Rotherhithe Tunnel Drift

Report by an absent member - [20:30 TUESDAY 21ST JUNE 2005]

Bermondsey boot boys in Southwark park. The glass staircase of a 21 story tower block, blue and white zig zag and an exclusion zone. NF stronghold. ‘Peel of Nazi stickers and get your bleedin’ ead kicked in, come on then you cunt, you want some? Immigration and disease, never ‘ad no muggings here before’. Southwark Park remember?- Corralled by old bill, shepherded with missiles raining down from the 60’s maisonettes. Ambush and control – whose territory is this? Launched from gleaming Jubilee line extension, still we’re outside – What the fuck is going on round here.

A brick wall and a drop, that’s the entrance to the Rotherhithe tunnel. I need a drink, I yearn for spatial disorientation, requisite state for the drift. The pub that sits astride the Rotherhithe tunnel is festooned with St. George flags and Union Jacks, hate seeps out of the blood stained carpets. I feel at home but my companions seem uncertain “RELAXX UH !” I comment in a Mark-E-Smith Tourette's yelp. The fact that we look like media students on an away day, peering at the other, doesn’t do much to endear us to the locals. Staring contests with the Hackett draped thumb heads and enforced decampments leave us in doubt of the violent intent. ‘Oi, aint you serving us no more Neville you cunt’. The landlord uneasily pushes our drinks towards us and turns.

Outside the bone heads gather and there’s the sneering immanence of a good bout of Ultra V. As I twitch in pre brawl excitement I’m dragged into the maw of the tunnel. This is the beginning. The cloying damp and carbon monoxide fused with adrenaline head rush makes a dizzying start to the walk. The white tiles gleam like a butchers shop then sink into the mire and sludge of the abattoir floor, red tail lights echo round the pipe like laser beams, shimmering with UV dabs. Keep walking to the air vents, staircase puncturing the pristine tube and leading who knows where. Vents and shafts seem possibilities until the appearance of day glow clad officials barring access. Who told them we where coming? They’d sealed off the stairs but told us the vent led back to the pub. A passage way not to be traversed today. On through the tunnel, lungs seizing, reach for Salbutamol, always forget the fucking medication. A thorax grabbing panic, choking fumes, ‘Low Ventilation – No Loitering’, MOVE.
NHS Direct
Panic attacks.
Symptoms include several of the following:
• dizziness or feeling faint,
• palpitations, increased heart rate,
• sweating, trembling or shaking,
• difficulty breathing,
• feeling of choking or nausea,
• chest pain,
• numbness or tingling sensations,
• chills or hot flushes,
• feelings of unreality and detachment,
• fear of losing control,
• fear of dying, and
• a sense of great danger and an urge to escape.
The symptoms of a panic attack can last anywhere from several seconds to about ten minutes. Occasionally the symptoms come in 'waves' for up to 2 hours.

Hope as the tunnel lifts again. Car horns blare incredulous at our obvious crassness, traversing a submerged exhaust pipe on the hottest day of the year.
Ducts, and vents but no path but straight ahead, incline, elevate mildly and out again on the North side, - Limehouse. To emerge, unscathed, breathing again creates delirium, elation and into the nearest boozer.

The Rotherhithe Tunnel Drift was organised by John Wild
Report by Laura Oldfield-Ford