I found myself wandering around London Bridge one recent Saturday. I used to be a frequent visitor, but a friend’s move away from the area seems to have interrupted the habit; now there’s something new to see each time I return.
The most obvious addition over the last couple of years has been The Shard, a building that divides opinion as sharply as its name so aptly suggests. I can see why it has its detractors in a time of slump, a colossal price tag in an age of pinched pennies, but then the Empire State was born in similar circumstances and we all seem fond enough of that. Time wears the objections down as effectively as anything else.
Grumbles noted, I tend to find it an impressive sight to behold, and like most Londoners found myself gawping regularly as it climbed above the skyline. Now the dust has pretty much settled I can why it continues to needle those that don’t like it; it’s pretty difficult to ignore.
Elsewhere, regeneration continues apace. A new rail development is replacing the rivets and girders that criss-cross Borough Market, transplanting its iron guts with glass and steel. Here and there the ageing infrastructure hangs on, but soon these atmospheric glimpses of the sky above will have disappeared.
Suddenly I find myself resenting the progress too. For me, these rusting sights provide a sense of age and industry that’s somehow far more personal than the more obvious landmarks that dot the capital.
We set off towards Tower Bridge, the beginnings of a sunset behind us. A chance to look back at St. Pauls basking in a timeless light. Alright then, those landmarks are pretty good too.
And modernity has its moments. Walking by the river towards Tower Bridge, we spotted this sculpture. I hadn’t seen it before and ended up admiring it for several minutes; unfortunately I didn’t jot down the artist so I’ll have to have another look soon.
Onwards! We had a bar to get to – a friend of Kirstie’s was celebrating her birthday – and all these sights were making us late. The sunset dissolved into purples and pinks, becoming more spectacular by the minute. Suddenly Tower Bridge was also a place to stop and stare, despite the fact I ride over it every day on my way to work.