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Travelogue G14

January 4, 2016

Unsettled by my latest finds, I thought it best to leave my reflection on parishes and churchyards for a time to focus on another problem which I had come upon. Indeed, in wandering from place to another, I had paralleled and doubled back on more than once a thoroughfare called “London Wall” and to which I now returned. Turning first east then west, I could make neither heads nor tails of the “Wall” designation and decided, in the end, that it must owe to some historical entity of which I was at that time unaware. All the same, I decided to follow the broad street of multiple lanes until such a time as I might find something in the way of confirmation.

Rather than old clues, my path led me through numerous new constructions, in more or less complete states. Across the way stood an office building in the blue, green and yellow piping of which I saw the echo of the Centre Pompidou Paris. Quite taken with this sibling structure, I made an effort in the weeks following to relocate that structure, but it had seemed to disappear from city maps in the interval, whether from someone’s concerted effort or my lack thereof.

Not far from those glass-plated, colored innards, I sighted a newer building still. So new, in fact, that this one seemed an infant, in the beginning stages of construction, as evidenced by the surrounding partition and ground-level cranes. More telling proved the stubs of three stairwells, rising to different heights. Though the tallest reached its thirteenth level of an unknown number, the shortest came up a mere four. My efforts at understanding were greatly aided by the concrete’s smooth appearance and the blue numbers sprayed thereon in ascending order.

All the same, I was amused by the thought that, to an unwary observer, these concrete shafts might appear as towers unto themselves and, thus, the object of the building and of the laborers shuffling about the worksite. In such a way, they could happily go about their lives of tearing down the overcrowded office spaces around and replacing them with the widely spaced towers of the kind before me. In each spire, perhaps only a single department would come to lodge, and one company alone would thus need to occupy a collection of spires in order to house all the rank and file.

It gave me a certain pleasure to imagine what alternative means of communication might have sprung up between the towers, be it in the form of banners and pennants hung from the rare opening, or lines strung between and communicating small metal cylinders from one to another. Yet I knew that, where I saw folly, others would surely see the concrete stairwell shafts for what they were: simply an element to raise first and then to build around and at last to hide within the structure’s bowels, out of sight, out of mind.

Only after turning away from my alternative worlds did I find myself before the Wall.

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