FLANEUR is a little project I’ve made for the BBC’s Contains Strong Language: a randomly-generated writing-exploration game that you can take part in. Each day of the festival I’ll be taking a randomised wander around Hull and posting a little poem about it. Head to Mixital to get your own instructions for a surprise, write a response, and share it with us. I’ll be reading and chatting about the responses on BBC social media channels each afternoon.
The growl and wheeze of city buses, tired
little dragons, settling to eat a bit
of flesh, dump a bit of flesh, grump their doors
and curse themselves on. Blinking at bikes,
scowling at silent black chelsea tractors — this city
was theirs once, giving its gold, and now a thousand
motors a minute bother their bones, slowed
to rumbling lurch…
___________________________but hey, here’s a straight
and a clear yellow lane: hear them fly.
1. Proceed gently for eighteen seconds.
3. Meander gently for a while.
4. Roll away from the sea for a while.
5. Take the fourth right.
6. Find the nearest seat and take a rubbing of it.
7. Roll towards the moon for a while.
8. Wheel east for two miles.
9. Go sideways for three seconds.
11. Take the fifth right.
12. Stop, find a comfortable spot, and write a poem about what you’ve heard.
13. Head back.
A little city centre walk, starting out at BBC Humberside, taking an eccentric loop through shopping and residential streets, before darting off to the river and finishing off with a dander through the old town. Not being a wheelchair user, I interpreted “roll” with a relaxed, dawdling gait; not being a river, I started out with a loopy wander round the fountain for “meander”. There was an awkward moment as I fumbled on my phone trying to figure out roughly what direction the moon was in, and I had my first cheat, being too hungry to walk for 2 miles and cutting it off early. Cheating is definitely encouragesd. A pleasant way to get familiar with the centre of Hull, its mix of big uncrossable roads, pedestrianised shopping, post-industrial and post-commercial spaces and grand old buildings. I’ll start nearer the edge tomorrow and see if I end up somewhere stranger.