memoirs, art and fragments by Thomas Milner


St. Edmund's College - AMBULACRUM

St. Edmund’s College – AMBULACRUM

Here is an old picture of The Ambulacrum at my old school (from the Latin ambulare: to walk) where people would amble, saunter or stroll before mealtimes or during breaks between lessons. There was an obscure protocol concerning who could avail themselves of this privilege and when and why, the details of which have long since fled from my mind, I’m glad to say.

Walking (also known as ambulation) is one of the main methods of locomotion among legged animals and is typically slower than running and other gaits. Walking is defined by an inverted pendulum gait in which the body vaults over the stiff limb or limbs with each step. Although walking speeds can vary greatly depending on factors such as height, weight, age, terrain, surface, load, culture, effort, and fitness, the average human walking speed is about 5 kilometres per hour.

Let me just jump in here as someone who has observed walking from both points of view (can and can’t).

I can testify that walking suits people.

Locomotion makes people dynamic, whether the upright graceful carriage of an athlete or the haunchy waddle of the villager, walking makes you look good.


Not so much fun however is sitting round all day in a wheelchair watching other people walk.

To my chagrin I haven’t greatly improved the quality or speed of my walking on my frame. Always at the back of my mind is one of the (unwritten) maxims of this place: to stop is to die. Goaded on by this thought, in spite of the inherent indolence of my nature, I continue to doggedly sway across halls and lurch down corridors, sweating and stubborn … while I am thus ambulating, my mind sometimes stretches across the universe to grasp at some elusive truth … other times I focus on the matter in hand – to continue defying gravity for just one more step.

But we make progress my masters; courage my friends; keep on going for just one more step.

Don’t give up!

I leave you with a spot of oriental wisdom:

What the caterpillar thinks of as the end of the world, the rest of the world calls a butterfly.




Comments on: "Ambulacrum" (3)

  1. How many times have we walked up and down those uneven flagstones….would struggle to do it now without tripping!


  2. That old butterfly has got a lot to answer for! The ambulacrum? reminds me of the colonnades where Socrates was supposed to have walked around chatting with his disciples. Well, you know, if you could find some disciples, that could still work! (actually, it’s ironic when you think of it that some people who could walk perfectly well hate to).


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