Seething Writers of the Walking Kind

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So, Seething Writers of the Third Kind, as it was billed on Facebook, became Seething Writers of the Walking Kind… our first foray into what I have been calling Seethingography, and this was it- a walk around Seething Wells for just over an hour. We met at the Museum of Futures and the walk began with a small reading from Phil Smith’s wonderful book ‘On Walking’, followed by the famous Walt Whitman lines:

now voyager

It was great fun, and we were very lucky to be accompanied by Seething experts Simon Tyrrell and Howard Benge who have studied the history of the filter beds and Seething Wells water works, amongst other local history. It will be interesting to see what writing comes out of this psychogeographical exploration of the area.

view from the lambeth waterworks steps
view from the lambeth waterworks steps

The next Seething Writers meeting takes place on Monday August 22nd, from 7.30- 9pm at the Museum of Futures in Surbiton. There is a Facebook Group here or email seethingography@gmail.com to be added to the mailing list.

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Two Limericks

There once was an old man called Bill,
Who woke up one day feeling ill,
He ran round the house,
Like a very fast mouse,
To find the right tablet or pill.
SW_4thJuly2016_4
There was an old man with a fan,
Who went by the grand name of Dan,
When the sun got hot,
He went in and got,
Amongst other things his old fan.
By Simon Paul
(originally from Seething Writers writing prompt: Ready, Steady Write)

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Lost Property

SW_4thJuly2016_5
Lost property
dropped from the hand,
who knows where they fell,
better to have lost, than never loved at all,
Christ lost a cup, and a shoe, up the hill.
By Robin Rutherford.
http://www.robinrutherford.co.uk/

(originally from Seething Writers writing prompt: Ready, Steady Write)

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What is Seethingography?

FUSbadge with FUSin it (1)

What is Seethingography? The etymology of ‘graphy’ is the process of writing or recording. I am certainly a Seethingographyer, as is anyone who writes on this blog, posts a Facebook status or sends a text about having a great day at a Seething event. I have spent a many fun years being a Seethingographyer, even producing a PhD Thesis on Seething for University College London and the Free University of Seething.

So what is Seething? Well if you ask Seethingers it is likely that they will mention, community, togetherness and, as I was once told, being a bit a little bit stupid just because life is a little nicer when those things are involved. I once described the State of Seething to other anthropologists at a conference. I showed them pictures of myself with a giant paper sardine on my head, an image of the then UK environment minister sliding precariously skiing down a hill with blocks of ice laced to his feet and a video of a mildly drunk man dressed as a 15 foot giant, hurtling towards oncoming cars whilst balancing on a segway. Anthropology is the study of the things people do and want to do to make them feel more human. As such many of the other anthropologists in the room studied such things as the rituals of Papua New Guinea, the emerging religious ideologies of China, the ways in which new manufacturing techniques are shifting global understandings of economy and notions of work and so on and so on. After listening patiently one anthropologist asked ‘it sounds like your work is a lot of fun, how is this anthropology?’

The answer is simple; having fun is a thing most people do or want to do (some don’t, I met one once, they ask awkward questions at conferences). So what if we take stupidity seriously for a minute, we can ask, what does this actually do? How exactly does it help us be more, well… us? Let’s start with the heritage of suburbs. Many people imagine suburbs as that place of twitching net curtains, of rows of mowed lawns and commuter monotony which induces a suburban zombie death (bear with me). My friend and fellow academic, Helen, once wrote an excellent piece which argued that Seethingers take the non-history and this imagined dullness of suburbs in order to play, that is, to insert life into the imaginary of suburbs through the very myths, stories and histories it lacks. Around these myths much fun, togetherness and community building is had, all fueled through being a little bit stupid. But still what is this ‘stupidity’ precisely? The Oxford English Dictionary says that ‘stupid’ is the lack of sense. Now take the Sardine Festival parade, which consists in part of four (sometimes five – important to note) guinea pigs pulling a cart full of sardines through the streets of Surbiton, following the fishing catch from the Thames which was aided by a good serenading of Seething shanties. The parade is followed by Seethingers replete with banners, fish hats and giant cheese costumes along to a park where drinking, dancing eating and drinking is had in plenty. One could say that this would, upon first viewing, make little sense and whilst not wrong, it’s not quite right either. If you live in, or even pass through, or just know a little about the borough of Kingston then you will know that the symbol of the fish are everywhere. They can be found on street signs, on bins and lamp-posts and on all council correspondence. The fish, as the symbol of the borough, relate to the historic link to the doomsday book of 1086, where three fisheries were recorded upon the site of Kingston. So the sardines, being as they are fish, have some link to Kingston, so there is some sense, perhaps? One Seethinger once told me of how he once walked Kingston’s streets and thought of the fish he saw as the symbol of a stuffy local council, of a deep history to which he didn’t relate and of a royal association (via the fish pond in Hampton Court). The fish were a symbol of a social hierarchy of which he was not a part. However he went on to tell me, in beautiful detail of how, since the Sardine parade he sees the fish as little reminders of singing sea shanties on a sunny day, of watching the community dress up and confuse the local traffic through being fish and of dancing and sharing food in a local park, which until then he had seldom used. Now he sees the fish and smiles as the fish remind him of something, something fun, happy and, just a little bit stupid. So stupidity, or almost stupidity, which is making something make slightly less sense, has the ability to take something, such as the idea of suburb, or the way a fish symbol makes you think, and change it a little into something else. This little change, where there is less sense but still sense makes things different. What is that difference? It is the difference between smiling and not, between fun and dull, between being somewhere and living in a place which is yours, ours. In this way being a little bit stupid is hugely important.

As I learnt more about Seething I asked a number of Seethingers to take me on walks. Eventually a series of Free University of Seething walks were done together in groups making a map and some films in the process. We learnt from each other, told stories and wandered streets. In the process the Free University of Seething was established. This did a very Seething thing, it took what a university was, stuffy, hierarchical, expensive, and made it Seething, fun, for everyone, for free. Currently, we have a Facebook page where you can enrol; we have curated exhibitions and had a number of lectures. Even though Seething, and its university are a little bit stupid I take my PhD from FUS as seriously, if not more seriously, than the one from UCL as it’s the one that does something, makes it from somewhere and means something great. This is why I encourage you to blog, post, write, and share. Take FUS for your own, for Seething and please, remember to be just a little bit stupid.

Jeeva

 

A higher temple?

theHistorierMay23rd2016

Strange shapes and forms appear within the architectural façades of Seething. Have you seen them? Geometric shapes, pyramids, towers and columns are integrated into buildings in and around the Victoria Road. Taken all together these separate parts form a 3D jigsaw puzzle.

It was all created by a chap who delved into the hermetic and pagan during the Long Seething Century. AKW Shorom, was a Seethinger through and through, born into a humble family, but blossomed at the Great Library under the guidance of Pross. It was there he learnt of the classical times, when Seethingers would share knowledge and ideas with other peace loving communities from across the world. It was through a system of energy harnessed through limestone, where the lime crystals vibrated emanating sound, replicating the voice at the other end of the energy- “line”. As time went by people started fashioning heads out of the stone, and eventually the likenesses of people. They were called statues, from the greeting on picking up a message, “’s t’at you?”

This was before the days of the Great Schism, when all contact broke down and was never again established. Unbeknownst to each other, a patchwork of communities carried across the world. Was all lost? Shorom thought not. He designed a temple to embrace the ancient energies circulating the world. A giant antenna. It would act as radio sending out messages to other secret societies. His great temple would make contact with those societies and the worldly secrets passed on and shared.

Shorom was hounded out of Seething by jealous Aldermen of the great council. But what of his temple? He was a cunning man. He broke it up and gave it to an architectural scrap yard to sell, on one condition. No part may leave the boundaries of Seething. At a time of few architectural fragments, the parts were scooped by builders and quantity surveyors, who built them into their own designs.

No one knows what happened to Shorom. It is said he sometimes returns to Seething in disguise as an hospitaller or a cheesemonger, and that one day he will return as the great architect to rebuild his temple and return peace to the world.

As you walk round Seething, keep an eye out, look at the buildings. If you see something, place your hand upon it and feel it vibrate.

By the Historier

The Historier blogs at https://anhistoriersmiscellany.wordpress.com/

 

What is Seethingography?

fairyguineapigmarch2015

What is Seethingography?

Seethingography is: the writing and study of  the State of Seething

Is there something special about the place where you live?

A strangely-shaped tree?

A sign outside a shop which makes you laugh or wonder if there is a story behind it?

A brick wall that makes you think of a castle?

Maybe a brightly-coloured front door of a house, which reminds you of the seaside?

Do you like walking around where you live and seeing what’s new, what’s changed and what is the same…

There are many ways in which you can join in the quest to investigate the place and spirit of Seething…

  1. Take a photo of something that feels important to you about where you live and write a sentence about it.
  2. Send  a description, poem, essay, story about how something about where you live has affected you or meant something to you. How you you think it makes the place you are in special or unique- this does not have to be a permanent ‘thing’ – it could be transient, seasonal, an event or a sound…

This is your chance to have your say, give an opinion, some knowledge, a recommendation…even a review?

Please send text up to  400 words, poems up to 20 lines,  photographs (jpgs please) with your name to:  seethingography@gmail.com

Looking forward to hearing from you!