It is sometime after 4pm. Twilight is boosted by the strip lighting that spills carelessly from the glass hives of the basin. Its falling glow stretches further the time between the end of a tired grey afternoon and the sodium orange watch of the city night. This is an uncertain, blurred hour in which people scurry home.
Against the tide of people, I walk the canal. Everything seems to be washing east. Workers heading home along the towpath and the caved in skulls of Jack-o’-lanterns, bobbing passed the boats like the remains of sacrifices made to some dark god of the Regent’s Canal.
At All Hallows, the sky was an uncompromised blue. I kicked firework bursts of red and gold leaves down the stucco streets of Little Venice. Now the sky is never better than a sullen grey and every leaf holds fast under the glue of rain that is always just a few hours old.
The wind creates interference patterns on the water. It roughly pushes past flesh and cloth to poke my bones. This is the dead frontier of autumn. It can go no further. Failing and falling, it stutters out as winter invades its jagged edges.
Tonight the frost will be brutal. The cold will harvest thin plates of water glass from the liquid of a black canal. When daylight comes, the first boats pushing along the cut will wake me with the shattering of those floating windows. The year is on its knees and waiting for the sword.