I stand on top of Parliament Hill and look out at the city. Up here I can see it all. The mass of brick and concrete cut through with tangled roads and alleys, the rich complexity of the old stones piled up one on top of another. Every day millions of people walk among them, carrying their past, their present, their future.
I’ve done my share of walking these streets. Night, day, drunk, sober, there isn’t much of the city that I haven’t seen. I once walked from here to Tower Bridge, late one drunken night. It was a very long way past increasingly old landmarks: Camden Lock, the gothic façade of St Pancras, the long dead length of Grays Inn Road to St Paul’s, the Monument, Cheapside, the Roman wall, to the Tower of London and the distant Thames flowing slowly in the grey dawn.
That’s six miles, as the crow flies. Six miles. I look up into the sky. The contrails of two planes have left a giant X across the heavens like the signature of a great illiterate god. I look back down in the direction of the Thames. Six miles. A long way to fall.