28 January 2016

The Embers Never Fade in Your City by the Lake

Melancholy Smurf doing his best Easy Rider impersonation.
Seapoint, Dublin, 2nd September, 2015
I am quite happy in London, certainly I have not experienced anything approaching homesickness, but I do find it hard sometimes being always surrounded by city. 

I have no desire to decamp to the countryside, I am a true son of the urban environment, but one of the great features of Dublin is that no matter where you are in the city, in less than thirty minutes you can be on the shores of Dublin Bay and peer out over the grey choppy waters and see out to infinity.

You may have to strain your head a bit to see past Howth, Dalkey or Bray, but there, off to your right or possibly left is the open sea, the beautifully nuclear sea. It is nice to be able to take a moment and stand with buildings solely at your back, an absence of artifice and humanity as far as the eye can see (just a bit to the left, or possible off on your right).

Once or twice a week in London, I take an night-time walk down to the river, across the Thames at the Millennium Bridge or Blackfriars, or further up at Waterloo Bridge. I walk along Bankside, or further along to Southbank. By day I might travel along the north side at Victoria Embankment. At the river the air is fresher, the people less hurried. The water flows by with a sense of brisk efficiency, though on some days the tide is so low you can walk along the riverbed picking your way through generational layers of discarded Victorian red bricks, the oldest worn smooth and round by time and tide. Crimson-brown boules for the fish to toss.

It is a shore, and water, but not the same as standing at Seapoint, or Howth, the end of the South Wall or on Bull Island itself, and gazing out into the grey nothingness ahead. The Thames is like a mirror, one bank reflected back in the other, as you stand you can always see your doppelganger on the other side, staring back.

I wonder if they too miss the boundary line. The point that marks the end of the city, and the beginning of elsewhere.

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