Walking home, late at night, from Zone 2 to Zone 1, over bridges and past alleys. Alone, except for early morning commuters and loud street-cleaning vehicles. Passing giant radio towers and skyscrapers, like Centre Point, once the meeting place for spies and agents, still elegant, long past its heyday. Mysterious, seen from every point in Zone 1, its purpose all but forgotten, just another spot on the skyline.
The sky goes from black to blue. Orange street lights give way to bright, white ones. Garbage men collect giant plastic bags from overflowing dumpsters. The whole city is silent, inhaling and exhaling deeply. A fine, London mist is falling, as Alli crosses the circular streets and passes the local coffee shops, not yet open. Coming home from the clubs, half past 6 am.
No ghosts on the streets – just steam rising through manhole covers, the sky an unfeeling gray, a steel sheet over the Millennium Bridge, the Thames moving onward, wordlessly below – moving inescapably to the sea, cutting across a city, from east to west, an ancient navel for Londoners, going back beyond Britannia and the Roman occupation, past Aquae Sulis, in Bath – onward, back to Stonehenge.