After a two-year hiatus, the most aimless walk of the century is back, with a party at the end of it.
In July 2019, a large group of well-dressed dandies, flaneurs, boulevardiers and quaintrelles set forth from the statue of Beau Brummell on Jermyn Street, London, on a long walk with no destination whatsoever. This was the first Grand Flaneur Walk, whose aim was to follow in the footsteps of the great flaneurs of history by walking entirely without purpose.
To inspire them and ensure that no-one accidentally or intentionally, tried to direct the group towards a particular destination, Mr. Temple read from Charles Baudelaire’s essay The Painter of Modern Life, in which the poet outlines the motive of the flaneur to wander the streets aimlessly, directed by nothing more than curiosity. “The crowd is his domain, as the air is that of the bird or the sea of the fish. His passion and his creed is to wed the crowd. For the perfect flâneur, for the passionate observer, it’s an immense pleasure to take up residence in multiplicity, in whatever is seething, moving, evanescent and infinite.”
This year, after two years of not being permitted to wander anywhere, with or without destination, the flaneurs are pressing their pantaloons, polishing their canes and cultivating new buttonholes again, in preparation for the next instalment of this aimless perambulation.
At midday on Saturday 14th May, all flaneurs are invited to join us again at the statue of Beau Brummell on the corner of Jermyn Street and Piccadilly Arcade, clad in their finest raiment. Something will be read to set the dandy heart ablaze before the walk, and give strength to those for whom physical exercise does not come readily.
Thus the flaneurs, encouraged by the thought of pausing at a hostelry within a few minutes, will set forth and wander as aimlessly as whim dictates, perhaps ending up in Soho, perhaps Dover. Naturally we cannot offer any form of route or stop-off points, should you wish to join us after the walk has commenced. Needless to say, the flaneurs will not be difficult to locate: simply look out for lots of flannel, a multitude of hats, walking canes and highly polished boots – which are usually used only for pacing from one end of a room to the other.
As in 2019, our London flan will be joined simultaneously in Dusseldorf, Germany, by our band of boulevardier brothers headed by Marie de Winter & Ferdinand Sturm. Full details for German speakers at wintersturm.com
The London walk will now be succeeded by a grand party at 6pm in the premises of our timepiece collaborators The Camden Watch Company, 31, The Stables Market, Chalk Farm Rd, London NW1 8AH. Those too laconic to join the Grand Flaneur Walk are invited to meet us at the Camden Watch Company for live music and revelry from 6pm on Saturday 14th May.
A short history of the flaneur, with reference to its original progenitors Baudelaire, Balzac and Andre Breton, may be read here