!!!!!CAUTION! THIS IS NOT A GUIDED TOUR!!!!!
Saturday 21st June-----Housman’s Bookshop, Caledonian Road, Kings Cross N1.
SAVAGE MESSIAH/ WE ARE BAD COLLECTIVE
NIGHT DRIFT: TRACING THE PATH OF THE RIVER FLEET:
Meet at the bookshop 7pm, will embark on drift approx 10pm.
Lubetkinestates Bevin^Lenin court / proto-coppers offed at the Calthorpe / gastropub vandalism / Kurdish communists / Chartist insurrection/ St. Bartholomew’s fair /rioting mobs / Wat Tyler / Smithfield all night cafs /licensing loopholes/ Blackfriars / Bologna bombings / Rimbaud and Verlaine.
BRING: old maps, booze, lighter fuel, ropes, chalk, codeine.
!!!VIVA SAVAGE MESSIAH!!! DEATH TO THE GODS OF MOUNT OLYMPUS!!!!!!
"Obscured under buildings, the threads and tributaries of the Fleet are easily lost. Multiple channels are dissolved, currents disappear and emerge simultaneously, apertures are kicked open and the Fleet is glimpsed again. Traces of the Fleet can be found in the architecture, signs and topography of the city.
Prowling around Smithfield in the first shimmering moments of a June day, I stumble into the post clubbing delirium of the Hope. Licensing laws are turned on their head. There’s a scramble for more drugs while pint pots smash and high voltage shrieking ensues in the shadow of the meatmarket. Offal, congealed blood and viscera are smeared across the cobbled floor.
It’s been one of those seamless days, episodic, hundreds of adventures, a massive cast, no surprise in turning a corner and facing another lost acquaintance. It was almost as if, for one moment the city broke free of its alienation.
I’m assailed by the raucous strains of punk rock the moment I’m shoved into the seedy red glow of the Merlins cave. It’s a tableau of mirrored alcoves, tiled walls, distorted acoustics and a population of déclassé deviants on smack. I’m sent reeling onto the dance floor by a load of crew off the estate.
We climb the squatted turrets of the crumbling old market, a dusty redbrick assemblage with eruptions of tenacious ferns. Gaffer taped Anarchy signs are still visible in the upper portholes of those chambers.
The Fleet river ran red from here, a pestilential stream; attempts were made to sanitise it as the canal and Holborn viaduct was built. You could call this a form of denial, the blood and filth is hidden beneath the surface, the poor dispersed and hidden from view. But the blood flows everywhere and riots erupt, the endless performance of a ritual without consciousness.
We’re observing the gangs of Turkish communists and SWP hacks. I’m dreaming of the teeming multitudes, the black flags and the proper kicking up, hordes of brutal skinheads booting fuck out of banks and rich bastards. I go to the garage for cigarettes and get followed by two old bill.
The viaduct was built in the 1860s, the rookery was destroyed and thousands of the poor were evicted from slums perceived as dangerous, their poverty made them likelier to rebel & riot. The destruction of the rookeries did not erase the poor but dispersed them, thousands of little rookeries cropped up all over in unexpected places. The attempt to repress leads to uncanny rupturing, the accursed share, nothing divided neatly but always a remainder, always something that can’t be erased. Once you lose the sacrificial altar the whole world becomes analtar.
Then it’s cinematic as we drift from one enchanted interior to another through a labyrinth of narrow streets and sloping valleys. We wander through the shifting topographies of Lovecraft and Escher, the old rookeries of Saffron hill. I climb under the bridge where the Fleet disgorges into Thames. Spaces, voices and ideas dissolve into a pleromatic realm. This is the dissolution of everything, the channelling into the collective unconscious. This is the unravelling of the two month bender, everything dissolving into an undifferentiated mess. I stand and look out across the Thames. Water is the universal solvent. A perpetual shifting. I consider the frail promise of the Thames barrier, the Fleet bursts its banks."
From Savage Messiah magazine.