This year for World Oceans Day, I’m taking part in the Million Mile Beach Clean, walking 10 miles (over the next few months) of river, canal and beach, picking up litter. I’ve also written a new piece of music, Whirl, for percussionist Delia Stevens which we’ll put online to celebrate World Oceans Day on June 8th.

The Million Mile Beach Clean is a year long initiative by Surfers Against Sewage designed to clear up plastic from our waterways and the sea and draw attention to the scale of the problem.

Curious finds in the bag of rubbish from alongside the Huddersfield Narrow Canal in Tameside salvaged today include a kitchen food processor bowl half filled with a strange food substance, possibly fish meal, and a couple of zipped freezer bags containing dog waste. Bizarre. There was also large quantities of shredded industrial sheet plastic and many empty sweet packets. I expect there will be more unusual finds in the next few months and we’ll see how the kinds of trash varies across the different kinds of watercourses I’ll be covering.


Strangely enough, Whirl, the piece I have composed for Delia, was inspired by waste plastic, or rather by, how, in the river Tame which runs alongside the canal at several points, floating plastic bottles are gathered at the side of the bank in small whirl pools. So, amidst the sometimes fast moving river there are quiet groups of whirls, steadily rotating, holding the bottles in a kind of stasis. It’s those two opposites which I’ve tried to bring out in the piece – whirling melodies in the marimba, and suspended, static chords in the vibraphone. I’ll be blogging more about the piece later this week.

The river Tame is at the centre of a scientific study around micro plastic pollution, conducted by Professor Jamie Woodward of the University of Manchester, I’ll be blogging about that tomorrow. There’s more about the Million Mile Clean Up on this Million Mile Clean Up link and the World Oceans Day website is on this World Oceans Day link

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