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Let’s play “Blind Chivvy”

I was unaware of the game Blind Chivvy or psychogeography* as it is sometimes known. That was until I started to read a book called London Pilgrimages written in 1928 by Robert Thurston Hopkins. The book is quite a niche guidebook with seventeen chapters, one entitled Charlie Chaplin’s early days. I’d never heard of Hopkins and decided to find out more. Hopkins was a writer of mainly biographies on such literary notables as Hardy, Kipling, Wilde and H.G Wells. He also wrote guides to Sussex, Devon and Cornwall as well as a series on London. You could say that his writing was his day job, as his other passion was ghost hunting.

In a piece entitled The London Phantom he describes an evening out with a friend. Meeting at what was then known as the Bun House in the Strand, after a few sherries and possibly several Absinthes “we often played a sort of game which we called Blind Chivvy. The idea was to find short cuts or round-about-routes from one busy part of London to another by way of slinking alleys and byways which then were not well known to the average London man”. The piece goes on to describe how the pair encountered a terrifying apparition on their journey. The account is written in the early 1900s and possibly much has changed and so I think that when I have an hour to spare I might channel the spirit of RTH and with no planning or Google maps see where I end up and then write about my experiences.

* Psychogeography is an exploration of urban environments that emphasizes playfulness and “drifting” It has links to the Letterist, revolutionary groups influenced by Marxist and the attitudes and methods of Dadaists and Surrealists.

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