15th March, 2018
The sky an ominous grey, I headed out in the direction of Star Road. My aim was to get to an underpass I had spotted on my way back from Fengate the other day.
I followed Wellington Street, towards Star Road. In between the police-station-like building of the YMCA and the fairly unremarkable Grace Tabernacle Church, was a gate. The access point to the gas holder that rises up magnificently above these buildings. The gate was locked of course. The gas holder dominates the immediate vicinity, part of it nearly always visible from the surrounding streets. A giant liminal imposition, which cannot be ignored.
On Star Road I took a right turn at Mr Tyre. This business occupied the old church(?) building featuring the stones with cryptic phrases carved into them (A.C. Ashpool for Stangroud etc). The street I turned into was non-descript, mostly residential, save a school/mosque building with an impressive green dome, and opposite it the Peterborough indoor bowls club. The street was a dead end to cars, the two side roads at the end being cul-de-sacs. I had emerged from one of these on my walk last week, but couldn't recall which. The first one I tried was the wrong one. The other looked more promising when I saw someone heading down it onto what looked like a footpath. I was about to follow when I noticed another man, talking to himself. He was carrying several plastic bags and looked like a dilapidated train spotter. He shouted something intelligible at the other man, who ignored him, before heading down the footpath himself. Not wanting to engage in any sort of situation with the possibly deranged man I headed back on myself and back onto Star Road. Here I found what looked like a connecting path heading in the direction of the underpass. I started following it. I was quickly repelled back when I saw Trainspotter Man heading my way. I don't know why I was so keen to avoid an encounter with him. Chances are he would have ignored me and walked on. But I didn't want to take the risk. The path was isolated from view and felt a bit dangerous. But it was lunchtime, broad daylight and Trainspotter Man didn't really look threatening. I was disturbed that I had fleetingly felt mild 'Daily Mail panic' about continuing down the footpath, when there was really very little to fear.
I headed back across Star Road to where the footpath carried on along the other side of the gas holder, between it and Boongate, a main road heading into town. For some reason this path seemed less ominous, I suppose because it was more open. I passed a group of men in hi-vis picking up rubbish, community payback or council contractors, I couldn't tell. They were near an inexplicably fenced off triangle of scruffy grass adjacent to a house but evidently not part of it's garden. Behind the house another small fenced off area contained graffiti and a discarded mattress.
Then the path opened out onto a slightly hillocky expanse of green in front of the gas holder. I tried not to consider what might be buried under the small mounds as I crossed one to get a better view.
There was a strange white stain down one side of the gas holder, as if a gigantic pigeon had deposited it's wears. There was nobody evident in the compound. Nobody about at all apart from the cars heading along Boongate.
Likewise in the Wellington Street car park, where the liminal atmosphere continued. Partly due to the presence of the gas ring, partly due to faded notices for car boot sales, like faded circus adverisiments, and partly due to the non-presence of people, just a sea of static cars.
I wrenched myself out of the gas holder's liminal field of gravity and went back to work.