From Whitecross Street to Falmouth Harbour & Back Again!

Reader let me take you by the hand to Whitecross Street… are the words with which nineteenth-century writer George Gissing begins his first novel Workers of the Dawn. In Gissing’s time Whitecross Street was synonymous with poverty but now it boasts art galleries and a regular farmer’s market. Just down the road is the site that provided Gissing with the title of another novel New Grub Street. Today this road stops dead where it hits the Barbican complex and what is left of it is called Milton Street. Grub Street was once the favoured home of London’s hack journalists and other impoverished writers; it was originally called Grope Cunt Street because of the broken down prostitutes who plied their trade within it. Nearby lie the sites of the notorious Jack The Ripper murders, the graves of William Blake and Daniel Defoe, and an art scene that thrived in the 1990s and is now dying on its feet. Mostly the northern and eastern edges of the City of London are gentrified but there are still notoriously ‘dangerous’ areas such as Murray Grove….
All of which goes to show that whenever I spend time away from London, my thoughts fix firmly on the city in which I was born. I’ve just been staying at The Grove Hotel in Grove Place, Falmouth. My room was rather too traditional for my taste; it had embossed pale yellow wallpaper, dark furniture and a print of a country landscape with a river and a bridge above the bed. For my comfort, the bed had ‘been fitted with a revolutionary Tempur memory foam mattress which experts recommend saying that as it moulds to the body it produces the best conditions for a good nights sleep.’ The service was friendly and the breakfast good.
On Tuesday, 12 May, 2009 I gave a lecture for Exeter University at The Old Chapel on the out of town Tremough Campus. The promotional blurb for this ran as follows: “Taking up from the network of 1990s humorous anti-capitalist groups covered in my book Mind Invaders, would it make sense today to form a Falmouth Psychogeographical Society, or revive the Kernow branch of the Association of Autonomous Astronauts? Has the currently active and London based International Necronautical Society moved the work of these earlier groups forwards, or has it reversed into antiquated literary and philosophical positions? So by looking at these groups and their relationship to the historic avant-garde, I’d like to shift towards seeing what a new group based in Cornwall might look like…”
The following day I ran a workshop on Network Platforms and Collaboration at the Woodlane Campus of Falmouth College of Art. This was billed as: “Taking forward the ways in which I’ve been working collaboratively on the web. The starting point is the “Tree Sex Girl Network” developed in 2007 with Paolo Cirio and Tatiana Bazzichelli, which was hosted via MySpace profiles and YouTube videos and was an entirely fake network of “bot girls” who claimed they liked making love to trees and listening to breakbeat. As part of the workshop we will produce blueprints (using video, photography and texts) for some new fake social networking profiles and critically reconsider the project’s characteristics.
After everyone had talked through their various experiences with Web 2.0, we collectively decided to make profiles for the unborn babies of celebrity mothers, so that the foetus could find its own voice online! You can now view these profiles live at a social networking site near you! Although some of the tree sex girl material placed online is no longer available, if you want to check it out try the following addresses:
I didn’t meet any tree sex girls during my trip to Cornwall, although I did get to spend some time with the legendary Nigel Ayers of Nocturnal Emissions. There was also much merriment with Alex Murray, Kate Southworth, Magdalena Tyzlik-Carver and many others. A couple of bars have opened in Falmouth since I last visited the town, and both these new ventures – The Town House and The Tap Room – boast reasonably modern decor and a friendly atmosphere. I also spent time in The Steam Packet which I’d not visited before, and reacquainted myself with several other drinking establishments. Since my last sojourn to Cornwall, Woolworths had closed down but otherwise Falmouth seemed pretty timeless. It’s a nice place to visit but personally I much prefer living in London….
And while you’re at it don’t forget to check – www. – you know it makes (no) sense!


Comment by Michael K on 2009-05-14 09:18:42 +0000

And while you were away an anonymous caller rang the Big Blogger House to tell your ventriloquist doll girlfriend Tessie that you were having a threesome with some new friends you’d made in a bar in Falmouth. If I were you I wouldn’t come back to the Isle of Dogs until she’s had time to calm down… I’d give it at least a week if you want to play it safe.

Comment by Ricardo Terrori on 2009-05-14 11:24:21 +0000

That’s the London I want to drift with the London Psychogeographical Association using a map of Santiago before they re built it in Neo Tokyo.
And I don’t want to be sexist, but London prostitutes are such beautiful dolls.
No, 87% of english women are georgeous, when they don’t eat too much marmite.

Comment by Michael Kearney..I mean…Rebecca Lu Kiernan on 2009-05-14 15:44:30 +0000

I inveted tree sex girls back in 1986 while at Art College and have the videos to prove it. No…SERIOUSLY!!!!

Comment by Michael K on 2009-05-14 15:56:38 +0000

And Whitecross Street has always been one of my favourite streets in London…because my renting agency moved from Walthamstow to there and so I had to go down there to pay the rent in, like, 1996 which is how I started getting cheap CD’s and last month’s Multimedia magazines with the cover-mounted CD-Roms that would often contain stuff I could deconstruct and re-sell to aspirationists at various corps trying to get with the multimedia zeitgeirst. Sheesh…and Prince, David Bowie and Peter Gabriel were all competing to be the first out with a ‘multimedia cd-rom’ when in fact X$X had brought out ‘The Black Room’ in 1993 only for KLF fans to think it was a blank CD..
Streuth…it’s all coming back to me…
Can you see who I am yet?

Comment by Michael Roth on 2009-05-14 16:42:39 +0000

Tree sex girls were a groove sensation! I’ve planted many trees with the hopes of attracting them. But … they weren’t “real” … I guess I couldn’t see the forest for the trees …

Comment by The Real Tessie on 2009-05-14 23:27:14 +0000

And in case you haven’t noticed I’m not even talking to you!

Comment by mistertrippy on 2009-05-14 23:41:45 +0000

So why are you leaving comments here if you aren’t speaking to me?

Comment by The Real Tessie on 2009-05-14 23:46:53 +0000

I didn’t say I wasn’t typing to you, I said I wasn’t speaking to you, you know, using my voice to communicate. What is it you don’t understand about the word talking?

Comment by The Phantom of Death on 2009-05-15 00:02:58 +0000

Could you have a bit more splatter in your posts? There just isn’t enough gore in this for it to work for me!

Comment by Ricardo Terrori on 2009-05-15 04:18:28 +0000

Just wait. I’m going over the marmite again!

Comment by Michael Roth on 2009-05-15 04:58:57 +0000

How did the lecture go? Was it well received and/or did it promote some discussion afterwards? The workshop sounds interesting. Are there any links to the unborn baby profiles yet? Sorry, lots of questions.
As an aside, I regret not making it down to Cornwall when I had a chance.

Comment by mistertrippy on 2009-05-15 10:05:38 +0000

The lecture went well, or people seemed happy enough at the drinks reception after, but maybe it was just the free drinks! Workshop definitely got a good reaction… and the results are on a social network you are on Mike (not MySpace). If I haven’t already I’ll get mine to invite you and you can look at that and friend request there others… Samantha’s coming to get you Michael!

Comment by Tim on 2009-05-15 13:13:11 +0000

Nice post. Never been to Falmouth but tramped through that area of the City quite a bit on the way to work last winter so know it (all too) well. Good to get some background on a time when it wasn’t quite so . . . now.

Comment by raymond anderson on 2009-05-15 14:37:31 +0000

That memory foam is exactly how the Telegraph got its information.
When I lived in Enfield back in ’95 we called it New Falmouth..all those nurses on the make…

Comment by Christopher Nosnibor on 2009-05-20 18:26:41 +0000

I heard the Tree Sex Girls were branching out…
Just been reading Nigel Ayers’ book ‘The Bodmin Moor Zodiac’ as it happens. Could perhaps do with a few more pubs on some of the routes, but good fun nevertheless…

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