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  • Writer's pictureBen Thomas


I have been blindfolded, shoved in a car, and thrown out at an unknown location. I have no idea where I am or what distance from home I now stand at. I know what you are thinking. This was not a kidnapping though. This today is a psychogeography exercise.

I am surrounded by what I deduce – down to how long I was in the car for – as Oxfordshire countryside. Thistles, berry bushes, a dirt track road, a couple of farmyards, metal gates, stiles, herds of cattle. These are immediately viewable after I remove my blindfold and my girlfriend Izzy speeds off in her deep blue Ford Focus. You may be assuming we have had an argument of some sort. No. To increase the randomness of my strolls I have asked Izzy to secretly pick random places on a map – within three miles of home – and drop me off at them. I am armed with only my OS map, a compass, and a bottle of flavoured strawberry water. Now I must make my way home using only these tools. Psychogeography has always felt like a form of time travel to me. This use of older techniques only heightens that feeling. In my present world Google maps does not exist, Bing maps does not exist, Apple maps does not exist. Only my paper map and - akin to famed explorers of the past - the real terrain around me exists.

I start to examine my map and along with using my senses I begin to figure out the mystery of where I now stand. I smell manure, that does not help – there are loads of fields covered in cow shit around here. I can hear motor traffic – a lot of it – to the West. The distinct deep rumble of a motorway gives me the sense that I am reasonably close to the M40. I know if I head towards this behemoth of a road – connecting Birmingham and London – then I will slowly be able to find my way back home. I use my compass and my ears and deduce that following the narrow track road ahead of me should loop round to the motorway. I take a sip of my water and begin my course, scratching my leg immediately on a thorn bush as I move to the side of the road to avoid any potential cars that may have strayed from the motorway. I bleed a little, but it is nothing, and I move onwards.

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