Welcome to www.flanr.net a website dedicated to those who wish to experience the city and understand the world by using their feet, with their minds following a short distance behind. It is for the modern flâneur, who wanders, loiters, muses and tries to comprehend the urban setting.
A Bowl around Bedlam with the Brainless, Brazen Brothers is an audio tour that explores madness and the history of the most famous mental institution in the world – The Bethlem Royal Hospital, better known as Bedlam – from its beginnings as a priory in 1247 through to 1815. For the whole of this period the Hospital had only two homes: the first, now beneath what is Liverpool Street Station, from 1247 to 1676; the second, a stone’s throw away, now under what is Finsbury Circus, from 1676 to 1815.
I won’t reveal the identities of the Brainless, Brazen Brothers yet. They burst on to the London scene in the year 1676 and became celebrities almost overnight. They were christened the Brainless, Brazen Brothers by Alexander Pope in the 1743 edition of his vitriolic, mock-heroic poem, The Dunciad. Part of the fun of the audio tour is that things are revealed gradually and in the appropriate geographical setting. Suffice to say here, the two brothers, Mel and Ravi, are your guides and the narrators of the audio tour.
Downloading the audio files: To download the audio tour and begin your journey, go to the ‘audio’ page of this website and follow the instructions. There are 11 sound files to be downloaded to your MP3 player (iPod etc) or your smart phone. For each, there is a specified starting point. For example, sound file number one specifies ‘under the great departure board at Liverpool Street Station’. So, you find the board in Liverpool Street Station and when you are there, press the button to play the first piece of audio. At the end of the first piece of audio there will be further instructions as to where you go to hear the second piece of audio; at the end of the second piece you will hear where to go for the third piece of audio; and so on.
Map: On the map page of this website, there is a google map showing the route of this audio tour. It is worth printing this out and taking it with you and you may also want to carry your own AtoZ map of London. There is about 40 minutes of audio to listen to and, allowing time to get to each of the eleven starting points, the whole walk should take about 75 minutes.
For those of you who can, it would be good to be able to look at pages of this website whilst you are on the walk, because the site contains several historical maps, lots of pictures of locations (to make them easy to find and identify) and pictures of our two semi-secret narrators (whose identities are revealed on audio track 9). All the visual material can be viewed via a smartphone or iPad.