There are moments walking London when I am hit by temporal flickers. Drifting streets only for the still rolling, concussive blast of history to punctuate my now. Beyond a solid present defined by enclosures of concrete and glass, there are glimpses of a cratered city; single houses islanded amongst a flood of rubble.
Wherever you go in London, you find cracks where the pounding echo of 1940 can still be heard, where the firestorm is still raging. The city’s memory of itself as half-flattened, the blackened bones of its cellars exposed to a bewildered sky, attempts to break through. It remembers its lost treasures, the erasure of whole streets. It remembers itself as dark wreckage, as devastation.
The Three Bridge Kingdom has its portals into the city’s blasted past. Spots where bombs gouged out holes in the stately stucco lines and allowed concrete riffraff to grow. Homes obliterated, their space given now to the most turgid, miserable memorial ever erected – William Mitchell’s Two Doves.
When the city turns and rolls in troubling dreams of being laid waste, the Blitz is still happening. Throwing up the ghosts of buildings rubbed out. Stone revenants haunting their brutalist replacements. On nights when the skin of history is drawn taught, the shades of the demolished reflect in the black mirror of the canal.