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Canary Wharf seen from Blackwall.

Picture by chodhound: Canary Wharf at Dusk from Blackwall DLR Station

They’re waiting at Blackwall Station, and the nearby buildings of Canary Wharf are the strangest things.

“Do you think they count as skyscrapers?” Tandie asks, counting fifty storeys on the big one. That must be more than enough to qualify; and yet it’s so thick and right-angled that it looks short.

Most of the buildings went up when she was two or three, she knows, and they could almost have been modelled on her own contemporaneous plastic cities: squares and rectangles sat on top of each other, higher and higher, rooves coming all of a sudden when the blocks run out. Smooth surfaces, uninterrupted walls. In the dusk, with city lights and the setting sun reflecting from windows, even the colours are duplo-bright.

She can see, if she looks away, buildings that aren’t so strange. A tapering church spire; fashionably curved offices; an old warehouse. But back in the distance the square buildings sit, every one facing the same direction, lit and unlit windows making up a single grid.

If it was really the city of her industrious toddlerhood, the trains would be blue with bright red wheels for the carriages; the only trees would be palms, with four green leaves apiece. There would be My Little Ponies roaming the streets, peering in through fifth-floor windows with painted eyes.

“I never had duplo,” Marisha says. “Or My Little Ponies.” She used to play in her parents’ second-hand shop; if a city had grown in parallel to her toys, it would be full of the steel girders of old meccano sets, houses shaped like 50s biscuit tins, triangular rooves like old books propped open. Piles of shoes, broken bicycle parts, inhabitants dressed in a jumble of paisley and tartan and lace and purple spots. Bridges like toast racks. Churches modelled on badminton trophies from 1932.

“Ah,” Tandie says, and nods. “Shoreditch.”

Posted in Docklands Light Railway. Tagged with , , .

2 Responses

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  1. Canary wharf = magic urban place, in my opinion…

  2. Ha ha! The only reliable thing about tospanrrt in London is that it is always late! My service drives me mad and I always travel in a little bit earlier just in case. Then again, if I came from a country as beautiful as Uganda, I might want to go home too! When I have tospanrrt woes I certainly don’t want to go home to Johannesburg becaus it was 50x worse there!!!

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