An afternoon visiting the Olympic site
I didn't really know much about Iain Sinclair when it was suggested that I spend an afternoon with him walking around the large construction site that is London 2012, out towards the Lea Valley in East London.
As it happens, I have personally been something of an enthusiast for the London Olympic games, mainly on the grounds a) that a bit of wasteland will be made nice and b) that it tends to make everybody happy that their country should be the centre of world attention for a couple of weeks in their life.
Iain Sinclair, I quickly learned, was rather less enthusiastic about the project than me.
And he knows more about it. He is local to the area, a prodigious walker who knows the paths around the site, and combines a wonderfully subversive nature (he once breeched the security round the construction by taking a dinghy on the waterway through it) with a curiosity about the games and the construction.
Above all though, he is cross about the games spoiling the area he loves.
We had a wonderful stroll and recorded at least 40 minutes of conversation. (Spare a thought for Jasper, the producer, who had to edit it down to a broadcast-able length).
But the debate between us essentially amounted to one between what might be called naïve modernity (me) and world-weary scepticism (Sinclair).
Underlying it, was the fact that his very developed aesthetic sense could find far more beauty than I, in the old poisoned wasteland that was the site before the bulldozers moved in.
And his obvious doubts about the authorities in general exhibited itself in far more suspicion of the intent and competence of those running the 2012 show than I held.
It was a sunny day, we had a lovely walk. And at the end of it, I realised that Sinclair had won the argument.
But it was one of those interesting arguments where - despite the other person winning - you remain somewhat unconvinced of their case. He argued it just too well.. I rather came to think he could win any argument he made.
You can judge for yourself by listening, and by looking at the wonderful picture show of the walk we took.
But for me, the moral is never take on a true master of words unless you want to be defeated.