as if you’re flying

November 6, 2019

Outside my kitchen window the long afternoon empties of light. I look at London stretched out far below, my dripping hands held poised above the sink. The doorbell rings, one long high peal; The broken intercom vibrates. The view from up here, it’s incredible, as if you’re flying. Deptford and Greenwich, New Cross and Erith, then the river, and beyond that there’s the Gherkin, over there the Shard. From my top floor flat here on Telegraph Hill, you can see forever and as usual it calms me, soothes me: how big it is, how small I am, how far from where I used to be.

The doorbell rings more urgently – whoever it is, is putting their finger on the buzzer and holding it there. The night hovers.

Camilla Way
Watching Edie

mirages of repose

November 6, 2019

Out of the mists of morning charred by the smoke from ruins each day rose to a height of unmisty glitter; between the last of sunset and first note of the siren the darkening glassy tenseness of evening was drawn fine. . . . The diversion of traffic out of blocked main thoroughfares into byways, the unstopping phantasmagoric streaming of lorries, buses, vans, drays, taxis past modest windows and quiet doorways set up an overpowering sense of London’s organic power–somewhere here was a source from which heavy motion boiled, surged and, not to be damned up, forced itself new channels.

The very soil of the city at this time seemed to generate more strength: in parks the outsize dahlias, velvet and wine, and the trees on which each vein in each yellow leaf stretched out perfect against the sun blazoned out the idea of the finest hour. Parks suddenly closed because of time – bombs – drifts of leaves in the empty deck chairs, birds afloat on the dazzlingly silent lakes – presented, between the railings which girt them, mirages of repose. All this was beheld each morning more light-headedly: sleeplessness disembodied the lookers-on.

In reality there were no holidays; few were free however light-headedly to wander. The night behind and the night to come met across every noon in an arch of strain. To work or think was to ache. In offices, factories, ministries, shops, kitchens the hot yellow sands of each afternoon ran out slowly; fatigue was the one reality. You dared not envisage sleep.

Elizabeth Bowen
The Heat of the Day