Last Night Walk

You can’t help but walk around craning your neck as you look high. It’s the unusual juxtaposition of these monoliths of light framed against the night sky. They draw your vision skyward, dwarfed by our own creations.

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With a view to remembering, I had set off on my final night’s walk, crossing the bridge behind my hotel, at dusk.

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I took the same route as last time, but this day being a Sunday meant the atmosphere was more subdued, the army of office workers gone, leaving behind a vacuum for nature and a wandering Manc to fill.

I had this familiar, definite trail in mind, but, as often happens, it was birds that led me astray.

As darkness fell, I heard gulls somewhere overhead. Studying the night sky, I could make out their aerial skirmishes beneath the towering cranes.

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I began to walk towards the direction the birds had flown in, now aware that I could hear the carcophonous shrieking of many others somewhere up ahead. And so they led me from my safe and ordered plan.

They took me to a point called Limehouse Lock, a part of Canary Wharf I hadn’t been to before. I stood there, against iron railings, peering out to locate the gliding forms.

There were hundreds of gulls-skimming above the dark waters of the Thames. Some low, just above the surface, some higher, all moving as one great flock.

Don’t gulls sleep at night, even in a city that doesn’t sleep?

At night it is always dark water. I could remember looking out over the Saltsjön one evening in Stockholm, regarding the depths there as black water. Expansive and ominous, deep and threatening, I thought of Lindqvist’s book Harbour. In that novel, the writer made an evil entity out of the whole body of water, no doubt influenced by the death of his own father who was lost at sea.

I could imagine it, this great mass, untameable and omnipresent, claiming all who are foolish enough to try to master it.

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I stayed for a while. Away from the bright lights of the city, here was the greater thrill: being led to somewhere different, somewhere new, by these feathered guides. Watching them move uninhibited en masse over the masking shadows of the Thames.

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First Night Walk

Okay, so you thought you’d seen the last of me for a few days.

But, for the first time, I took my iPad away with me as my antique phone is playing up. So I decided to use it for a few photographs and the odd update. Just in case I should disappear off the map.

 

Canary Wharf: feeling small. A poor man’s Stonehenge. How far have we come from the Neolithic?

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In the midst of city life, there were some coots nesting in the water to the side of me, the calling chicks catching the attention of some cooing, slightly tipsy women. Alas, it was too dark for me to capture them. The chicks, I mean. The women continued to dance beneath neon lights.

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Above the monoliths. Looking down; looking up.

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In the distance: the Shard. I resisted its call.

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The DLR crosses the bridge. Driverless trains- would you feel safe?

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How many Jackdaw Andy’s can you cope with? Using my iPad that way it looks like I’m waving a hymn book about, threatening to break into song. And these unforgivable angles show just how much I’m beginning to thin on top. Damn wife; damn kids; damn time!

Did I leave anything out ? Maybe a smile?

 

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London Calling

I am off to London in the morning for three nights, arriving back on Monday evening.

For those of you who are familiar with the whole ‘journey’ theme of my book Heading North, the last time I was in our capital city I wrote three poems for possible inclusion in the book. I was going to publish two that didn’t make the final cut here in this post-but at this late hour I can’t find them!

One was still in early draft form, entitled London Lines, and the other was a completed poem that I didn’t think quite up to scratch (tellingly the title now escapes me).

So, until I do locate them, I will include here the only one of the three that made my collection. It was written in the very same hotel, in Canary Wharf, that I’m staying in this weekend. Maybe inspiration still lingers the corridors, eh? Perhaps my muse is still joyriding the elevators.

We shall see. In the meanwhile, have a great weekend people.

See you next week.

Canary Wharf, Morning

Sunrise over angled skies.
Reflected light on
glass and steel.

Still water shine 
and strengthening hum
of time-fixated 
suited drones,

speed induced and web infused.
See the parade 
of passive martyrs.

One day, maybe, 
just one day,
sit and watch the world go by.


©Andrew James Murray