John Walker's Electronic House

by on Jun.08, 2005, under The Rest

In twenty five years of living in Guildford, the only really weird thing I remember seeing was a man driving around a roundabout on a sofa. Now, granted, that’s fairly weird. But living in Bath, I see something like that almost every day.

In fact, were I to get around to writing about these sights on every occurrance, I might have something approaching a regularly updated blog. And were I able to fathom how to transfer photos from my mobile phone to my computer, I’d be able to illustrate these things beautifully. I’m finally getting around to writing something about it today, because I’ve just watched, from my balcony, a group of eight hot-air balloons all attempting to bump into each other at once.

I love Bath. I really love it, in a genuine way. Nowhere else has thunderstorms like it. Nowhere is as capable of having every trend and anti-trend cohabit the same entirely peculiar places. And nowhere else, that I’ve seen at least, has full-size hot-air balloons flying as low as they possibly can, deliberately trying to bang into one another. Unless X-Ballooning is a new craze that has passed me by, I’m not sure this is the usual activity for what I had always previously perceived to be the most sedate form of travel. When I saw the first two hit, I gasped and wondered if they were ok. When I saw them coming around for another go, I realised all was not as it seemed. Another, higher up, immediately descended to join in, while another that had gone so low it actually landed popped back up to make four. They all drifted slightly apart, and then, with the sort of snail speed that made the whole thing a fantastic farce, collided in the middle.

Another example. A few weeks back I was walking back from the train station, and up Walcott Street (which I assume is built on the convergence point of about thirty-seven lunatic-inducing laylines). On the right, about two thirds of the way up, there’s a small, seemingly abandoned, chapel. There’s usually a black iron gate preventing any unsolicited prayer, but for the last few weeks it has been host to a series of increasingly strange art exhibits. For instance, a couple of weeks ago it played host to an array of entirely knitted items of full-size household furniture. Including a knitted toilet, sporting a knitted toilet roll. But that’s not the weird thing I bring this up to mention. He was far weirder.

On this particular day, before I’d known about any of the exhibits, I saw a man out of the corner of my eye. At first I thought it was someone in some sort of quiet distress, standing on the very edge of the pavement, face pointed at the gutter. But this was still just a corner-of-the-eye glance. A double-take later and I saw a man of indeterminate age, wearing a suit, long black coat and black fedora hat, holding a briefcase. He was indeed staring into the gutter, his face completely without expression. Motionless. And then I read the white writing on the briefcase:

this is | you
not a | are
dream | awake

And I began to wonder.

That’s my Bath. A place that offers things that might otherwise only receive their manifestation within dreams. But I am awake.

5 Comments for this entry

  • AK

    Bath *is* a special town.

    Sometimes the weather/light/ambience blends in such a way that you feel like you’re walking through a scene from a particularly beautiful film.

    Walking home one morning (about 4am), the entire place was deserted and silent save for *swarms* of yelping seagulls. Like they’d taken over the town.

    Very Hitchcockian and very surreal.

    There’s no place like it.

  • milko

    I saw some lifesize knitted furniture thing in an exhibition at the Crafts Council last month, I wonder if it’s the same person. It was indoors in a gallery though, which sounds a lot less fun.

  • Rev. S Campbell

    Oh, those Russians!

    Wait, I mean “ladies”.

  • Chiarina

    ps You can get pictures from your phone onto your computer by texting them as a multimedia message/email to your email account. Easy! They come out good too. Yesterday a Tibetan monk helped me home with my shopping. I love Oxford to bits, but I think I wouldn’t mind living in Bath at all.