Laura Bissell

(Be)Coming to Glasgow: Reimagining my commute

“One must start by leaving open spaces of experimentation, search, transition: becoming-nomads.” (Braidotti, 2011:164)

The idea of reimagining my commute initially seemed driven by the desire to propel myself from the starting point of my home in Innellan, Argyll, to my place of work, the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland in Glasgow. Since September 2013, my colleague at the University of the West of Scotland, David Overend, and I have been working on a collaborative research project exploring commuting as a performative practice. Our research into commuting has indicated that while the mode of this is often a repeated journey for a particular purpose (normally to travel between home and work), as Tim Edensor asserts: “commuting time is not dead or neutral time that simply links more meaningful spatial contexts” (Edensor, 2011:194) but can provide a time and space for creative possibility. By completing the journey that makes up my commute (a 10-minute drive, a 25-minute ferry journey, a 45-minute train journey and a 10-minute walk) using only my own physical means I hope to reimagine this familiar and repetitive journey and experience anew the landscape through which I commute on a daily basis. I want to move through these spaces rather than be moved. My methodological approach is practice-as-research and is informed by Rosi Braidotti’s theories of nomadic subjectivity and Henri Lefebvre’s discussion of rhythmanalysis. I am interested in how the repeated rhythms of the everyday journey (the commute) relate to the wider critical discourse around nomadism. Braidotti claims that: “the point of nomadic subjectivity is to identify lines of flight, that is to say, a creative alternative space of becoming that would fall not between the mobile/immobile, the resident/the foreigner distinction, but within all these categories” (Braidotti, 2011:7). The etymology of the word “commute” is from the Latin “commutare” which means “to change, transform, exchange” (OED) and it is this process of “becoming” through the change in time and space that a journey permits that I hope to explore through my alternative commute.

My original plan to walk the 5.5 miles from my home to Dunoon, swim across the 2 nautical miles of the Clyde Estuary between Dunoon and Gourock and then walk the 27 miles from Gourock to Glasgow has been postponed due to inclement weather and the need to train sufficiently for the sea swim. On the 26th March 2014 I undertook a walk which represents the final two stages of my commute, the train journey from Gourock to Glasgow and the walk from Glasgow Central station to 100 Renfrew Street. By altering the pace of this two-hour commute to take place between 7am and 7pm – the hours of my usual working day – I intend to open this journey up to creative possibility, diversion and interruption. I hope to “become” something different through this process of journeying and employ Braidotti’s “myth” of the nomadic subject to “move across established categories and levels of experience: blurring boundaries without burning bridges” (Braidotti, 2001:26). I hope to learn something about my journey by undertaking this task, and for it to become something other than a functional and transitory commute through the spaces between home and work.

I leave my house at 7am, the usual time, and drive to my parent’s house on the West Bay of Dunoon near the ferry terminal. I had intended to cycle this leg of the journey but a flat tyre means that I have to make the decision to forgo the cycle to Dunoon or risk having to get a later ferry and starting the main walking leg of the journey behind schedule. I decide to take the car and console myself with the fact that I have walked, run and cycled this part of the route many times before, and will be able to complete this when I do the sea swim later in the year. I have a cup of tea with my parents and we discuss my plans for the day. They try to dissuade me from undertaking the entire journey and I placate them by telling them I will hop on public transport if I am tired (although I have no intention of doing this). I board the Argyll Ferry at 8:20am with a nod to the regular crew.

On the ferry I sit inside for a moment and then climb up the stairs on to the top deck. It is very blowy and no-one else has chosen to be outside. I think of Kathleen Jamie’s reflection in Sightlines about the temporal nature of the world and the enduring nature of the elements I am encountering: “The wind and sea. Everything else is provisional. A wing beat and it is gone” (Jamie, 2012: 242). I am aware that the boat crew have greeted me with quizzical glances as my normal work attire has been replaced with walking trousers, a turquoise waterproof jacket, a woolly hat and a backpack. My garments suggest “hillwalker” rather than “commuter”. I take some photos of the landscape as the boat speeds away from Dunoon and across the water towards Gourock. The Cowal Peninsula has a larger area of coastline than France and the intricate weaving of the shoreline around the various crags of land framed by the mountains behind makes for a stunning view, even in the early morning half-light. On my right I can see the Cloch lighthouse from where I will swim in June and I am aware of how I have looked slightly differently at the body of water I travel on every day since I decided to make the attempt. The triangular roofing of the new Gourock train station comes into view as the boat passes the outdoor swimming pool and the boat engine cuts out as the crew prepare to dock. On my usual morning commute there is little time to travel from the ferry to the train and often the rhythm of these moments is frantic and hurried as the commuters rush up the ramp and towards the station. Today, I head away from the station, and as I am about to walk around the cordoned section to allow me to move towards Gourock, the woman in front of me undoes the catch on one of the metal gates, opens it and walks through. Channelling Phil Smith’s renegade attitude to site as explicated in Counter-Tourism (2012) I follow her lead, glad of this minor transgression of the authoritative paths and designated walkways that the area by the water assigns.

In the short walk from the ferry towards the main street of Gourock, I find myself taking numerous pictures of the sea, the vessels on the water, the dilapidated pier and the row of boats lined up against the sea wall. I try to take a photograph of the Gourock sign but the sun is too strong and the sign keeps appearing as a black square against a luminous sky. The urge to record this experience is strong and I have to remind myself to allow the journey, rather than its documentation, to take priority.

Throughout the walk, the road signs and names of places signal the specificity of a recognisable place, but are often surprising in terms of my perception of the boundary or my expectation of where the area began and ended. I realise my usual journey is demarcated by the train stations and it is these place names that act as what Delueze and Guattari would term “points” (1988) and which punctuate the route. I find myself looking out for the train stations as signifiers of the progress I have made. I am reminded of Henri Lefebvre’s description of a day in Rhythmanalysis:

The use of time fragments it, parcels it out. A certain realism is constituted by the minute description of these parcels; it studies activities related to food, dress, cleaning, transport, etc. ... Such a description will appear scientific; yet it passes by the object itself, which is not the sequence of lapses of time passed in this way, but their linking together in time, therefore their rhythm (Lefebvre, 2013: 85).

The rhythm of my usual commute is determined by the four stages of travel, the different modes of transport and the associated pace/rhythm/environment, but within its four distinct sections there are sub-rhythms. For the train journey, the stations demarcate the rhythm of the journey in terms of the time and space between stops (initially long periods of travel and infrequent stops and then towards the end syncopated with short bursts of travel and frequent stops). While the pace of my walking remains largely the same, I still look to the road and rail signifiers to assert my sense of rhythm for my alternative commute.

Another key element that I encounter is the textual signage that provides information on location and direction along the route. Braidotti’s focus on process and “becoming nomad” is analogous to looking for a marker on a road or path: “the nomadic subject is not a utopian concept, but more like a road sign” (Braidotti: 2001:14). For much of my early route, particularly in the Argyll and Inverclyde stages, the road signs are supplemented by another with the Gaelic version of the town name. Often there are four signs which read as a list: district, town, PLEASE DRIVE CAREFULLY, and the Gaelic version of the town name. I notice that a large number of the signs also have stickers on them, added by people. Signs are objects that invite us to look at them for information or guidance, but these have been augmented by the public, creating an alternative meaning to that which was intended.What the signs are signifying is also in a state of becoming, the meaning malleable and open to interpretation, obliteration, and subversion.

8964283656?profile=originalThe journey from Gourock to Greenock is familiar, as the road on which I am walking is the vehicular route to the ferry. Although I have travelled it many times before, the pace of walking allows me to notice details such as street names that I have not previously discerned. COVE ROAD and CONTAINER WAY are new, while the familiar FUNWORLD sign on the side of an old warehouse seems bleak and ironic against the industrial brick façade. I am enjoying the act of solo walking through this area, although I feel conspicuous in my hiking gear, an interloper, a trespasser on these normative streets; a usurper of the everyday rhythm of this commute. My awareness feels heightened as I notice intricacies and details that I have previously missed and become aware of the specificity of this journey. A forlorn balloon (HAPPY ANNIVERSARY) in a bush catches my eye, the first of many manmade objects in the landscape that seems dissonant, the juxtaposition of colours and textures jarring yet not unpleasant. Moving through Greenock, the landscape is industrial and there are numerous decaying buildings, wastelands and areas fenced off (RESTRICTED AREA). There are multiple pieces of public art in Greenock, as well as further on in Port Glasgow, and I think about the choices that have been made in terms of the objects created for these sites and their relationship to the town and community. As though offered as a salve to the numerous Tesco outlets that permeate the area (four within five miles, two of which are superstores), the metallic sculptures of Andy Scott’s “wood nymph” and “Ginger” the horse seem somewhat incongruous alongside the other street fixtures and mixtures of architecture. I am struck by the sense of being able to see the sea at the end of every street that runs perpendicular to the main street of Greenock – this makes the journey more appealing than the public art that purports to “improve” the Inverclyde town centres.


8964283683?profile=originalI make good progress and pass Fort Matilda, Greenock West and Greenock Central rail stations. At the large roundabout at Ocean Terminal, there are signs to Wemyss Bay and the Rothesay ferry and I notice how frequently the place names in this area reflect the presence of the nearby water. The large Greenock spire is visible above the roundabout and the squat buildings that house Carpetright, KFC and SCS sit in stark contrast to the decaying and decadent Victorian architecture on the opposite side of the road. There are two lone daffodils in the wasteland next to the Tesco superstore and I think about nature persevering in this urban landscape. In Greenock there are many fences that separate the pavement area and derelict space. Signs read RESTRICTED AREA and DANGER OF DEATH and the metal bars are topped with barbed wire. The intention – to keep people out – is clear, but what goes on in these desolate spaces is less so, in these metallic containers discordant against the backdrop of sea and sky. As well as the constant presence of the sea throughout this stage of the journey, the large metal structures of the Greenock cranes remain visible in the distance for the first hour of my walk.

8964284065?profile=originalMy partner Callum had intended to meet me off the boat but is running late and we have a number of phonecalls and text exchanges as we try to synchronise my walking time with his train travel time. I think I will probably arrive at Greenock Central at the same time as him, but I realise I am making speedier progress than anticipated. Callum disembarks at Cartsdyke and I walk up to the roundabout to meet him. He waves to me from across the roundabout and I wave back. He is on the phone and I walk in silence, holding his hand looking at the large steel-blue crane and yellow McDonald’s arches against the blue sky. Callum is surprised how far I have come in the first hour and I feel pleased with my progress. We walk along by the noisy road passing car dealerships and Cappielow football ground where we watched a Greenock Morton versus Hamilton game last weekend. We notice the simplicity of the street names here: PORT GLASGOW ROAD and OLD GREENOCK ROAD (the old road to Greenock which is now the A8, running alongside the busy M8, which I will follow almost all the way to Glasgow).

8964284284?profile=originalWe arrive in Port Glasgow via a backstreet behind another Tesco superstore and find ourselves in the town centre. I recognise this as where the McGill’s bus from Dunoon to Glasgow stops. We pause at a circular bench for a sandwich (Callum has had no breakfast) and to use the public toilets. PORT GLASGOW TOWN CENTRE adorns a pebbledash wall with a Farmfoods shop underneath. I comment on what an ugly town centre it is. Callum reckons Motherwell is worse and I say I think Cumbernauld is officially the worst in Scotland – all examples of “new” town centres, built in the latter half of the twentieth century. Ahead, there is another piece of public art. This sculpture denotes a ship, a nod to Port Glasgow’s ship building heritage; now declined to almost nothing while the area surrounding the water is littered with the detritus of the era.

As we leave Port Glasgow, the next roundabout (NEW ROUNDABOUT AHEAD) offers the first point at which we have a choice of route to take – either along the A8 with no visible walkway, or along Glasgow Road. I am tempted by the shoreline and see a cyclist disappear along a makeshift path by Newark Castle. I think of Rebecca Solnit’s claim in A Field Guide to Getting Lost that “NEVER TO GET LOST IS NOT TO LIVE” but I am mindful of our time restriction as Callum has to work in Glasgow later. A look at the map reminds me that at this point we are supposed to cut up Glasgow Road towards Langbank. I resist the temptation of the waters by the “long bank” and we move away from the shore for the first time. Glasgow Road is very quiet and leads us away from the noise of the traffic and into a more residential area. There are a series of tenement buildings along this road and Callum and I are struck by how the clean and presentable red sandstone facings contrast with the open back close areas that are desolate, derelict and littered with rubbish, white walls streaked with dirt. What should be hidden is exposed, both to the road and the train line.

8964284664?profile=originalAs we walk I realise that a property I viewed when I was house-hunting lies between Glasgow Road and the water. I point this out to Callum. People pass walking their dogs and the sun beats down, reflecting on the water. Although this street is quiet and residential, many of the houses look uninhabited. We can see the train line and we soon pass Woodhall station, another marker on the railway route between Glasgow and Gourock. Across from this, there is a cemetery behind a high wall that must be hidden from the train as I have never noticed this before. The sign reads PORT GLASGOW CEMETERY and it is peaceful – we are the only people here. Next to the cemetery is an abandoned housing estate where the windows of all the buildings are boarded up. The place feels desolate. A sign to LANGBANK indicates that it is 3 miles away and we move on, excited by the prospect of lunch and a rest. As Glasgow Road rejoins the main A8, the noise of traffic is reintroduced as we walk along a narrow path that runs closely parallel. This area of the Clyde Estuary has some of the most beautiful views when travelling by car, but on foot the road is the dominant visual element and our conversation is hampered by the loud and incessant traffic. There is a sheer black cliff face along our right-hand side, on our left the busy A8; this part of the journey feels oppressive. The rock face is covered in a wire fence, assumedly to stop small rock falls landing on the path or road, but the impression is of the rock face as caged in, and the natural landscape as contained by a manmade metal grid. The rock formation is fascinating, with a smooth area of rock stretching horizontally along the jagged face. I wonder what natural processes over the years led to this striking aesthetic effect. There are a number of waterfalls and hundreds of almost open daffodils on the grassy verge beneath the rock face. It is very beautiful, although the noisy environment makes this part of the route more stressful and the traffic makes the rhythm of this section feel frantic.

8964284883?profile=originalWe walk past Findlaystone tree nursery with multiple conifer trees in various sizes, as well as cherry blossoms and fruit trees. At the end of the field there is a beautiful cherry tree, flowering early, the pale pink becoming more vibrant as we move towards it. This stretch of the A8 feels long, and it is a relief when we pass under the bridge at the final corner and can see the pretty village of Langbank on our right. We cut in to the village, moving away from the busy dual carriageway. We move past picturesque houses and well-kept gardens through quiet streets away from the busy A-road. This street also offers a slight elevation and there is a beautiful view of the Clyde estuary in the sunlight. Dumbarton Rock as a visible landmark is in sight now and Callum and I reflect on when we had driven there for a football match a few weeks ago. The car journey took 90 minutes from my house and we talk about how far we have walked already and how the morning has passed pleasantly and quickly. We can see Langbank train station and I point out a number of other houses I considered buying when I was relocating to the West Coast. I eventually moved much further out of Glasgow than I had intended and my current commute is substantially longer than the 36-minute train journey to Langbank and includes crossing the body of water visible now. As we walk through the village, I think about how much of my personal history is entwined in this route and how many autobiographical moments and memories have come to me at various points along this journey. Mike Pearson discusses the relationship between site and memory in In Comes I: Performance, Memory and Landscape (2006) and I think about this now as I show Callum a home that almost was; my offer was rejected. There is an empty space in the garden; the asbestos garage I intended to tear down has been removed by someone else.

8964284699?profile=original8964285456?profile=originalWe stop for lunch at the Wheelhouse in Langbank. Callum and I have a burger and a pint and enjoy resting our legs after the morning’s walk. We check the next stage of the journey online and discuss Callum’s departure at Bishopton; he is working in Glasgow city centre at 4pm. We set off refreshed for the hour-and-20-minute walk to the next railway station. The road begins to move away from the water and up an incline, elevating us above the estuary. The views are lovely and we walk above the train line now, the cables at our eyeline as we look back towards Dumbarton Rock. It has been a landmark for so long that as the image of the rock recedes and we move further inland, there is a sense of making progress as we move towards Bishopton. This section of OLD GREENOCK ROAD is very quiet and pleasant and signs for FARM TRAFFIC punctuate the quiet road nestled amongst rolling green fields. Approaching CHESTNUT ROUNDABOUT, I can see Bishopton in the distance as the fields transform into residential areas. The walk though Bishopton seems long, as we try to second guess where the railway station is, checking my phone (Callum’s ran out of battery in Langbank) and looking for electric cabling. We both are aware that Callum will be leaving soon and I will be continuing the walk to Glasgow on my own. When we find the pretty Victorian train station at Bishopton there is a 15-minute wait for the next train to Glasgow Central, so we sit on a bench and I take my boots off to give my feet a breather and organise the rest of our snacks for Callum to take to work. Callum asks how I am feeling about the next stage of the journey and I say I am feeling fine. The morning has been pleasant and I have been glad of the company. I wave him off at the station and with trepidation put my hiking boots back on, ready for the next stage of the journey. My blisters are already making me wince and I regret wearing my heavy hiking boots, as most of the journey so far has been on pavements and tarmacked surfaces. Trainers would probably have sufficed for the mainly urban terrain.

I hobble down from the station and back on to OLD GREENOCK ROAD to continue my journey towards Glasgow. Passing a FILLING STATION I walk towards the open road. I glance back and see a sign behind me that says GREENOCK 11 and I feel incredibly disheartened. I had estimated that I was over halfway along the 27-mile route, but this sign has made me doubt and I start to worry about the next stage of my journey. My feet are already very painful and as I begin to walk along the next long stage of the A8, the endless road yawning in front of me does nothing to allay my fears about the four or five hours of walking I still have ahead. This stretch of road is particularly brutal, with only a very small track next to the A8 that is often encroached on by branches and hedgerow. There is only a path on the left side of the road which means that traffic is coming from behind me and the whizz of vehicles means that I cannot listen to music for fear of being caught off-guard by an articulated lorry. Along this route there is also a lot of debris from car accidents and as I negotiate a path through broken wing mirrors, hubcaps and smashed glass along the grassy verge, my sister texts me, trying to convince me to hop on the next train and meet her for a beer in the sun. I think about how easy it would have been to get on the train to Glasgow with Callum, having completed around half of my usual commute by foot. This is the lowest point of the journey so far and I begin to doubt if I can complete the task I have set myself. Prior to doing this alternative commute, I had tried to convince myself that if I attempted the journey and failed it still would have been interesting in terms of my research and useful for our project, however I know I have also not really considered the possibility of failure until this moment. As I limp around the BARRANGARY ROUNDABOUT I decide not to stop again until I can’t go any further and persevere along the route. Fields stretch into the distance on both sides of the narrow road and I notice how different this landscape is to the seaside towns and hilly vistas through which I have passed so far. A blue traffic cone seems incongruous against the landscape, but I feel I am noticing these things less as my physical tiredness and discomfort becomes more pressing. Walking on the grassy verge is easier than walking on the hard surface and for the rest of my journey I travel on natural surfaces where I can, avoiding pavements and designated tarmacked areas for the sake of my tattered feet.

8964284480?profile=originalThe road rises above the M8 and I am struck by the familiarity of this section of the route, which had moments before seemed alien. Feeling like I have got my bearings I try to move forward with more gusto, telling myself that I must be near the airport. Sure enough, I see a plane taking off to my right and the road veers away from the M8, across country, towards Renfrew. Callum phones to see how I am getting on and I jokingly tell him I am packing it in, although I am sorely missing the company and my morale is low. His words of encouragement and claims that I am nearly at Inchinnan spur me on and I continue along the long straight road. Signs indicate I am at INDIA DRIVE and the landscape retains the fields on one side, while the other becomes an industrial estate with clean, white buildings running alongside the A8. At the end of one of the fields there is a large barn that looks like a church, enormous diamonds of stained glass glistening in the sun, which is still high in the sky. I can see a bus depot in the distance and even from far away I can tell that it is the McGill’s bus depot. McGill’s run a service from Dunoon to Glasgow; the bus picks up passengers in the town centre and then embarks on the Western vehicle ferry, before driving along the M8 from Gourock to Glasgow. When I told my dad about my intention to reimagine my commute, he suggested I walk for a bit and then get the McGill’s bus the rest of the way as he felt the journey was too long. I chuckle at the thought that I have inadvertently followed the bus to its depot on OLD GREENOCK ROAD. As I move through Inchinnan, there is more of a sense of the industrial and residential becoming visible within the landscape, as large buildings appear beyond fields and I notice the first shops and pubs I have seen since the Wheelhouse in Langbank many hours ago. I check my phone and realise that I am near Black Cart Water, a subsidiary of the Clyde and I feel a sense of achievement as I cross over first this river, and then another to enter Renfrew.


                                                                                  Arriving in Renfrew gives me a false sense of being near completion, as the sudden presence of pedestrians, shops, eateries and homes makes me feel as though I have reached my destination. I ponder at a queue of around 40 people outside a chip shop in the town square and move towards the pretty Alexandra Park, past some lovely floral scents and well-kept gardens. The residential area gradually recedes and the railings I pass have more rust than paint.

8964285287?profile=original8964286262?profile=originalAll of a sudden I realise I am in Braehead, and the large PORSCHE showroom glistens in the waning sunshine. Manoeuvring around the multiple roundabouts at Braehead makes me contemplate how this area is designed for vehicles and not pedestrians. As I wait at the traffic lights, I think about how I have not seen another walker since Callum and I left Langbank. The A8 does not lend itself to ramblers but I have encountered multiple cyclists all along the route. Braehead jars after the sleepy feel of Renfrew, as the rush hour traffic becomes noticeable and the concrete and metal of the environment permeate the landscape. There is also a considerable amount of rubbish in the areas around and between the roundabouts and the evidence of human existence and waste is much more noticeable than it has been at any other point. As I tramp past the DIAGEO factory, I become aware that I have rejoined the path of the M8 and the familiar motorway from which I had diverted after Bishopton has reappeared and is heavy with early evening traffic.

8964286288?profile=originalAfter passing a sign for Govan and Drumoyne, where my mother was born, a sign in the middle of a roundabout announces WELCOME TO GLASGOW. I photograph this, as I have many of the signs, but this one feels important as I have travelled through Argyll, Inverclyde and Renfrewshire to reach this point. As I walk around the roundabout, a WELCOME TO RENFREWSHIRE sign sits at the mouth of one of the exit lanes and I think about these intangible and unknowable boundaries that divide one section of paved ground from another. I think about Braidotti’s claim about nomadism:

Nomadism, therefore, is not fluidity without borders, but rather an acute awareness of the nonfixity of boundaries. It is the intense desire to go trespassing, transgressing. As a figuration of contemporary subjectivity, therefore, the nomad is a post-metaphysical, intensive, multiple entity, functioning in a net of interconnections (Braidotti, 2011:66).

I have enjoyed noticing the “non-fixity of boundaries” and experiencing the small moments of transgression during this journey. I have also been aware of a sense of fluidity of time and space as I have manoeuvred through the landscape and along the route differently than I would in my usual commute. My relief at reaching Glasgow is short lived as I realise I am still not even at the Clyde Tunnel and have many miles to go before reaching my workplace at 100 Renfrew Street in the city centre. I recall living in the west end when I was younger, and how impossibly far the walk into town seemed. Having already travelled around 22 miles the last section seems as though it may be the part that proves impossible. I feel physically exhausted and the adrenalin that has kept me going for the last few hours is starting to wane. Callum continues to send encouraging texts and ensures that he phones on the hour, while my sister texts saying that since I am in Glasgow now I should just hop on the bus and come to her house for dinner. I message her back, saying I would be disappointed not to finish, and continue my walk, a lone pedestrian alongside the multiple motorway lanes, busy with traffic.

8964286066?profile=originalI can see Ibrox football ground in the distance and Callum and I had been joking earlier that Ibrox signalled the “home straight”, however, it seems to take me forever to reach it and my feet are not only blistered, but my left heel seems to have burst open and the pain is excruciating. I am scared that if I stop to look at it then I will not be able to continue and so I keep going as the sun sets behind me. It has been such a beautiful day and the sunshine on my face has been lovely as I have made my long journey towards the RCS. I finally reach Paisley Road West and begin a staggering run, as I find this seems marginally less painful than a walk. A look at my map indicates that this road is a lot longer than I remember and as I jog past the food shops and pubs, the smells and sounds of the city infiltrate my nose and ears. I consider a bus, a taxi, and feigning completion, only to realise that I need to finish it on foot. Passing the GRAND OLE OPRY, I know I am close and approaching the waterway that I have followed for 25 miles. Sure enough, I pass Springfield Quay and cross the Clyde via the “squiggly bridge”, illuminated in the dusky light. I walk towards the town centre and past my sister’s flat on Argyle Street (where I used to live) and head up Waterloo Street. Once again I start to run as I push myself through the final stage of the journey. People have finished work and are going home as I manoeuvre my tired body up the grid-like streets of Glasgow towards my destination. Breaking out on to Sauchiehall Street in front of Marks and Spencer I turn the corner onto Hope Street, past Jack McPhees and across the traffic lights to reach the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland. It is 7:30 pm and I have arrived at my place of work after a day of walking. My journey has taken just over the duration of my normal working day and I have stopped three times to rest. Braidotti claims that “hope deconstructs the future in that it opens spaces onto which to project active desires: it gives us the force to process the negativity and emancipate ourselves from the inertia of everyday routines” (Braidotti, 2011:90). I had hoped that the physical challenge of enduring a day of walking to re-experience my commute in an active and embodied way would emancipate me from the “inertia of everyday routines” and as I think about my journey and the new sights and sounds I have encountered, the moments of autobiographical connection and memory, and the ideas I have about processing this, writing about this, talking about this, I know that the “transformative and inspirational” power of the imagination that Braidotti acknowledges has been made visible through the experience of walking my commute during the course of my working day (Braidotti, 2001: 14).



Braidotti, R. (2011). Nomadic Subjects: Embodiment and Sexual Difference in

Contemporary Feminist Theory 2nd ed. Columbia University Press.

Deleuze, G., & Guattari, F. (1988). A Thousand Plateaus. London: The Athlone Press.

Edensor, T. (2011). “Commuter: Mobility rhythm and commuting”. In Geographies Of Mobilities: Practices, spaces, subjects pp. 189–204. Surrey: Ashgate.

Jamie, Kathleen (2012). Sightlines: A conversation with the natural world. London: Sort of Books.

Lefebvre: Henri (2013). Rhythmanalysis: Space, Time and Everyday Life. London: Bloomsbury.

Pearson, Mike (2006) 'In Comes I': Performance, Memory and Landscape. Exeter: University of Exeter Press.

Smith, Phil (Crab Man) (2012) Counter-Tourism: The Handbook. Devon: Triarchy Press.

Solnit, Rebecca (2006). A Field Guide to Getting Lost. London: Cannongate.

Solnit, Rebecca (2001). Wanderlust: A History of Walking. London: Verso.

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