I had no notion of what my prompts for the day might be; I was here to drift, here to experience the atmosphere and the day, my role, that of the flaneur. The prompts for the day, for me, were the word ‘edge’ picked from a hat, to have in mind. It was also suggested that we might collect words from the urban environment, from signage and graffiti etc. This idea particularly appealed as a way to look at my surroundings and gather information. My derive through Littlehampton involved me as an observer and receptacle, of an activated atmosphere generated by myself moving through the landscape around the river Arun that cuts the town in two. I did, however, find a character that I have enjoyed before: ‘a tart of a seaside town’, all dressed up but shabby around the edges, just the sort of place I feel at home. My ‘self’ has formed within the landscapes of my youth: Selsey Bill and Felixstowe, the seaside towns in which I grew and played, share character traits with Littlehampton. I was drawn by the decay of the opposite river bank, but found myself surrounded by the manicured neatness of golf, fenced and protected by barbed wire. Guarded edges’ containing frequent, repetitive, insistent urban signage that I should pay for my parking here! These demands and constrictions became over bearing with their continual recurring presence. I paused at the top of the bridge crossing the river to indulge my feelings of awe and wander as the river surged beneath me; my head in the sky, a sublime moment to get lost in. But I came crashing back to earth as I read “Midge was here watching the dragon boats, thinking of you and the Rainbow Bridge, R.I.P my best mate.” My mind slips to death which surrounds me in life, a friend who jumped from the Rainbow Bridge? A friend pushed beyond the edge of understanding, a friend deeply missed. A place swirling with many currents, traces of history and suggestions of lives that I feel and translate in ways which relate to me. We regrouped and talked. The final suggestion of the day was to use a surrealist writing technique that involved composing the collected words from the days drift, into a poem. The poem I wrote reflects and contains my feelings from the day; a collected memory of the derive, created directly from my experience.
Welcome to Littlehampton,
Walk the River Road,
Meander along the Waterside,
Drift to Arun Yacht Club open day,
Wander West Beach car park,
Jump the Rainbow Bridge,
Saunter to the edge of understanding,
Progress along the Rope Walk,
Midge was watching the dragon boats,
1500 feet long, no wash,
Deep Water, danger of drowning or injury,
No jumping or swimming,
Thinking of having a party?
Rest In Peace my best mate.