Urban Crawling – The Monument, London

While today’s urban climbers and psychogeographers attempt to access liminal anti-spaces, those opposed to elitism in culture are taking up urban crawling – that is to say they are visiting popular and crowded tourist spots. This weekend my urban crawl took me to The Monument on the north side of London Bridge. Designed by Christopher Wren in the form of a colossal Doric column and completed in 1677, it both commemorates The Great Fire of London and celebrates the rebuilding of the city.
For £3 you can climb the 311 steps to the viewing platform 160 feet above the ground. Since the Monument is a seventeenth-century construction there is no lift up and it is amusing to hear 20 year-old tourists complaining about the the effort required to get to the top. The staircase twists tightly and there is just room for those going up to pass those going down. The viewing platform still provides fine views of the city – the best of which is east along The Thames taking in both Tower Bridge and much beyond it.
The viewing platform is build around the outside of the column, it has room for people to pass each other and that is it. Once the numbers on the platform go beyond double figures it feels very crowded. While I was at the top of the Monument most of those around me were from outside the UK and seemed to see their elevated location as a photo opportunity more than anything else. As an antidote to the tedium that has attached itself to psychogeography since the discipline has been hijacked by would-be Booker Prize winners, you couldn’t do better than an urban crawl up the Monument.
And while you’re at it don’t forget to check – www.stewarthomesociety.org – you know it makes (no) sense!


Comment by dcn; on 2012-10-08 06:18:42 +0000

piss on the london stone while u r in the area too x

Comment by Ben Natas on 2012-10-08 15:37:37 +0000

You should have walked backwards up the 311 stairs of The Monument – that would have been more of a challenge and a thrill!

Comment by Vincent Johnson on 2012-10-08 21:44:15 +0000

Sounds like the perfect place for a suicide leap!

Comment by Lee Shaw on 2012-10-09 00:59:12 +0000

Classical columns are so passé!

Comment by Michael Roth on 2012-10-09 05:40:27 +0000

Last time I visited the UK, I did my fair share of Urban Climbing. Wandering the streets is certainly groovy, but it’s good to go vertical for a change. Of course, some of these “climbs” crossed over as Urban Crawls. With the right mindset, even those crowed tourists spots were a groove sensation.

Comment by Johnny Dollar on 2012-10-09 09:55:31 +0000

Is it true that Christopher Wren was the real founder of the Illuminati? If so better avoid places like The Monument and St Pauls Cathedral – they’re bound to be brainwashing devices!

Comment by Lucy Johnson on 2012-10-09 10:28:42 +0000

My dad took me up there when I was a kid. I thought it was fab. Do you mention that is has something to do with marking the spot where the great fire of London started?

Comment by Ryan Thirsk on 2012-10-09 11:10:48 +0000

My girlfriend went to The Momument and all I got was a lousy forged certificate saying I’d climbed all 311 of its steps.

Comment by René “The Jesuit” Descartes on 2012-10-09 11:58:44 +0000

I though the whole of earth and the other planets was anti-space… so there ain’t nothing but anti-space down here! Therefore urban climbers and psychogeographers looking for liminal anti-spaces are on a hiding to nothing.

Comment by Derek Raymond on 2012-10-09 13:33:13 +0000

Cock Robin is innocent. I blame that bounder Wren!

Comment by The Man in the Iron Mask on 2012-10-09 13:50:04 +0000

Without a word of a lie, I crawled up the Monument in 1958 under the tutelage of my aunt Enid. She saw something she didn’t let on about at the time. I now think that it was the Notting Hill Race Riots….
Ken Campbell told me in 1982 that Wren was a pseudo-Illuminati, one of a tiny group who let on they were members when in fact they weren’t. All will be revealed if you play Tupac’s KILLUMINATI on vinyl at 78rpm using a baby magpie beak as a needle. I was able to do this in 2007 when, lured by the green door of the pull-out pantry, a magpie became trapped in my kitchen.
Mr Trippy – can Nelly the Nudist be treated as spam? As Walter Benjamin said of naturism and Nazi sun worship (Mithraic illuminism), nudism is the revolt of the petty-minded.

Comment by Lucy Johnson on 2012-10-09 14:18:31 +0000

T M in the I M is on top form…

Comment by mistertrippy on 2012-10-09 21:42:17 +0000

Indeed. And frankly I’m astounded my spam filter allows Nelly The Nudist’s comments. And what Ken Campbell didn’t know about the Illuminati could be written on the back of a postage stamp. Although almost everything written about the Illuminati is of course complete rubbish….Sounds like you got up The Monument at least 10 years before my first climb…. but I’m unsure of the exact year, but just possibly it was 1970….

Comment by Marcus Rowland on 2012-10-10 01:36:43 +0000

They should have another Great Fire of London. Burn it all down!

Comment by Fernando Iturbide on 2012-10-10 10:04:44 +0000

Note the number of stairs!
311 is a twin prime with 313; an Eisenstein prime with no imaginary part and real part of the form 3n – 1; a Gaussian prime with no imaginary part and real part of the form 4n – 1; and a permutable prime with 113 and 131.
It can be expressed as a sum of consecutive primes in four different ways: as a sum of three consecutive primes (101 + 103 + 107), as a sum of five consecutive primes (53 + 59 + 61 + 67 + 71), as a sum of seven consecutive primes (31 + 37 + 41 + 43 + 47 + 53 + 59),and as a sum of eleven consecutive primes (11 + 13 + 17 + 19 + 23 + 29 + 31 + 37 + 41 + 43 + 47).
311 is a strictly non-palindromic number, as it is not palindromic in any base between base 2 and base 309.

Comment by Neville Punter on 2012-10-10 10:40:51 +0000

311 stairs = Christopher Wren invented hip-hop!

Comment by The Man in the Iron Mask on 2012-10-10 12:51:30 +0000

Fernando Iturbide, you have got your Alberts and Sergeis in a twist: an ‘Eisentein prime'(r) is FILM FORM AND FILM SENSE not some numeric bend in time/on the steps of the Monument… I do fancy, however, that if Eisenstein had done a remake of Feuillade’s FANTOMAS – a film serial he much admired – then he would have shot a sequence of Fantomas going up the Monument on the outside…
Did Einstein ever watch an Eisenstein film? Did Eisenstein ever bother himself with Relativity? Is montage the Theory in film form? For every 311 steps there are 39 questions.

Comment by Fernando Iturbide on 2012-10-10 14:44:02 +0000

The 39 Steps is just 272 too few! Alfred Hitchcock knew a thing or three about Eisenstein, mathematics and relativity too! Or at least he knew how to fake it……

Comment by Lucy Johnson on 2012-10-10 20:39:01 +0000

I must have been about 11-1982.

Comment by mistertrippy on 2012-10-10 22:37:44 +0000

A great thing to do at 11 or even 13 I’d say….

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