Spires and domes jostle for position.
Crooked charcoal grey tiles make wonky lines to frame the view. In the foreground a gang of gulls squawk and flap for position at the edge of some rusty metal guttering.
"Up where the smoke is all billered and curled," chimed Dick Van Dyke in Mary Poppins about a chimney sweep's life. "Tween pavement and stars is the chimney sweep world... There's things 'alf in shadow and 'alfway in light. On the rooftops of London coo, what a sight."
Rooftops – standing on them, looking out over them and surveying their elitist beauty – are under-rated pieces of urban artistry. Those carvings in stonework 20 metres off the ground can't possibly be seen by anyone on the pavement, yet they're there in all their glory for the pigeons to admire. Lucky pigeons.
There's a beauty in being up so high – provided, of course, you don't suffer from vertigo. There are interesting details to admire, secret markings that you would hardly know were there from the ground. Glasgow, for instance, has an inspiring rooftop landscape. All you have to do, as my grandad used to say, is look up.
It's better, though, when you're actually up there, among the chimneys and TV aerials. Up there the architecture around the city reveals its true ostentatious heart. Golden globes depicting the countries of the world sit atop mounds of pristine tiles, while gargoyles and beautiful ladies carved from fine stone cast their admiring (or is that condescending?) glances on the bustling streets below. In the distance 20th century tower blocks stand like soldiers to attention around the city, guarding its precious contents.
Up here, among the rooftops, it's peaceful too. The city's thunder is reduced to a mere hum through simple elevation. Up here there is mostly silence: the stonework is still. I think Van Dyke summed it up best when he said: "coo, what a sight."
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