I have just read that May is National Walking month
. Today I walked just 8,000 steps, which is relatively few for me just at the moment. The article talks about writers walking for inspiration, but it is not just writers who find that walking helps them create - a lot of scientific writers made great discoveries when they walked too. The French mathematician Pioncaré walked to be inspired, and the physicist Leo Szilard famously realised the implication of the nuclear chain reaction when walking across a road in London.
Just recently I have been trying to walk more for another reason. It has long been bothering me that I drive in order to exercise in the gym. It seemed ludicrous and wasteful. So now I walk to the gym. The more often I do this the shorter the distance seems, and other walks to other places become possible so I do them too. I am surprised at how little extra time I need. I feel it is time less wasted. As I walk I notice things. In fact I believe that it is only by walking that I feel I can truly experience the place I live. I exchange a few words with people I meet. I notice smells, the way shadows fall on the pavements, the sounds of water flushing mysteriously beneath a stretch of pavement.
Today I walked mainly around a superstore, and then parked deliberately a long way from the Brewery Tap so I would have to walk to get there. It was around 9.30pm when I walked back. On the 'Dark Row' someone was playing music and the space was lit with small white lights. Frodsham Street, in contrast was dramatically quiet and dark. In the distance I saw a solitary man approaching. Before we pass each other underneath the scaffolding of an empty restaurant, he has become a mugger. I tighten my grip on my folded umbrella. It is either that or my hand bag. Maybe I will have time to whip it back and hit him once and then...we would grab my arm and stop me. He walks past. I don't risk eye contact. Then. just before Cow Lane Bridge, is the Oddfellows Arms. Three hundred years old. Happily still occupied and doing business. Inside an orange-yellow glow of light and the shadows of heads. On the wall one of those large metal pin-heads marking the end of a structural skewer. I imagine catching hold of it and turning. The pub turns and then Quakers' Meeting House, and then the shops behind that. They rotate, catch and slip, roof on the ground, floor pointing up to the sky, each side basting for a few moments in moonlight. Inside the people have given up trying to keep upright and laugh as they fall against the settles and bar stools, blaming the ale.
And to think I would have missed all this if I hadn't walked.