Monday, September 15, 2003


Five of us met below the plaque commemorating Thomas DeQuincey. The Randomiser told us to 'ask for directions then follow them'. Ten minutes later we stood outside a police station. 'Follow someone for ten minutes' it said. We followed a large and overweight person into the Novhotel and on up to the Hunterian Suite. He asked us who we were trying to find. Donald, I said. Thats right, his name was indeed Donald. We quickly left.
'Wander in a department store'. Glenda purchased a jacket for her son Ross. Underwear and socks were very reasonably priced we thought.
'Run to the next corner'. We did
'Cross the road'. It was a very small road.
'Wander in a department store'. Marks & Spencers is full of pre-chopped vegetables. We thought it curious that the 'urban survival' section consisted entirely of suits? Where were the hard-wearing rip-fast combat jackets with built in aspirator? The cafe was dull and soulless.
'Follow someone for ten minutes'. We shuffled around something called the Savoy Centre just behind two elderly (and roly-poly) ladies. They became suspicious as we lurked outside the Chinese Medical Dispensary (erectile dysfunction one of many specialities).
'Right then right again' followed by 'enter a building' found us atop a carpark admiring unusual views of the city. Sharon and I revealed, respectively, a Nikon Cool Pix and a Canon Powershot A70.
'Follow someone for ten minutes' took us back to M&S. A small plastic package of layered micro-waveable vegetables seemed beyond the pale. The couple we were following became suspicious. (Are Glaswegians particularly observant, or were we just really obvious?)
A break for coffee and comestibles saw us in Cafe Loco (or something). We all agreed that the manager was a cunt.
'Wander in a department store' found us in Watt Brothers, a veritable institution in Glasgow. If you've ever wondered where all the pensioners hang out, then we found it. Furthermore everything in this shop is crap!

On the whole the experience engendered by the Peripatetic Randomiser was strangely edgy and unsettling (and fun). Going against the grain of the shopping/retail/leisure combine was to step out of what are, for the most part, deeply-ingrained behavioural patterns. We didn't do anything illegal, but it felt like it somehow. The random and recurring nature of the commands forced us to re evaluate our relationship with the city. Instilling feelings of vague unease in shoppers by our actions was not the intention, but perhaps this is where the 'fun' involved in 'smashing the grid' becomes, in some small way subversive? Watching a group of people suddenly break into a run, then just as suddenly come to a halt, must have been disconcerting. But this was essentially a bunch of people going out to treat urban space as a site for imaginative play. Why on earth should that be subversive? It seems that it is.
The participants were: Sharon, Ariki, Cecilia, Glenda.

contact: the_blackdrop@hotmail.com

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