Last day in the US. Teaching on a short course for researchers within the Veterans Administration at the Grand Wyndham Hotel in Downtown Pittsburgh. In a conference room cut off from the outside world with air-con set to ‘artic’.
Lunch break was 1 hour 15 mins. I step out of the hotel into a beautiful sunny, beyond baking hot day. Slightly disorientating. Everywhere I look people are wearing yellow and black. Walking across the park in front of the hotel. It’s Sunday. The Steelers are playing. I walk in the same direction. Across the yellow bridge. Towards the stadium.
I’m told/observe a few things.
American football is a family event. People head over to the stadium hours before the game for the atmosphere, pre-drinking and eating. Very, very few people do not wear the kit in some shape or form. You can take alcohol into the stadium but no bags (other than clear/plastic bags).
I saw one policeman on a bike. Looking totally out of place. As if he was passing by on his lunch hour.
A retired player posed for photos with fans. The queue was enormous.
“Get your phones out and ready” people were told. No charge. A snap or two. A ‘terrible towel’. More cheer.
I wandered back towards the yellow bridge. To the beige hotel (in the photo below) for the final sessions in this marathon trip.
What a backdrop. What a city. What an extraordinary journey…
I’d have found this a bit morbid a couple of months ago, but I love Wolvercote cemetery. It’s a comforting, fascinating, unusual and beautiful space. I suspect I’ll end up taking a shedload of photos there. A ‘Wolvercote series’. Apologies to those of you who get naffed off when it’s a photo post. The pics are almost as cathartic as the writing.
Yesterday was an example of a perfect, late summer evening.
I dipped back into Goffman’s ‘Relations in Public‘ this week, as a tasty little treat between Candy Crush lives. He writes in the preface; ‘Throughout the papers in this volume unsubstantiated assertions are made regarding the occurrence of certain social practices in certain times and among peoples of various kinds.’ Hilarious. The man is a legend.
I love his reflections on how we ‘co-mingle’ in public places. Mostly in an orderly fashion with our ‘use space’ commonly respected and reciprocated. He kicks off with some reflections around how we manage to walk around, often in crowds, without colliding into one another. And how what seems like a random activity – hundreds of people walking along Oxford Street, for example – is ordered and social. We constantly ‘scan’, ‘body check’, exchange ‘critical signs’ to signal a manoeuvre and engage in ‘near-simultaneous parallel adjustments’. We ‘step and slide’ through tacit agreement with others present making an often seamless display of togetherness. We could wrong foot people, or not play by these rules. We could engage in collisions and disruption but tend not to. Why?
The Goffmeister says the gain to be achieved doing this isn’t much, so trust is sustained.
The reason I’ve been revisiting this fantabulous book is because orderliness, manoeuvres and lack of collision are always visible in the photos I snap when I’m out. Love him.