Along the Ledborough Road

No city should be too large for a man to walk out of in the morning.*

“Ledborough Road has, in recent times, become a mythical place to me. Though often empty of humans, its pavements are occasionally trodden by those who realise that walking is the only way to know the world; and by those who have never heard of the Tao, but nevertheless follow it instinctively. They walk, shamble, or shuffle along, stopping from time to time in order to peer over a tumbledown garden fence, at nothing in particular. Or get curiously waylaid by a trail left by yesterday’s snail or slug. They are also cognisant of how events in life are often beyond their immediate control, and willingly bow to the unknown’s greater power. An ageing cat appears from beneath a stationary car and demands attention by winding itself around the Ledborough wanderer. Or the fellow from number ten pops out to buy his loaf of bread, and tells anyone within earshot about the state of the skies, his wife’s sore throat, and the price of potatoes.

“Please don’t tell me that the ‘real’ Ledborough Road is nothing like that. Although, in all honesty, I won’t mind too much………”

I was delighted to get the above from Ian T, author of “Pale Green Vortex“. I’d like everything I write to add brush-strokes to a great mythical panorama, interpreted variously by each of the few souls who find their way to this secluded and part-fictional place.

I like the idea that creativity resides in the soul of artist and viewer/reader/listener. It may be inspired by what the senses perceive in the real world, but there is a transformation.

Art which is directly produced for the Community can never have the same withdrawn quality as that which is made out of the artist’s solitude. For this possesses the integrity and bleak exhilaration that are to be gained only from the absence of an audience and from communion with the primal sources of an unconscious life.*

Is there a ‘real’ Ledborough Road? Google Street View thinks there may be something similar. Distortion from its van-mounted cameras sometimes makes narrow streets look wider.

Each of the photos below can be enlarged.
led01a The wayfarer steps out from here, goes east toward the horizon
Then a short footpath to the street behindled05
Says IanT: “ I spotted a couple of Taoist sages standing and talking beneath a tree in one of the pictures. I say that, but who is to predict what a Taoist sage will look like?”—Too right. I could count up to six candidates in this pic aloneled07Ledborough Road proper starts here. The Second hand Furniture Centre used to be an “International Club”, whereby hangs a tale
. . . now it does indeed sell used furniture, as does the white building next door, for charityled09
at left, the computer shop which helped me lose my data, and find it again
here you can get a chapel of rest, car spares, fireworks, hardware & ironmongery
The Step-in Café begs loiterers to stay away, but they spill over from the congregations outside Mo’Fro barbers & the Coral betting shop bus Station & shopping mall in background. Buildings in the middle still await redevelopment—pic enlarged below

this is the eastern end. After a multi-storey car park, you go past the new university, police station, municipal offices and thence to a public park which will take you via the pedestrian route I’ve christened “the Valley Path” to Loudwater

From now on specialize; never again make any concession to the ninety-nine percent of you which is like everybody else at the expense of the one percent which is unique. Never listen to the False Self talking. Le néant d’avoir quarante ans* [on attaining his 40th birthday]

*excerpts from The Unquiet Grave, by Cyril Connolly (1944)

Postscript October 2018: Ledborough Road has changed since these Google street view pictures were taken. It will go on changing, like everything else.


2 thoughts on “Along the Ledborough Road

  1. I’ve heard of the Tao, but my understanding of it pretty much began and ended with how to pronounce the word itself. (When I was about 15 or 16, I was mistakenly going around saying tay-oh for awhile until I was set straight by hearing someone say the word aloud. Why I had any business going around saying the word at all is a forgotten mystery.)


  2. Yes, and I don’t claim to understand it either. Accordingly, I give Ian’s “Taoist sage” the broadest possible interpretation, as one who has renounced all quarrels with the world; who treats it as play, or a dance where you don’t get to choose your partner, for your partner is Fate. All you can do is offer your best steps


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