Rogers, J. (2013) This Other London: Adventures in the Overlooked City HarperCollins ISBN 978 0 00 749427 9
Ever visited Ilford, or Beckton, or Crayford Ness? Ever scaled Uxendon Hill, or knowingly traversed the Falcon Brook valley? John Rogers is our topographical guide to ‘this other London’, seeking out parts of the capital rarely visited by most of us.
In a series of ten walks, Rogers finds Vietnam in a disused gas works, passes the Titanic’s engine room at the foot of Dollis Hill, and reveals a connection between London’s largest outdoor pool and the surface of Mars.
Yep, I’m back in the realm of peripheral psychogeography again!
The zone goes by different names, few of them complimentary. Victor Hugo called it “bastard countryside”. The landscape theorist Alan Berger called it “drosscape”. The artist Philip Guston called it “crapola”. And the environmentalist Marion Shoard called it “edgeland”, which she defined as “the interfacial interzone between urban and rural”. The edgelands are the debatable space where city and countryside fray into one another. They comprise jittery, jumbled, broken ground: brownfield sites and utilities infrastructure, crackling substations and pallet depots, transit hubs and sewage farms, scrub forests and sluggish canals, allotments and retail parks, slackened regulatory frameworks and guerilla ecologies.
(Robert Macfarlane writing in a review of Farley & Symmons’ Edgelands in The Guardian in 2011)
Rogers’ book isn’t the first to explore London’s surprisingly beguiling peripheral, post-industrial terrain.
But he proves to be an accessible, engaging and democratic companion who, on ten vaguely interconnected walks across the empty spaces of his mental (and physical) map of London, shares the creative links he makes between the direct physical experience of walking, and old maps; between the study of historic texts and a dodgy knee. Imaginative leaps, combined with a sense of serious purpose, an inquisitive mindset hard-wired into mischievous sense of fun, make this a thoroughly enjoyable read.
He’s the everyman’s psychogeographer, hobbling across the hilltops with only a can of Stella and a dodgy knee for company.The author’s love of exploration is infectious. Anyone who reads This Other London will find themselves with an unexpected itch to visit the Welsh Harp Reservoir or Hounslow Heath. At the very least, you’ll find yourself varying your walk into work, looking for tell-tale gradients and unusual flora.
(Again taken from the Londonist review)
This Other London is a gateway to the underexplored nooks and crannies of lived-in rather than tourist London, take a peek, it’s fascinating, and confirmation that the adventure really does begin at our own front door…