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December 2008, vol 4 no 4

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Diana Webb

 

Largactil Shuffle

Sun on the russet and wine tones of leaves strewn randomly on paving stones, blown from the row of trees behind the car park, each turning at a slightly different stage. In mellow light the prospect of tomorrow's sponsored walk from the reputable psychiatric hospital on London's Denmark Hill to Tate Modern, that power station converted to a centre from which art generates...

'We believe mental well-being is enhanced by the power of creativity'

A map of the route. So many roads bear names of writers, artists once known round these parts the greatest Shakespeare(The Globe) and Chaucer (Tabard Street). And we too will be pilgrims setting out along the way where each London plane is a chapel on the path to wholeness. Just off the map the place where Blake saw heavenly winged beings in a tree. 'Madness a sacred force that withers in captivity' said Mallasz through whom angels talked.

Waking next morning to a golden sky, passing a Van Gogh sunflower en route to the station through the mist. Among the stops the one where Holman Hunt got off once carrying the lantern used in his painting 'Light of the World', his model painted down the road in the garden of lodgings shared with Millais, choosing the full moon autumn nights, nights we're approaching now. And the door behind him 'Behold I stand at the door and knock', the door of a disused gunpowder hut beside the Hogsmill that Millais used to float 'Ophelia' found recently unfit for exhibition posters in Japan on grounds of health and safety.

At Waterloo station, my friend is aware of cooking smells of steak and kidney pie, a dish Ravel once relished here, suffering maybe from a mental health problem manifested in the repetitive nature of ' Bolero'.

We're on the 68 bus now moving slowly towards the gathering point.

top deck bus window—
the stained glass light
of plane leaves

behind a rubble pile
a sign to Peckham Rye
(for angels)

The bus stops outside the Butterfly Shopping Centre so named because a new species came in here along the old canal on barges.A huge tile above the entrance embellished with a symmetry of fragile wings, soul's ancient symbol.

Outside the Maudsley where the walk begins our guide points out a church where Ruskin who lived nearby designed a window and tells of his unconsummated union with Effie later dissolved because the female body in real life upset him. Effie then married Millais who placed a Painted Lady in the shoulder of his 'Blind Girl'

butterflies so many high rise windows

On down to the Green a plane tree at its centre.Small doorstep shrines, faces at windows and lines of washing straddling balconies along backsteets conecting rectangles of green.

poetry in the park—
a woman studies a leaf
vein by vein

history of a square—
two pigeons peck
between the leaves

Dickens Square not far from steets named Dorrit, Coppefield, Pickwick, Quilp. Not one named 'Artful Dodger'

Arriving at a riverside pub I recal how once as I sat sipping white wine a ten year old boy accosted me wielding a sponsorship form to gather my name and money to help (so he said) those suffering from cancer. And when I said I was poor he rebuked me. 'You aint poor. You look quite nice.'

So many beggars along this stretch of river. Homeless people, people with mental health proplems becoming homeless. They bed down under arches. Arches of a bridge replacing the ones Monet painted through the mist.

train home—
against a dusty glow
the slate horizon

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