Where the dead

The latest videohaiku uses footage shot in Kensal Green Cemetery, the oldest of London’s “Magnificent Seven” Victorian garden cemeteries, which is just a half mile from my wife’s house. The footage reminded me initially somehow of Shakespeare’s Sonnet 73 (“That time of year thou mayst in me behold…”) — time and timelessness being hard not to think about in a cemetery in any season.

Sleep was of course the dominant metaphor for death in the Victorian era, a fact that was brought home in a lecture we attended at another of the Magnificent Seven last week, Brompton Cemetery, about the once-popular custom of posing the recently deceased for photographs. Hopefully the faceless figure in the video suggests something of my feelings about our fondness for euphemisms around death. I also gave the video misty edges as a general nod to Arcadian sentimentality.

I can’t help thinking though that this would be greatly improved by the addition of a black metal soundtrack…

200 years

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A brief videohaiku tribute to the 200th anniversary of John Keats composing “To Autumn” in September 1819. I’d thought about going to the Keats house next to Hampstead Heath to shoot video, but instead I was charmed by this tiny square of wildflowers that someone had protected in the middle of the sidewalk on a busy street (Kilburn Lane) closer to home. It speaks to me of how greatly wild spaces have diminished in the last two centuries, and much British people still love nature despite having so little of it left.

In wild

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The latest videohaiku. The London Borough of Brent put in “wildflower” beds in several of its parks this spring, part of an effort to stave off population crashes of wild bees and other insects in the UK, where the farming lobby is out of control. Unfortunately, the seed mix they used seems to be weighted more toward showy flowers than to UK natives, but it’s a start.

Building site

Still from "Building site" showing a digger in the middle distance surrounded by huge mounds of dirt.

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Where does all this soil end up, I wonder? It’s being removed to make room for the un-earth of a mass transit hub which, it seems, nobody really wants except for the investors.

Not the most brilliant footage, but I’m kind of pleased with the haiku.

Back alleys

still from "back alleys" showing two alleys side by side

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The latest videohaiku. I’ve been fascinated by the contrast between the super-scruffy Billy Fury Way, connecting West Hampstead and Finchley Road, and the posh alleys on Hampstead Hill just the east of it – my walking route to Hampstead Heath passes through both. This time of year, especially, it’s fascinating what decay looks like in each environment. Which is more magical, more portal-like? (I waver on this.) And which back alley better exemplifies the wabi-sabi aesthetic: the one colorful as a year-round fall, with dead pigeons and abandoned shopping carts, or the the one as clean and “natural” as a Zen temple?

Peace garden

Antony Gormley sculpture at the peace park

A videohaiku filmed at the Maygrove Peace Park, one of at least six gardens or parks in London dedicated to world peace – but the only one with an Antony Gormley sculpture, untitled (listening). Also featured in the video is Hamish Black’s Peace Crane. This park is just down the road from us in Kilburn, but few people outside the immediate neighborhood seem to be aware of it. For more on the park, see the friends group website.

Climate strike

still from climate strike

A haiku video using footage of my partner Rachel preparing for last Friday’s global climate strike—an event led by schoolchildren in which adults were also encouraged to participate.

Old Oak Common

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Yes, Virginia, there is a hellmouth. Old Oak Common is where the planned (and entirely unnecessary) High Speed 2 line will link up with Crossrail and the Great Western mainline to form the busiest station in the UK, in the process building one of the largest underground structures in the world. Currently it’s a massive plot of destroyed earth adjacent to Wormwood Scrubs, a rather bucolic conservation area less than two miles from where I live in northwest London. For more on the deconstruction, see this article in the Londonist. Anyway, enjoy the nice haiku.