Sunday, October 21, 2007

A Special Place


As I have only had two days off work in the last six weeks my social life has, inevitably, dwindled to practically nothing. My routine is terribly simple:

Q. Am I awake?

If the answer is "Yes" there is a followup:

Q. Are you at work?

If the answer is "No" then I go to work.

This has of course left me somewhat short of things to talk about. The over-riding set of emotions I'm carrying around like over-stuffed panniers concern how things are going at work (you can guess roughly how well by the number of days I've had not here. Hint: More days off equals happier work environment.) Unfortunately I can't really discuss ( a polite way of saying "rant") here about all that because of the general secrecy and other blither that surrounds what we do.

Instead I thought I'd briefly rattle on about one of the things I love about living in London so much. I've lived here for nearly ten years but it's only been in the last few months that I've actually moved right into the very heart of the city. before that I lived about 4-5 miles from the centre which is close but not quite right in the thick of the action. Now however I live in an area that it is possible to identify on the oldest existing map of the city dating from the mid 1500s and that is a rather comforting sensation. To know that the area I live in has been constantly occupied for half a millennium is strange and due the nature of Londoners and London being what they are the actual layout has changed precious little in that time. Looking at the map from 1593 that's atop this post I can see quite clearly the road off which I live and moreover can trace the route I'd take if I were to walk down to London Bridge (then the only way across the Thames) and I find it really no different than it is today. Thanks to the Great Fire of 1666 scarcely anything is left standing predates that aside from the road layout but the is still plenty of ancient material around. For example, my route into work takes me across the top of Lincoln's Inn Fields where the charter of the Bank of England was signed in 1694 in what is now Newcastle House. That building still exists today. The knowledge that wherever I walk I am steeped in centuries of tradition, where people have lived and worked, walking the same routes I do and seeing many of the same sites is a wonderful counterpoint to all the amazing modern developments. The foundations run deep here. As the city grows ever upward toward the sky we can look around and down into the earth and see back to the past. London is a city out of time and I feel so much at home here, temporally as well as spatially.

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2 Comments:

Blogger Mandi said...

How lucky you are to live in such a city!

London is right up at the top of my list of places to visit. Hopefully someday soon...

11:47 pm  
Blogger Mr Atrocity said...

It's an amzing city. When you do come to visit try to walk around rather than taking the tube. The centre isn't that huge and you miss so much when you travel underground. Also if you haven't read "London: The Biography" by Peter Ackroyd, that may whet your appetite further.

8:34 am  

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