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Graeme Miller – essay    
Aloof aloft – the map’s perspective. Aloof aloft, the chart maker of British now culture has fallen into the map. Click – RUN VIDEO.

I am walking down the road with my son Gabriel. He is eleven years old and standing at the roadside rocking backwards and forwards with excitement at the traffic. Other people are soon aware and react visibly.

Clicketty click, staring glaring, smiling. The summary need to categorise this strange traffic-dancing boy is visible in the extreme. Clicketty SCARY, clicketty-OTHER, clicketty POOR LITTLE THING. P’leease! Caring for Gabriel, Mary and I have become the fast-readers of this file management, have learnt, as the grafted on sidekicks of this person to deal with misreading, dismissal, and learned to prefer the benign amusement of uncategorised curiosity to pity of any sort and have learned to walk tall, speak loud, dress up. It’s a kind of fancy dress that as it gets bolder becomes more invisible that suits this whereabouts where we have fallen into the map and have adopted tactics to deal with misreading and dismissal for race, gender, sexuality, whatever. It has taught me that the stereotype can be adapted as a kind of costume – a sort of Disabled Camp to wear out and about which allows you to be visible, but protected. As a Carer with Attitude we make a kind of theatre. Being in control of this whoever you are, makes you an artist. Which, really, makes everyone an artist. Is that where this is leading? Turn back.

Theatre works, music, surrender to rhythm. Ordinary Ecstasy – the Shaman’s ladder. Ladder Moments teetering with the Gods alongside Pants Down Moments, struggling with the laundry. Dungeness, The Desert In The Garden 1987, A Girl Skipping 1990. Teetering on the ladder of artist as mediator of spirit world. Fall to Earth.

I have fallen into the map of the Inner East End where 90% are poor enough, or newly enough arrived, or suppressed enough to know how to talk loud or melt away. I have fallen into the map and turn the corner, "All right?" It’s Elsie next-door who used to dance in the streets here. Someone would get a piano out of a house, drag it into the street and they would dance. I didn’t know that. Two doors away from the teenage boys whose booming bass she tolerates, she lives – the quiet queen of Street Dance Past. The next door boys are the callers of Street Dance Present. I am the orphaned son of a danceless culture sandwiched between the last flicker of Kneesup and the verbal arts of New Black Britain. But no-one actually dances. In Barcelona, they dance. In New York and Washington DC. The dancelessness of my native island worries me. It worried the revivalists, ramblers and socialists who tried to resuscitate a social culture. Suddenly, the small city corners of Old England Town seem to be teetering on the edge of its first steps of a new Country Dance. Right here, an estranged Englander, with my estranged American partner and my strange son I feel more at home than I ever have. There are somehow enough fallow spaces, enough cheap housing, enough council spending to allow a place of complex weave and clash of difference to emerge.

I look back at my work as cartographer, not with regret, but with a change of attitude. Earthbound, faces and buildings demand my response and force my participation. I have come to the party but not sure what as. I look back through this to a clearer and clearer understanding of my Anglo-Saxon culture that has done its colonising with the special and cruel tenacity of farmers gone mad in five continents where a special kind of cunning has allowed it to hold the balance of power to this day. It explains the quiet brutality of the landscape in which I was born and in which I live and the vacuum it has created at its own hearth. As its blood descendant, facing the world, this history streams behind me. A history of disguise – a gift to Native Americans of small-pox infected blankets – disguised – humiliation and suppression as gratitude and protection. It was at the time of Colonial expansion that peasant dances became popular at court – the vernacular was another continent from which to import and through the 17th and 18th centuries the vernacular weakened to peter out in the great self colonising of the Industrial Revolution. Even then a flicker of resilience – clogging on cobbles. The low culture was made high. Aloof. Above. Mapmakers. Map-owners.

The map-owner’s son has fallen into the streets that to the clicketty click of trying to categorise its changing each-otherness is in a slow dance of sussing-out. He has arrived in a costume that can only be worked out by others’ reactions. It worries me this dancelessness. Dancelessness creates a culture of worried introspection. Of hunger. Of worried, guilty, hunger that will acquire, but not surrender to other cultures. Personally, I feel it is easier to stand aside than join in, but that, in itself is an almost stereotypic reaction for my background. I sometimes imagine these streets to be flooded with rhythmic time that generates a compulsive beat so strong that it will force the dance...
and, I guess, force my participation...................
 
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