Saturday, 21 November 2009

Forgotten Solo Dérive

Saturday November 21st 2009. I set off at 4.59am from the Parkinson Steps, on my own. Still dark, although a few birds were chirping, anticipating dawn which was still a while away. There were more people around than I had expected; mostly students coming back from their night out. My original plan was to walk the periphery of the campus (as shown on the map), to see how defined the edge of the campus is in real space, as compared to how it appeared on the map. I was also interested in how long it would take to walk around the university's circumference.

My secondary project (Freud always thought it useful to have a secondary project) was to look for university signs giving prohibiting instructions. As it turned out, this didn't reveal anything particularly interesting, so instead I decided to look for buildings that appeared on the map to be university property, but actually turned out to not be.

I did notice quite a few more of the monolithic university signs that are so commonplace within the campus boundary. While I do find them attractive, they do have a flavour of Kubrick's 2001, and are quite imposing. I guess we (the students) are the apes surrounding the stone (wisdom) and developing our tools (knowledge). I don't propose to continue the analogy, as it's too disturbing to contemplate.

Students beating their chests to get what they've paid for...

I found a large part of what appears on the map as the campus space dedicated to the NHS: The Mount. The NHS Choices website does acknowledge the existence of this site, located in Hyde Terrace, but provides no information on it, although one person seems to have 'rated' it. Further searching revealed it is for mental health teaching.

At one point, while photographing a clamping sign, I heard a man coming up behind me - I'd previously seen him pulling into a car park nearby. He asked me if he could help me, which translated basically means 'what do you think you are doing?' I told him I was a student doing research. He told me not to photograph the place next door, which he called 'Covance'. I actually hadn't noticed it, so then became interested in it. The sign said 'Covance. The Development Services Company.' which sounds very innocuous and actually turns out to be a clinical pharmaceutical company which carries out trials here, on students (people desperate for money) – particularly in anti-obesity and dental pain (possibly considered to be a target group due to their perceived as stereotypical lifestyles). The sign is clearly hiding that it is drug-related as it only says ' Development Services Company', where the website says 'Drug Development Services Company'. Interesting.

Covance Website

Drug Trials at the University of Leeds

Another business space I saw was near the business school: It is a business centre. This is what the website says “Find out how close operational links with the University of Leeds and a personal touch from our staff really do make us different.”

The Leeds Innovation Centre

While walking towards Clarendon Road I saw a small sign attached to the wall saying 'isg' and an arrow. If you type in: isg leeds university into google, the first return appears with this headline: “ISG Wins £4m Leeds University refurb contract”. It turns out the ISG (Interior Services Group) are completing the final stages of refurbishment on the Michael Sadler building (according to the front page of Construction News), so perhaps the sign points towards the site office.

Constructions News on the “refurb contract”

Another link says that ISG are also doing the landscaping for the new childcare centre. So that's another £2.5m for them!

Building Talk on ISG's coup on the childcare centre

In total I saw four foxes on my walk: two crossing Woodhouse Lane and two near St Georges Field. Other nocturnal beings were a man working for Metro, the bus company, whose job was to clean all the bus stops. I went to the Metro website to see how much he might be paid, but the only vacancy was for a Bus Station Manager £23,489 - £28,579 per annum. I was also asked if I had a light by a young man who crossed the road to ask me. I said I was sorry but I hadn't and then he swore quite angrily, I was worried for a few yards that he might be behind me (originally he had been walking in the opposite direction), but it turns out he wasn't.

It was a short dérive and I was back at the steps by 5.37am. I headed into town to get breakfast at probably the only establishment open at that time. I noticed that the Rusty Building has a red light on top. I have decided to rename the building the Ginger Building in order to support the minority group.

The Ginger Building

After eating I walked back to Headingley. I suddenly realised that since I'd left home a mist had descended.

Note: The dérive has been named the Forgotten Solo Dérive as I forgot to pick up the customary souvenir.

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