Fact or fiction?

A few years ago I made a habit of noting the random things I overheard (purely by chance, this was not intentional eavesdropping) and chronicling them on this blog in a cunningly named ‘overheard’ series. One of my favourites (aside from a locker room marriage chat) was one about a dead dog in a suitcase that got stolen

[You’ll have to follow that link, I’m not re-telling it here!]

I remember it vividly. I’d been having coffee with my friend Katie outside Cafe Nero by London Bridge’s pirate ship. It was a sunny day and while Katie went inside to use the facilities, I soaked up some rays. As I did so, I couldn’t help but overhear what the two ladies at the table next to us were talking about. It was utterly bizarre and enthralling, so I sat there with my eyes closed, trying to remember the details so I could write about it later.

It’s the kind of story that sticks in one’s head, so it’s not surprising that when I spotted the following exchange on Facebook last week, my attention was well and truly caught:

Spot that last comment? Dead dog in stolen suitcase reference. I couldn’t believe my eyes and spent some time wondering if I’d ever told Sophie the story (she was in my small group last year, so it was more than possible). At the same time as I was writing a comment to that effect, someone else joined in and things got even more curious: 

Have you heard the story? (Other than by reading this blog – and if you’ve been reading since May 2009 you deserve some kind of long-service award!) Is it a sophisticated urban myth? Was the old lady I heard telling the tale simply repeating something she’d heard elsewhere for comic effect? Or, was someone with a much, much more popular blog than mine in Cafe Nero that day and caused the story to go viral?

Who knows. Still, it makes for an excellent dinner party conversation.

Strolling and travelling

I’ve got a new project…Inspired by the whole psychogeography thing, I’ve decided to document particular walks round London. It’ll be a little in they style of old favourite blog Bee Boppin’ the Boroughs (a wonderful tour of New York), but mostly just an opportunity to properly observe what I usually ignore.

Most of the time, walks through the city are just a means to get from A to B and often see me plugged into my iPod or on the phone. [My mother’s first question when I call her is now “where are you going?”.] I can be unobservant at the best of times, but doing this actually means I take notice and learn – a lot.

When applying to study history at university, one of the cheesier lines in my UCAS personal statement was: “I believe history enables us to see a further dimension on the world…” Suddenly behind the camera, I actively seek this history out – often taking notes to check online when I get home. [Yes, nerd alert.]

Anyway, on Tuesday I used the need for a restorative sick-day walk to get into Southwark Park and explore it properly – rather than simply using it as a cut-through to Tesco or the tube, or for sun-bathing. So off I went with my camera in tow and ready for adventure. Surprisingly, for a day in the middle of the school holidays, it was quiet and peaceful. I learnt some interesting Southwark history and did a little TfL geekery (well, I took photos of Rotherhithe Station).

Next on the list was my regular walk home from London Bridge (something that’s become quite a favourite activity over the summer), which can be done either along the river or along Tooley Street – though at this time of the year the river’s not so much fun, what with all the tourists…I’ll come back to the river version on a quieter day.

Yesterday I took up the opportunity, figuring it would make up for a lack of gym visit – especially as taking photos doubled the length of the journey. Along the way, I took a slight detour to a church yard I’d discovered by accident a few weeks ago (after I’d got lost on the way home from the gym – I also found a farmer’s market and an independent cinema). At the time, I was preoccupied with being lost, over-laden with bags and dealing with an international family crisis (or rather, staying in touch with my sister who was dealing with it) so couldn’t get the camera out. Now I had the chance to have a proper look.

My favourite discovery from last month was the use of fragments of stone memorials in paths. This time I discovered a whole mosaic of them. Mysterious extracts of text that occasionally made sense, but usually didn’t…

I think some are from the same memorials, others are just completely random – I particularly liked one that seemed to mention jam.

This project also enables me to make proper use of my Flickr account. It may seem odd to persist with such a thing when I’m clearly a Facebook addict, but I’ve always distinguished between the photos that go on each site. Facebook’s for friends and occasional pretentiousness, but isn’t usually about the quality of the shot or telling a story. Flickr however, is partly about putting lots of photos out there (it’s where my parents catch up on my travels) and also gets them seen by the wider public – including a couple that have been published in travel guides and on random news websites.

So these random meanderings won’t be subjected to my Facebook friends, they’ll simply be an artful addition to my photostream and provide odd moments of blog fodder. I’m guessing few of you would be interested in 80+ photos of Southwark Park or 140+ pictures of my route home…

Oh, and one other thing – I think I’ve decided that each journey requires an alliterative name. So far I’ve had  a Southwark Stroll and Tooley Street Travelling – I think Marylebone Meanderings and Wardour Street Wanderings may well be in the offing, but other suggestions would be warmly received.