Saturday, 2 May 2009

The Next Big Idea?

This is not the first time I've written about walking the dog. Not my dog, you understand: "the dog" is usually one of two possible dogs I take for a walk when their owners can't. I'm a cat person myself, and don't relish the thought of owning a dog of my own although, if I'm honest, I've got quite friendly with the two dogs in question.

I may not be one hundred percent sold on dogs but I do enjoy the walking: especially when it involves -as it does at the moment- moonlit walks across fields on windless nights. For some reason, the light and the stillness imbue the landscape with a magical quality that I sometimes experience when I look at a room reflected in a mirror. (It's the only way I can describe it and I suspect that mine is a common experience). The outdoors feels as comfortable as my living room and the sky infinitely more interesting than the TV. I want to stay out all night (although I never get round to it and usually have a good reason to need a good night's sleep) and I begin to fantasize about cloaks and wonder why they ever went out of fashion. A good heavy cloak with a hood would be almost as good as a tent, with none of the drag of getting out the poles and pitching the latter. You'd just pull the cloak round you and pull up the hood. The train of thought is always the same. I'm sure you could design a cloak full of all mod cons: well, spacious interior pockets and a light, at least. OK, so a bathroom would be a bit much but who needs a bathroom when they're making themselves comfortable in a field? I'm always reminded of an exhibition we visited a while ago about the work of the ARCHIGRAM group of architects: as they put it, "the solution to an architectural problem is not necessarily a building". People wear space-suits in space, so why not "earth-suits" on earth, suits which would do away with the need to live in houses? No mortgage, no clutter, no housework. No big rooms to heat, so it'd probably be pretty green too. Why on earth hasn't the idea caught on?


John Hayes said...

I'm thinking this idea works best in spots with mild winters!

The Solitary Walker said...

I'm all for minimalism. The cloak sounds good for occasional outdoor overnighters - if it can be made waterproof and dampproof - but I'm still sticking to my litle tent for longer periods of bucolic roughing-it.

As a half-way house between a gizmo-packed cloak and a tent, what about a tarp? Hardly a body suit - in fact quite the reverse - but low impact, light, easy to erect, and you're right there cheek by jowl with nature.

I'm with you all the way on simpler eco-housing. Have been fantasizing recently about living like a troglodyte in an earth house built into the side of a hill. Or in a caravan. We're all becoming too dependent on our over-insulated, gadget-filled apparently stable homes and one fixed space. And I think that physical - and more importantly psychological - dependence can sometimes be deleterious. At least for me.

Dominic Rivron said...

John: It depends, I suppose, on how good the suit is. There is a limit. One wouldn't want to wake up buried under 6 feet of snow. And one could even create space inside for a banjo. :)

SW: I'm a convert to bivibags for solo outdoor living.They're comfier than they look and do away with all the putting up tent poles when you're tired bit. I've seen some one-man tents that have bendy poles that spring into shape when you release them but none of those I've seen quite compress to rucksack size.
There's a great description in WH Murray somewhere of camping in Scotland with virtually nothing but a tarp and a sack of oatmeal.

Rachel Fox said...

I love the idea of you out with any old dog, roaming the wilds becloaked and possibly even howling!
I just wrote a dogs poem that you might like (or that might help you like dogs). I put it on myspace just now... for a change from google!

Denise Burden said...

I can just picture you, Dominic, as this solitary hooded figure, wading through the fields in the moonlight with your double bass strapped to your back following wherever your in-Laws tiny Yorkshire Terrier leads.
To other bloggers, who do not know him, this is SO Dominic!

Lyn said...

If I wore my house, I'd have to have part of it grow some roses. That could be a thorny problem.
I do have a black velvet cloak(or cape) Wrap myself in its deep folds when I go to the opera. In NY no one stares!

Totalfeckineejit said...

Good man Dominic, I'm with you most of the way here,i love the outdoors at nightime,particularly twilight.But as someone who nearly died of pneumonia last year the thoughts of living outside in this cold wet country scares me.There's nothing more cosy than a good coat though and particularly with a good hood to shelter you from the world.Design the right cloak and I would buy it.Nightime walking , particularly moonlit walking has been high on my agenda latelyand I crave fields but am limited to beachesand woods at the moment.I've been meaning to blog about it.The best bit by the way is that everything is black and white-have you noticed?

Dominic Rivron said...

Thanks for these comments.

Rachel: Popped over to have a look at the said dog poem and left my comment. I liked it but it didn't help me enthuse about dogs - although I have to admit Zoe looks cute!

Denise: Thank you - you've reminded me of a card you once sent me which I might get round to scanning in and posting!

Lyn: Hanging baskets! :)

Is that the Metropolitan Opera? I heard some of Gotterdammerung live from there on the radio the other day - there is a regular "live from the Metropolitan" slot on the radio over here.

TFE: I had pneumonia once, too, pretty bad. I sometimes find myself thinking that had I lived 150 years ago that would have been that.

Had noticed the black and white effect. Funnily enough, spoilt with fields I find myself craving woods and beaches.

Lyn said...

Back to your question..yes it is the Met, and we get the live broadcast also..but I wear jeans for that!!

Denise Burden said...

Just you wait, Dominic! I've found a card that shouts of you and I'm sending it to Karen for her Birthday!
Er can you remind me of the exact date - I know it is sometime now.

BarbaraS said...

Where would you put the baby, when it was born..?

Dominic Rivron said...

Lyn: Thanks for the clarification. It's a long time since I went to the Opera but I do still listen on the radio now and then.

Denise: Thank you, we look forward to getting it!

Barbara: I asked why the idea hadn't caught on, and I think you touch on the answer. Earth suits would, I think, render many areas of human reproduction problematic!

I suppose babies could go in little "extension sacks" fixed to their parents' suits - but from what I remember of having babies the suit air conditioning would have to be pretty good.

Poetikat said...

Like John Hayes, I can see the limitations of your idea - although it is a fascinating one. I DO like the idea of the cloak itself. I think you should look for a vintage one on the web. Very Sherlock Holmes, I say. Don't forget your huge wooley muffler!


I didn't know you are a cat person. Very nice.

Dominic said...

Thanks for dropping in. I got thinking about living spaces for bad weather and, slightly off-point (such is the nature of googling!) found this - all about natural disaster proof architecture. Interesting, I thought.

Poetikat said...

What a cool website! I love the movement of words on the page. Of course the housing idea is innovative, but I'm blown away by the site itself (I'm sure that's not their intention.)


John Hayes said...

Hi Dominic:

I'm still thinking about that suit with banjo compartment! By the way, there's an award for you at RFBanjo.

Sandra Leigh said...

I think the problem of sitting needs to be addressed. I know I'm branding myself as a lazy layabout by saying this, but I like to sit down. A lot. And there are times when I want something softer than a rock to sit on. May I suggest a self-inflating chair built into the cloak? When not inflated, it could disappear into the general flowiness of the cloak, but at the (flick of a switch? push of a button?) abra-cadabra, you've got yourself a big, comfy armchair right there where you need it. Just sayin'. Also, you're going to have to have a Kindle pocket somewhere. This idea has possibilities!

Dominic Rivron said...

Poetikat: Pleased you like it. I like imagining architecture.

John: Thanks for the award! Being a double bass (as well as guitar) player I might have trouble with a musical compartment...

Sandra: Thanks for visiting! I like the idea of some sort of chair. I'd not given sitting down much thought. My stepson had an inflatable armchair once but it took an age to pump it up (it was amusingly irritating when it sprang a slow leak!) - so are there alternatives? Inflatable cushions built into the trousers and back, perhaps, with some sort of light seat that could dismantle and fit into side pockets of the trousers? (The whole ensemble, it occurs to me, could even turn into an inflatable dinghy... But I digress...)

Sandra Leigh said...

That's it, Dominic. I was thinking of those inflatable dinghies that fill with air so quickly, you have to jump out of the way lest you get squashed. Something chair-sized could inflate that fast without presenting any danger beyond, perhaps, knocking its wearer off his/her feet, which - after all - was the point, right?

I really just came over to say thank you for visiting my blog and commenting.

Your magic word: sectize. Hmmm. A form of "proselytize"?

SarahJane said...

Enjoyed your post and picture. I have a dog, and a cloak! With a pocketful of dogtreat crumbs, yum.

Lucy Corrander said...

You can't hold a lead and hold your cloak shut and your hood up all at the same time. You'ld have to have one that does up. But while the idea of an ordinary cloak sounds dashing and romantic . . . put a zip up the front and it's - naff.

I suppose you could have spokes round the cloak, with yourself like the handle up the middle of an umbrella. Then, when you wanted to sit down or go to sleep, you could sink down in the middle of it and it would stay standing, like a tent and the smoke from your fire would rise through the hole in the ceiling where your head was sticking through a few moments before.

You could pull the baby behind you in a ground level trolley - maybe of the kind toddlers push bricks round in, only with the handle on a hinge. Then, when you stopped for the night, you could pull it in through a kind of cat-flap in the hem of your cloak.

Would that work?


Dominic Rivron said...

SL: Hm. A very high speed inflator might be the answer.

SJ: Pleased you enjoyed it. Have yet to try dogtreat crumbs myself :)

LC: The umbrella spokes is an amazingly clever idea! I think it's being able to think of things like that that seperates nature's engineers from the rest of us. (And it shouldn't be hard to design it so that it automatically opened when you sat down).