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the perverse, brought about by the darker half of our
worldly life. Both authors embraced a physical conduit
– walking – for their nocturnal, writerly explorations.
Walking – but especially at night – is an activity that
has been associated with freedom, observation and
self-awareness, at least since Charles Dickens’s essay
Nightwalks in which, ‘the wild moon and clouds were
as restless as an evil conscience in a tumbled bed, and
the very shadow of the immensity of London seemed
to lie oppressively upon the river’.
In discussion, both Beaumont and Dunn confided the
pyscho-sensory outlet that walking allows; it is one of
which I have also partaken, from earliest teenage in the
US. Perambulation, or noctambulation, ranges from
vigorous and determined to the leisurely pace of day
dreaming. This self-propelled channel of awareness
invites observations as well as mindful cogitating,
problem-solving and wide-ranging imagining at its
best (and destinationism at its most utilitarian), with
the ontological co-benefit of thinking and feeling –
within the personal whooshing of body in air.
Beaumont’s walking typologies include diversionary
walking – ‘walking to distraction’ – wandering, getting
lost, sauntering, strolling, the melancholic wander,
the promenade. Time is logically implicated; dallying,
strolling. And efficiency and briskness, associated with
business, and its flip side – loitering, vagrancy – imply
class issues and criminalisation. All in all, he describes
walking as the ‘rhythm of poetry’.
Dunn’s physicalised thinking – walking plus musing –
is described as relaxed but alert with a repetition-like
breathing, a heartbeat, tempo musically associated as
pace and cadence. His prerequisite-to-writing, 400-
plus miles, was not destination-oriented. He professed
an ‘inner gyroscope’ guiding circumnavigation.
Thoughtfully, ‘it is never the same street, like stepping
into a river – not the same as yesterday’. On high
sensory awareness, ‘things feel different at night...
the atmosphere compresses and expands time and
distance. And I tuned into my own curiosity.’
And as I now sit on Charlotte Street in London,
writing, in the sun’s dying rays, facade lights and
neon appear to glow more brightly, social groups
linger by restaurants and cafes, their voices translate