Friday, 31 December 2010

Dear friends and comrades in flaneurie

I hope Yuletide has been what you wished and you have enjoyed yourself despite all the consumerist clichés and strange pressures

Please join The LRM on our first First Sunday on 2011 – January 2nd – we’ll be gathering at The Britons Protection Great Bridgewater Street at 2pm. We’ll set off about 2.30 (by which time I hope everyone will have already broken any resolutions borne of guilt and obligation rather than desire and enlightenment) We’ll be utilizing creative cartography to see if we can chart the waters ahead…. Please do join us if you can, it’s a great way to start the year, shake of hangovers and experience the city in new ways with convivial companions.

As the end of year clock ticks it may be a cliché but I can not help but reflect on the period just gone. It has been full of enlightening, inspiring and entertaining encounters on the streets and I want to express my heartfelt thanks to everyone who makes the LRM happen. It is truly a collective endeavor and I feel in awe of so many of the amazing people who contribute in a myriad ways. I raise a glass to you all, it would be a ridiculously long toast to name everyone but you know who you are and I hope you know you have a place in my heart. I will contradict myself, as usual, by adding an extra cheer for Alan – if The LRM believed in such things he would surely be knighted by now.

I’ve always found it boring to talk about the weather but please indulge me a moment. We can’t change what the sky throws at us (climate chaos not withstanding; clearly we have some responsibility here) and I’ve had an epiphany this snowy season. Earlier in the year I let myself become isolated and fearful, all the things I am so fond of condemning at the arrival of the white stuff – but in December I tried embracing the new topography revealed by concealment and derives enforced by drifts. The near became strangely far away as neurological conditions and ice pavements make a terrible mix but I have so many books i want to read and music to listen to i reveled in the hibernation. It felt like a test of whether the loitering philosophy – of going with the flow, celebrating the extraordinary in the everyday and finding the magick in the manunian rain – could be applied to all aspects of life and I truly feel like it can, also my cellar is as disorientating a netherworld as the darkest of engels alleyways…. Staying in is not the new going out but it does have its own rewards!

The flipside to new year nostalgia is of course aspirations for the future and 2011 is already promising to bring new and delightful adventures. February will take us where no loiterers have dared to go before, there are plans afoot for an improved website (we will continue to champion the ephemeral of course but we have gathered many resources to share) and there will be more s with like minded friends….

First up in January we are delighted to have been invited to contribute to a wonderful new project by one of our favourite artists Jane Samuels. The Abandoned Shop of Curiosities is an “ emporium which manifests in abandoned shops; and offers you a window into other, forbidden and unseen abandoned places. The shop invites visitors to interact and explore, to discover strange narratives, and furtive creatures from The Abandoned Buildings Project.

Jane will be holding an open studio throughout the residency, and inviting visitors to contribute to the production and development of new work. The interactive exhibition also invites visitors to share their memories of Blackburn’s now lost or abandoned places, using maps, written notes, drawings or by bringing in objects or photographs.
The LRM will be be making several appearances throughout the residency, exploring the relationship between Blackburn’s official histories, and the personal histories of the people who live there. The LRM will be running mapping workshops on January 15 and 22nd and using the information gained to create two walking tours of the town on 29th January and 5th February”

The shop, exhibition and open studio will be open Thursday, Friday and Saturday 13th Jan – 5th Februray. I am really excited to enter the magical realm Jane will be conjuring up and urge you to visit if you can. More details are on

As ever if you have any comments, suggestions or just fancy a natter do please get in touch via email or the LRM hotline 07974929589

Thanks again for your support and I wish you all a 2011 full of joy, creative mischief and happy wanderings. I’m off to crack open the sloe gin

Love and golden satsumas
Morag x

Tuesday, 21 December 2010

Solstice Communique: What is a derive?

Dear friends, lovers and loiterers

I hope you are keeping warm, positive and open minded in the current challenging conditions. Apologies this email is out of sync with First Sunday but there a few things I wanted to share

Recently I have been questioning the relevance of the derive and been fearful it has become commodified and recuperated by so many that as a tactic is has become meaningless . When the dark times are upon us how can walking help? Have we become nothing more than social ramblers? It is true the term has been misinterpreted, misused and devalued by some utter tosh, much of if very expensive and flashy.

I was feeling sad about this but then, of course, i went for a wander and felt again the rush of excitement at an unexpected view, a serendipitous collision with the path of a friend and then I paused to hear the whispers beneath the roar of Christmas shopping.

Yes! The derive is still a relevant and beautiful tactic but it must be only one of many if we are to create our fantasy city. David Wilkinson made me cheer when he wrote to me “we are never too late, recuperation is never total or infinite. History is a process – (it was said) history was over, capitalism was smooth and efficient and people had forgotten how to fight back, And look where we are now! Student occupations and Len McCluskey make me do silly happy dances. There’s lots of places you can stand within a fundamentally contradictory society, both metaphorically and physically”

Psychogeography is an evolving and rich tradition; it has changed over time and will doubtless change again. The Situationist Internationale still holds an abiding fascination for me. Of course their true power is contested and accessibility, openness and co-operation (which The LRMN strive for) were perhaps not their strongest points. However their echoes resonate, perhaps now stronger than ever with student occupations, the return of the Okasional Café to Manchester (hooray) and roving protests disrupting the spectacle of christmas consumption whist striving to avoid kettles – such protests are nothing if not psychogeographic albeit on an unconscious level amongst the participants.

Possibly my favourite SI work deals with what, for me, is key to true social change – the integration of ideas into a "Revolution of Everyday Life" where everything we do is meaningful; a separate activist class is as damaging as being ruled by a cabinet of millionaires. “People who talk about revolution and class struggle without referring explicitly to everyday life, without understanding what is subversive about love and what is positive in the refusal of constraints, such people have a corpse in their mouths” Raoul Vaneigem.

One of the most elegant descriptions of the derive I have found is by Greil Marcus who says “The point (is) to encounter the unknown as a facet of the known, astonishment on the terrain of boredom, innocence in the face of experience. ..the physical town replaced by an imaginary city” He is clearly a wise man, and not just because he has also eulogised the best (well, my favourite) band in the world

Builing on this The LRM have identified 5 key characteristics that derives have that make them different to a commute or suchlike.

1 It should be spontaneous, directionless, aimless (obviously sometimes we have interpreted this flexibly or we would miss the story telling bit at the end… but we never know how we will get from a to b…we follow the flow and are open to digression, diversion and serendipity)

2 Loitering with us is participatory and everyone has a collective responsibility to look after themselves and each other . It would be disingenuous to say we are non hierarchical but we are open to everyone and anyone can become involved, we are always up for collaboration and will never claim to be offering a definitive version of the city (how could we?)

3 Our walks are non commercial; no one makes a monetary profit. We will never charge because the streets are free and belong to everyone.

4 And yes, this may contradict point one a little bit but so what? We aim to disrupt the banal and find new views; to glimpse the magick in the Mancunian rain and the parallel universes swirling around the city. We want to see remarkable sights and with the right frame of mind we can do so frequently

5 First Sundays are for fun and we want to bring pleasure and convivial company. Stop if you are not happy (some walks of course investigate uncanny or dark atmospheres but still should be a positive experience)

I am not idealistic enough to think this is all it takes to change the world but I do believe loitering makes a contribution on the side of good. I must also stress it is a state of mind and you don’t need the LRM to show you how to derive, we don’t know any more than you do - many of us disagree with much of the above - and in fact actually the most wonderful walks are often solitary.

I should also clarify there is a warm place in my heart for expeditions such as guided walks, especially those borne of passion that tell new stories about the streets, complicate official narratives and help us look afresh at the mundane. For examples of inspiring walks like this just think about Manchester modernist society walking the Mancunian way or Steve Millington reconnecting with Hulme. (there are others too of course)

If you have read this far I am grateful and I also want to send a heartfelt thank you to everyone who has helped make this such a splendid year for The LRM whether by joining us on the streets or sending virtual inspiration. I wish you all a glorious solstice and whatever you wish the festive season to be.

First Sundays carry on regardless of Yuletide, and I wanted to confirm we will be gathering on January 2nd – more details to follow. we will as ever be marking seasonal changes and abandoning the official path to create new desire lines across the city.

With love and light
Morag xx

PS I just got this email from a first time loiterer who joined after Alan and I spoke to the uni philospophy society about psychogeography ( a talk we hope to reprise for a general audience some time soon) “We had an amazing time. We found a hundred hidden delights and realised that half an hour later we were still only really just behind the pub” above all the derive is an action, a practice, not just a theory so please do come and join us next year

Wednesday, 15 December 2010

racists not welcome here

this is in response to something on facebook, and i dont really like cross posting, but it feels too important not to.


I feel sick and angry but have to share this. I have just banned someone from the group for the first (and I hope only) time. This is because they were spouting poisonous racist EDL shite.

I want to clarify something lest anyone is in doubt: When we say the streets belong to us we mean ALL of us - we the people - regardless of colour, sexuality, gender, class, ability, age, faith and anything else any fuckwit wants to make narrow minded judgements against.

Diversity - and tolerance - is what makes our cities great and racism is just stupid. We have NEVER and will never tolerate narrowminded shite. It has no place in the LRM and if anyone wants to have a go at me for stifling of free speech they can piss off too.

Sorry I had to do that as i have to stress all the loiterers i have ever met in the real world, and have corresponded with online over the years have been lovely, intelligent, openminded folk and we welcome ANYONE who treats others with respect.

much love to you all xxx

Friday, 3 December 2010

december's first sunday

please join us 2pm sunday december 5th at john rylands library cafe, from where we shall embark on a spot of disorienteering. Please bring a compass if you have one x