A Worldwide Wander in Borough Market

8th September 2017

Despite the rather damp weather on this Friday morning, we still had nine intrepid and inquisitive wanderers gather together, at one of the entrances to Borough Market, London. Amongst the nine, I was very pleased to be accompanied by two of my sons – Rory and Luke, who were a great help assisting and taking pictures.

This is the third time I have run a Street Wisdom walk in Borough Market, one of my very favourite places. The terrorist attacks of a few months ago were terrible and tragic, but in the aftermath, it is heart-warming to see the market so busy and buzzing.

All markets are wonderful places and their importance to individuals and communities, was nicely summarised by this piece in the Borough Market Magazine – The Social Life Of Markets. ‘In an era of food deliveries, click and collect and supermarket self-checkouts; everyday personal interactions that used to punctuate our lives aren’t nearly as frequent as they once were. In fact, it is quite possible, in a city packed with millions of people, to go for long periods of time without ever really talking to anyone.’

It was surrounded by this welcoming crowd and community that we gathered opposite Monmouth Coffee shop on Friday morning.

Our group had come in from all over London – North, South, East and West. A few had arrived with set questions that they wanted answers to, but some simply wanted to wander and see what the street had to say.

One of our group was looking to develop her business, which provides environments for carers with young children to gather together. Seeing groups of old and young people on the street, suggested the idea of old and young people meeting together, to the benefit of both. This could be done in old peoples’ homes, which would be affordable for low income families and provide a positive experience for the residents. What wonderful and inspiring idea!

Another wanderer was taking a work break, looking for new opportunities and perhaps a new direction. Seeing a large amount of green space suggested fresh opportunities, whilst a large sign declaring – ‘TAKE COURAGE’, instilled a sense of purpose.

Another person, dealing with writer’s block, found inspiration from a gargoyle carving demonstration, taking place at Southwark Cathedral. These stone masons were creating amazing sculptures from featureless stone blocks. If they could achieve this kind of transformation, then filling pages with words must also be achievable.

Another wanderer was looking to manage different life opportunities, following the conclusion of major exams and changes to their personal life. Although interesting new opportunities were apparent, there were so many it was proving difficult to prioritise. In this instance, benefit was derived from the ‘slow right down’ street tuning task and the exhortation to move so slowly that ‘we could feel the hairs on our heads growing slower and slower…’. This person felt the overall result was ‘seeing everything in front of me’ and ‘enjoying each available aspect.’

One individual, also looking at new opportunities, was seeking a path that appealed to them (alone) rather than one chosen, because it was respected by other family members.

There was a great deal of interest in repeating the Street Wisdom experience, either in groups or individually. We discussed ways that exercises could be done one, two at a time, to deliver shorter but effective experiences; and also how people could run events of their own.

Finally, I loved observations of Street Wisdom as a kind of ‘moving meditation’ and a technology that allows us to powerfully and effectively connect the present, past and future. What is now, what has been and what is yet to come. #loveborough.

Nick Hammond

@digital_filter