This praxis involves personal thoughts and stories. If you don't like that, you're probably on the wrong site. This is also a rather patchwork praxis; a jumble of different ideas and methods; an assortment of lost pieces from different puzzles that never quite come together into one solution. Some of these pieces don't really match the task description, some do. Some were successful, some weren't.
In short, this praxis is a bit of a mess. The one factor that holds it together is a sense of loss; things I am leaving behind.
This first part was written back in June:
Very soon, I will be leaving school. A chapter of my life is coming to its conclusion. As I sit through my last assembly, eat my last school meal and attend my last sixth form games, I realise that it's the end of an era.
I will miss school. Not the place itself so much, more the people. There are so many people I interact with every day who I will most likely never speak to again, or at least not to the same extent. Obviously I'll try to keep in contact with the best of them, and I hope I'll never loose contact with my closest friends. But all those acquaintances who I don't necessarily talk to much still mean something to me, and they will be gone. Then there are teachers. I'm not ashamed to say I will miss some of these great people who have taught me much of what I know.
And with the end of school comes another loss. My daily pilgrimage, as I call it, is a nice route to walk. I have been walking it for four years or more; I forget when exactly I chose it above other possible routes. It takes me through a large park with a golf course, along a couple of roads and through a crematorium. There are people on this route who I see regularly and in some cases talk to. This too will be lost when I leave school for good.
I needed to find a way to say goodbye to this part of my life and in this task, I think I found it. I made "Thank You" notices of varying types for different aspects of all I will be leaving behind.
First up, the route I walk to school. I made several posters with simple thank you messages. Some of them apply to more people than others, and some are just a general thank you. They all have 'SFØ Bureau of Gratitude' written across the bottom, along with the logo and web address. Because I'm still sort-of-trying to get a team. In fact, the Bureau could become useful for a future completion of this task
Firstly, I had 'Thank You for not cycling'. There are signs already in place around the underpass telling people not to cycle through it. For the most part they get ignored. Hopefully my new posters will be noticed, if only by those who do dismount, because they really deserve gratitude for not being annoying and dangerous.
In the same semi-ranting way, I made 'Thank You for indicating' signs. There is a crossroads on my way to school at which about half the cars do not signal which direction they are going in. I make a point of only waiting for cars who let me know where they're going. It hasn't got me killed yet
I moved on to thinking about people who deserved thanks. I have always maintained that my favourite type of person on the way to school is the friendly golfer. So I made a 'Thank You friendly golfers' poster.
Then I came to my favourite individual people on the route. A brother and sister who go to another school in the area. I always pass them on their way to catch a minibus. They seem very friendly people, and we greet each other in the morning. Despite this, I don't actually know them. I regret not trying to. These two, I decided, should get something more personal than a poster on their street. So I wrote them a letter (I happen to know which house is theirs).
On the subject of letters, I realised that some people who deserve gratitude more than most are postal workers. They collect and deliver mail in all weather, and are hardly ever thanked. I wrote a poster to this effect to be placed on the postbox I have used for many strange packages.
Now I must sadly report that all the posters, with the exception of the 'friendly golfers' one, were gone by the day after they were put up. Some within hours, in fact. I don't know what made people object to them. I found a couple of them crumpled on the ground, some distance from their original positions. Maybe the ones stuck up with bluetac simply fell, but I know that the ones held on with string were taken down on purpose.
After that, I ground to a halt rather with this task, knowing that what I had wasn't particularly good. I was going to do some kind of thank you notices for people at school, but I didn't. I got each of my favourite teachers a slightly odd gift instead. And this task was thown into the failures bin at the back of my mind.
But now I am about to start university, and I will be leaving behind not only things associated with school, but Bournemouth as a whole. Obviously I will come back to visit, but it may never again be my proper home. This may be the last task to be associated with BMTHØ (a team which, I will admit, shows one of my greatest failures in this game). The following are a few thankyous I've issued over the last week.
The first thankyou comes in the form of one of my (now self-proclaimed trademark) "Player Portrait
"-style drawings. This one went to my saxophone teacher, who deserves a lot of thanks for putting up with me. I'm not actually very musical, you see, I just enjoy playing.
Now I will introduce my A level tech project. It is a sign for adverts, designed for my local corner shop.
It was always my intention to dump it outside the shop anonymously as a present. To tie it in with this task, I put a thankyou notice inside it, along with a note to the shop owners explaining what it was and why they had it.
This sign has now become a gift to say thankyou for a great community service, and the notice will be publically displayed until the shop staff move it.
Before giving it to them, I had to make a few cosmetic improvements. While the paintwork was good enough for photos, the edges around the plastic were messy. I cleared them up.
Then early one morning, before the shop opened, I enlisted the help of my sister to carry the sign down the road and leave it outside.
The Final Thank You
This is the story of how, on a typically British rainy day, I set out to mark the final 'thank you' for this task. It was also a sort of farewell tour of Bournemouth. I travelled by bus to the town centre. Incidentally, I think being a bus driver is the job which gets the most 'thank you's.
When in the town centre, I walked around a bit. I tried to find some surfaces to write 'thank you' on with a permanent marker, but everything was too wet. I stumbled across St Peter's Church, and finally found something I'd been looking for over a year ago as part of Ariadne's Thread
. I reckon it's a new plaque; I'm sure it wasn't there when I was looking...
I moved on through the gardens, where the river was overflowing onto the lower footpath.
Finally, I arrived at the seafront. Through the driving rain, I could see surfers tackling the large waves around the pier.
I've never seen the beach so empty, probably because in the past I've been sensible enough to stay inside when the weather's this bad. I'm not much of a beach person anyway, so I don't often see it as it is. When I stepped out onto the beach, the wind picked up, and my hood wouldn't stay on my head. So I ended up getting rather wet.
I found a suitably blank bit of the beach to accomplish my task of thanks. This was the reason for coming out on such a horrible day.
From an angle like this, it's not as clear as I'd like it to be, but it's still relatively easy to see what it says. The weather's cleared up a bit now, so I'm hoping some people will walk along the beach and appreciate the message before it is taken by the sea.
I then struggled up the steps to the top of the cliff through gale-force winds and torrential rain. From the top, my message was visible in the sand:
I headed for the shelter of a bus stop. I couldn't see through the rain on my glasses, my camera lens was fogging up and my jeans were plastered to my legs, but I had completed the mission.
That's right, I put myself through an hour of Britain's worst weather just to write 'thank you' on a beach. This is definitive proof that I am mad.
So it's goodbye to Bournemouth, for the moment. Next time I speak to you I will be in Reading.
(Shameless self-promotion: VOTE FOR ME!)