On weathervanes and chimney-stacks

By December 13, 2007Uncategorized

This week I have been mainly looking up. My favourite thing is to sit above the driver’s seat on the top of the Number 19 bus and admire the eyebrows of London. This morning I got interested in weathervanes. Arriving by bus at the British Library I passed flocks of them, on top of King’s Cross and St Pancras, atop a variety of steeples, and bedecking many a passing parapet. How fabulous. In 2007, why on earth do we need to know so constantly which way the wind is blowing?

This got me thinking about artefacts. Living in Islington, it is noticeably in vogue to have an old chimney outside your front door, now boasting a geranium rather than a rook’s nest or yellow smoke. In the future will we see old air conditioning units pressed into service as garden furniture? And what might be gracing our towers in future if not a weathervane – a carbonometer? I hope not. As Kate Fox has pointed out in her wonderful book Watching the English, socially we would be lost without the weather as a ready topic of conversation. How very fitting then that London should be flying so many flags to this national obsession.

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