Why is it so hard to get off the beaten track?
So the idea is to draw a circle on a map of Dunbar-maybe around the base of a wine glass- and follow the line as closely as possible in the real world,wandering along with no other aim than to stop every now and then to gaze about and hopefully see my surroundings in new ways; to find the stories that Dunbar wants to tell me.
Following the line will force me to leave my usual route and to get off the beaten track.
I am a creature of habit with no sense of direction and zero map-reading skills so changing my usual route and veering off the beaten track do not come naturally. What’s more, I was brought up on a farm where physical effort was the norm so adults never walked anywhere unless strictly necessary; my dad travelled about the farm by Land Rover or tractor. If we’d thought about it (which we didn’t) we’d probably have considered ‘walking around for the sake of it’ to be a middle-class pursuit for people who sat down all week. On a Sunday afternoon, prime ‘walking about for the sake of it’ time, my dad collapsed exhausted in his armchair.
So aimless walking does not usually make it onto my ‘to do’ list. But today it has: I have a circle drawn round a glass at the bar of the Dunmuir Hotel, on to a large-scale map of Dunbar, provided by Dunbar Library.
The glass on the map trick is suggested by Merlin Coverley in his book Psychogeography. During your psychogeography walk Coverley suggests you keep vigilant for graffiti, branded litter, snatches of conversation, coincidences and juxtapositions, and that you look for ‘coded messages and signs’.
I am excited; I like the idea of coded messages and signs. I set out with hope in my heart.