Wednesday, 19 October 2011

An ecstasy of concrete

A few blogposts ago I quoted from a letter written by Dennis Potter while the Hammersmith flyover was appearing outside his window. I’ve since discovered a contemporaneous piece by him in the Daily Herald, ‘Flyover in my eyes’, from 18 November 1961, in which he is rather more positive about this new piece of architecture. ‘Our second baby was born one warm night in July …’ he writes, ‘while a grotesque new machine was dropping concrete girders into position with all the gentility of a front-row Rugby forward bearing down on a tiny full-back.’ The Potters lived ‘on the top floor of a block of flats on a bloodshot-eye level to the thing.’ The Hammersmith flyover was ‘a beautiful thing, a cross between a Roman aqueduct and a Hollywood epic, soaring over earth-bound streets in an ecstasy of concrete, cable and sheer bravado.’

Mundane quote for the day: ‘Science owes more to the steam engine than the steam engine owes to science; without the dyer’s art there would be no chemistry; metallurgy is mining theorized.’ – Clifford Geertz

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