediately as I start to walk up the alleyway, the hum of the traffic fades and its quiet and peaceful. The alley is boarded by back gardens and Industrial Estate.
Old derelict, unloved, green, river wye, remenants of the past, quiet. Hooded lad, eyes down, I look over my shoulder. End of Alley.
Out onto Hughenden Avenue. 1st left and up and up into Hughenden Ave.
2nd right leads up steps, looks promising again going up and up but no, a dead end but with views of the valley below and sheep grazing in the distance. Turn around and back onto Hughenden Ave. Up, Up Up I can’t keep on going up I’ll never get back to the car park.
Buck the Algorithum
Cross the road and head back down. Residential, Allen roofing van, quiet.
2nd right down alleyway with a sign of a swan on it. Down down, I could be walking the woods in Beaconsfield (quiet, leafy), down down, down back to Industrial estate and Morrison gleaming in front.
2nd right leads straight into doorway of Morrisons.
Tea and cake and first left out into the car park.
1.30pm leave car park. 5 slow
Edge of dovecot woman in Merc locked the door as I stood there.
13:35 under the whirl. Subway mouth organist, bring back my bonnie to me to me
left under the xmas lights, past mens fashions for immediate hire and then past the shameless façade of Totes bookies. 10 men standing around smoking and staring at screens. Girl shouts oi! From boyfriends lowered red peugot 305.
Right on bell lane, Coral. Younger clientele on fruit machines. One woman. 13:45 first dead end. Cashpoint stop “that’s got no money in it”.
13:48 second dead end. Enter the Octagon, left turn, Allsport, right at Boots and Virgin, right 50, craft market, herbal remedies, lava lamps and celtic towels.
Left by station, right 13:55, back at car park.
Left, Mendy Street, right, reliant parts, right university laundry, left 14:00 avoiding turn by one otherwise it would repeat, the enormous job centre. A little bit of river. Right 14:08 The Pastures, under bridge, zone ends.
Right up alley, thank god that hill was huge, up steps into residential, no. 28
Left up hill, panoramic hills, camera runs out so using mine. That was Wyatt Close. 14:15 Right to Garretts Way, Right Wren Vale leading to Hawksmoor Close, hope its not on the left. It wasn’t but Wren Vale was a dead end too. Take my left at which sparks has signed (collect stencil).
Right turn back onto Garrett and down past Ripley Close. Right down steps, I’ve escaped.
14:29 cheated. Took another right, left would have taken me back into the estate, down alley past tile showroom. Left between Jewsons and Morrisons. Jewsons alarm going off.
14:32 Derive stopped.