Up at six am. Out the door, looking out on the dome of St. Paul’s rising blue and white from the end of the gangway and out beyond Hannibal House and the jumble of buildings between the Elephant and the river, the two towers of of the Houses of Parliament, still glowing golden yellow in the dusk -
Down the concrete stairs, the lights of the glowing beyond the terraces, to the gangway which sticks out like a snaking concrete limb from the bottom of the estate – down to the muddy path across the green where the old man plays with his dog every morning, throwing sticks so his dog runs back and forth across the green. I said hi to the man one morning but in true London fashion, he just looked at me blankly then looked away . . .
Up to the back end of the elevated railway, through the concrete concourse with the fluorescent lights, up to the platform where the whole of Claydon House spreads out across the purple dawn sky, floodlights glowing in the gangways. The train arrives, ejects half it’s passengers, and even at six-thirty am there are so many they cram the little stairwell for five solid minutes, queuing silently in the cold with typical English resignation.
The train doors close and the train whooshes forward – curving for five minutes through the old brick estates with the red rooftops that make up most of Burough, onto Blackfriar’s Bridge – and as the train breaks into the open, the dawn reflects off the smooth water of the Thames, illuminating one of the loveliest views in London (and possibly the world) – St. Paul’s Cathedral still glowing white and blue in the pale dawn sky, the surface of the Thames glimmering pale yellow and blue with the first light of the sun, the cranes around the edges of the City rising in silhouettes, poised at different angles like ballerinas in a crane ballet caught in mid-flight – and the Thames curving off the West, ending with a silver of Westminster’s jagged spires glowing like lamplight in the dark . . . .