Echoes, Roars and Dinosaurs
I am perched in a tree in the middle of Oxford late at night, smoke curling gently from my lips before being stolen away by the same mischievous wind that is running through my hair and playing amongst the leaves. There's a thousand and one thoughts rushing through my head at a million and one miles and hour as I stare out at the City. Suddenly, they all stop at once and are replaced by a curious and rather profound feeling.
It's one I've experienced before, flying back to England under a perfect sunset of orange and blue and rolling green countryside. It's a feeling of connection. It was like I could see all of England below me, and the land was alive and breathing softly like a sleeping beast that I could easily have reached down and stroked. The feeling was so strong that I thought that British Airways had spiked my dinner with psychedelics until I remembered that their service isn't that good.
This time it's the City that I'm connected to. It's a sensation that I often get when I walk through familiar places late at night, when there's no-one else about. The City is empty, and for now, at least, it belongs to me. The spotlight from Magdalen College is screaming up into the night, slicing the sky in half. One of the labs is lit with its own eerie green light, like some sort of twentieth century Minas Morgul. In the distance, the constant sound of the cars; steel workers toiling up and down the motorways.
I'm jostled from my thoughts by a solitary cyclist as he trundles past, clearly surprised to see a dark figure looming out of the tree above him. For a moment, I am sharing the City with him, another creature of the night, but then he passes and I have it all to myself again.
"The Kooks are out in the streets, Oh we're gonna steal your skies."
I lean casually back into the tree trunk and stare out into the night at the City unfolding before me, full of memory and promise, past and future. I can't see most of it, but I can feel it there, looking back at me. During the day it's too busy, there are too many voices, but at night it's quiet and I can talk to the City, and it will listen to me. A gentle smile curls from my lips and the City smiles back.
Quietly, I slide down from the tree and wander home. After all, it's cold out tonight in my City, and I can hear my pillow calling.