Founder’s Arms, the pub on the Thames with the magnificent view of St. Paul’s, the cranes along the skyline of the City. Fog so heavy this morning that I could barely make out that great hulk of an estate behind Heygate Road. Felt as if the entire estate had shot up into pillowy sky.
Walked up through the Elephant into Burough and now the South Bank. Air very wet and cold, reaching beneath the clothes to coat the skin. Fog draped over church spires, bland brick estates – the now lovely streets north of Harper Road that I found so decrepit when I went there with Marie. A little park behind the mosque and the muddy trail, the fog dripping from the green and the smell of green undergrowth so that for a moment I was reminded of Vancouver. Then Burough, which isn’t much more than a collection of old brick estates and a few streets of brick foundries which seem straight out of the 19th century. All gentrified now. Burough Market open Sundays for the holidays – £2.20 for an almond croissant, packed as usual – so packed I skirted the whole thing and reached up the narrow lanes leading past the Prison Museum (‘the Clink’) and up to the South Bank.
U2’s ‘Unforgettable Fire’ seguing into Siouxsie Sioux’s ‘Tinderbox’ on the ipod, providing a soundtrack to whatever I was seeing so I felt like I was in a film. A film of part of my youth. Looking up at the dark brick of the Tate Modern, looming into the fog like some slightly sinister art deco monument to fascism. So many relics from the industrial age seem both magnificent and sinister. The fog comes in waves – when it thins you can just see the top of St. Paul’s, the gold statues shining like lanterns in the grey, then the construction cranes angling up along the North Bank. The hint of clear blue sky behind the low-lying cloud before the fog moves in again, taking everything over.
Later, after I left the pub (I was having coffee, not beer – in a good pub you should be able to enjoy going in and having either, at any time of the day), the fog continued to be dramatic. The spires of the London Eye, defined like the cables of the Brooklyn Bridge. The statue men looking dignified and mysterious for once. Then the towers of the House of Commons, rising out of the low-lying fog like something out of Turner or Monet, patches of blue catching the spires, the white clock face beaming through the fog. I walked to Vauxhall Bridge just to admire it – the dazzling flashes of blue behind the gold, and the fog whisps in front of the long gold curtain in front. . . .