Samuel Johnson famously said that “When a man is tired of London he is tired of life” and he wasn’t wrong. Though the other way round is not necessarily the same thing at all.
This week on Window Wednesday it is the window that made me think about how wonderful windows are, and really ignited my love of windows in general. How they perfectly frame a shot. How they let us see beyond what is just in front of us. And that is never more true than from the living room window of the flat my parents called home from 14 years. On the 11th floor at Imperial Wharf it gave us the most stunning view of London. One that constantly changed over the years they lived there. I never lived there but was lucky enough to stay overnight on numerous occasions and it was the backdrop to more family dinners and events than I can remember. All of them filled with laughter and a joy at the space we were in, and that we could see beyond the balcony.
It is also tinged with sadness as the place I sat transfixed to the TV on Boxing Day when news of the tsunami broke and realised our friends were caught up in it. At that stage feared missing but we were hopeful they would have made it to higher ground. As the hours passed I had to be physically removed from the TV and it turned off when their names of survivors hadn’t appeared.
Mostly though it is where I would sit and stare at London going about its thing, nearly always with a cup of tea regardless of the time of day. It was the perfect place to watch every form of traffic: trains heading to and from Clapham; helicopters in and out of Battersea; boats sailing into and out of Chelsea Harbour; emergency vehicles, lights flashing, dashing down the Embankment; buses and taxis heading under the railway bridge. Or to watch people rushing up the steps of the station as the train had come in, placing bets on whether they would make it or not.
It’s where we would park the car when we were going out in London, or get ready for big nights out like the Mariposa Ball in May this year, where I made sure I got a pic of us in our posh clothes on the balcony because we just don’t have any others:
Over the years the view hasn’t changed hugely, though when my parents first moved to Imperial Wharf it didn’t have a station, the train line just passed through, and the skyline has changed with the addition of iconic buildings such as the Shard and Walkie Talkie. And the recent addition of a tower just in front, and more development of Imperial Wharf to the left, but on the whole it has mostly stayed the same. You can see in the picture above the latest tower going up, and below a pic from 2015 with no tower.
No matter the weather it was still an amazing place to watch the world. In fact, there is an argument for saying that when it was cloudy and foggy it was just as great, it made me think what Victorian London must have been like when that smog was at ground level.
Have you seen the little church right on the water’s edge? I love that little church. I am so pleased it has remained in tact and not demolished and redeveloped as so much of the area under the flats have been. In fact the whole of Imperial Wharf has grown in that time, so much so that I have joked in the past that my parents place is “now just a flat above Tesco”, albeit a pretty impressive one!
For every time I was tired, and let’s face it folks, I have been tired alot in the past two years, I was never too tired to sit and look at this view. If we had been out for the evening and got back late at night, I would always make a cup of tea and wander along the corridor to sit and watch the lights as I drank my tea.
It was where I cleared my head. Where I took a moment to sit and pause and breathe and where last month I stood alone for ten minutes and said goodbye to the view for the very last time.
On to pastures new but there will always be a soft spot in my heart for this particular window.