oxford psychogeography



Psychogeography - a phenomenon resisting definition

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Oxford Waterways

23 September 2013



Event 3 notes – Monday 23 September 2013


Oxford Waterways        


We were:  Jasmine, Nimmi, Jim, Ann and Malcolm.




We looked at mill streams and sluices at the foot of the Disneyfied Castle, regretted the passing of breweries, took art shots of floating rubbish, wondered what a staid pub might have been like 150 years ago when boatmen and colliers pitched for work and drank beer and fought each other if they didn’t find any.


We tried to make sense of how the canal intersects with the river, trod the towpath under the railway where Rewley’s clerics once washed their sheepskins then we followed the Thames/Isis through Osney, where powerful gentrification has ousted power generation.  As we passed the Gasworks Bridge and the site of the disappeared gas holders, we reflected that we could have saved ourselves a two mile detour had we taken to canoes, as T.E Lawrence allegedly once did, to navigate the dark narrow subterranean hole that carries the Mill Stream under Oxpens to the river.




                                         We disregarded the instruction to try to walk on water.


The afternoon took us from Grandpont across Christ Church meadow in search of the Cherwell Delta.  Hugging one stream of this, we traversed St Clement’s where residents express their ambivalence about their nearness to the water by largely neglecting it.


Glimpsing the rising minarets and domes of the Islamic Centre’s ten year building site we then got as close to the land twixt two waters as the President and Fellows of Magdalen would allow, to plunge ourselves into  dense urban woodland behind St Catz.

Jim successfully pursued his quest for hidden ponds and mist pools which no man except Dr Google has ever mapped.


We circumnavigated  St Catz (because one can), taking in its carp-filled waters, admired the big walled box where the Master lives, crossed yet another arm of the Cherwell at Manor Road and pitched up in the Holywell Cemetery, where the University buries its celebrated dead.


All this we did as unchallenged strangers.    




Malcolm Hope




(1)From ‘Wanderlust – a history of walking’ by activist US walker Rebecca Solnit, which I am enjoying reading at the moment.  (Verso, 2001 & 2002).