Today was another beautiful spring day and, although it was a little
cooler than yesterday, I decided to go for a pleasant walk around the
centre of the city.
The walk from where I live, down by the Tate Modern,
to Parliament took me along the Embankment, which runs on the north
side of the Thames. Here you are reminded of London's age in many ways,
there's Temple tube station which must be around 100 years old, ancient
buildings mixed with modern station structures. And, of course, the
memorials. All of these elements carry with them, in some form, reminds
of this city's toil.
for example, is an ancient Egyptian obelisk flanked by a pair of Sphinx
statues, it stands on the river near Waterloo bridge,
a lovely reminded of our past imperialism, and also of past wounds. The
needle and the pedestals bear the scars of a German bomb that detonated
in the street
90 years ago. Elsewhere there are pot marks, scared marble and
memorials dotted everywhere. The RAF memorial, The Battle of Britain
memorial, the Merchant Navy memorial.
These memorials are not
just confined to the embankment either, they are everywhere around London,
Field Marshall this, Lord that. Some great men, others...no so. But
still constant reminders of what, as a city and a country, we have
endured. Much of our own making, perhaps. Parliament has been the site
of IRA bombings, as has the city. Bush house, which stands across from
my school was badly damaged by a Luftwaffe bomb that detonated in front
Even the museums and the tube stations bear the marks of
war. The memorials to the members of those institutions who gave their
lives in defence of their country. Or had them taken away, while they
I suppose that in 2000 years of history and 1000 years of
our nation, London would be expected to carry some wounds. They serve
well as constant reminds as to what we are, what was given so we could
be. So we could live here, today and ignore those statues. Because
that's what most do. The tourists, they seem them. The Londoners, the
Brits, they mostly don't. 'Look that's shiny, it's funny looking', they
say, but they rarely take the time to think and feel what it means, what
that memorial was built for.
At the top of the slope that leads
from the Millennium Bridge
to St Pauls there stands a bronze pedestal, a memorial to the
firefighters of blitzed London. Men who protected the city in ways
Fighter Command could not. They helped to hold London, to hold the line.
They beat back the flames, fighting their own battle on the streets of
the city. Today their memorial is passed every moment by tens of
businessmen, tourists and locals alike, and they all look up. They look
past it, towards St Pauls, they don't see the bronze pedestal.
I walk there, I see the names.
I wish more people did.