Kew to Westminster - the five o'clock boat
ST ALBANS, March 27 – Click. Kew Bridge, one spring afternoon, 2014. I’d been taking photographs in The Royal Botanic Gardens in search of inspiration for a book cover. I knew I’d not found what I was looking for. I’m no photographer. And my camera was a basic silver compact.
Still, the return journey down river became a spangled trance of mind. Time to think things through. My story was going nowhere. So what? I was on a river, gliding along on a small boat with time to think. Perhaps stories are bridges in the mind.
You surrender to the moment, the mood of the place, the gentle motion of the boat and your own life as you oxbow along. It’s easy to forget that just beyond those trees is a city of nine million souls. Busy, busy. But not here, not on this boat, not this afternoon – cruising along on this soul of soft-flowing water.
It’s some ten miles from the filigree wrought-iron glasshouses of Kew Gardens, to the Palace of Westminster with its green and red benches for commons and Lords. A theme continued in the bridges, Westminster Bridge being green, Lambeth Bridge being red.
But for now we are close to Chelsea Harbour. There’s something exquisitely pleasing in the arch of the Victorian railway bridge below, a simple artistry, an elegant story. Click.
Albert Bridge looks almost coy when seen through the arch of Battersea Bridge with its golden livery – a sight which reflects perfectly the power of the magnates securely ensconced in their mansions to the north. A story through a story.
Albert Bridge in its turn frames Chelsea Bridge. But first there follows an aficionado’s view of some steam-punk riveting. And then – click – the railway bridge that thinks it’s a fairytale swan. Yes, there’s a beauty in bridges. From mind to next. From heart to heart. From soul to soul.
Click. Bridges thick and fast. Next up is Vauxhall Bridge, with MI6 to the south and Tate Britain to the north. Each a store stories, living and breathing, here and now.
And always there is the river. The greatest power in all this. Our inspiration. Our subconscious from which all flows, from which we raise up our little dreams into piers of words, spans and carriages of meaning. We look down into the waters and dream our dreams. And then look up as we glide beneath, a story raised up, a bridge of words, from mind to mind, from heart to heart, from soul to soul. To see how it is, to feel its presence.
Borne along on a river of dreams, we think of our story and how it will be, whether it will ever prove its worth in the mind and the heart and soul of a reader. Or whether it will be a bridge from nowhere to…
And so to the tale of the swivel-eyed loon fish who swam from the depths and into the realm of shape-shifting winners, where the best-selling story is money.