he is four faced each one made up
of 312 sections of opal glass
one hand is 9.2 feet long
the other 14
his bell 13.7 tonnes
the hammer inside 441 pounds
at an angle of 0.04 degrees
enough for a passer by
he is really a she
their real name is elizabeth tower
Alban Low's monument balances on Angel Hill.
I look at it. Proud. It’s a proud thing. It pretends to us nothing changes. In real life (I was there last week, gawping up like a tourist) it’s a little prouder (and more stern) than when I first saw it, when I first saw it on the bottles of HP Sauce my mum would put on the table so we could turn the burgers and burned baked beans she made us into something more exotic, more promising, more elsewhere. And yet it’s the same.
We hide behind it, you and I, within it, underneath it. It’s us, our misted myth of us. It brings to mind all we both love and hate, holds them there, strong across the river. And it reminds us we’re all Guy Fawkes.
I think it might survive, outlive those who want it gone: those on two sides, more. Of course it isn’t democracy, it never was. But it’s hope. Those who shout their pain out and push their pain into others don’t want either, either democracy or hope.
I look at it again and I realise how it really is: flaccid. The tower, that is. Not me. Though sometimes I feel unmanned by all the hate and by the shouting and all the pushing and by all the hope.
Alban Low is involved in many creative projects including album artwork, publishing chapbooks, making films, maps, conceptual exhibitions, live performance and good old drawing. He is artist-in-residence at the School of Nursing, Faculty of Health, Social Care and Education at Kingston University and St George's University of London. Low spends his evenings in the jazz clubs of London where he captures the exhilaration of live performances in his sketchbook. This year he is working on a walking project about London Musicians from the 1920s-1940s. In 2018 he spent a week at grove with Kevin Acott where they published two chapbooks. Twitter @albanart Instagram @albanartist Facebook Alban Low http://albanlow.com
James McDermott is a writer based in East Anglia represented by Independent Talent. He is an Associate Artist at Norwich Theatre Royal and Norwich Arts Centre. His play 'Time and Tide' was nominated for two Off West End Theatre Awards (Offies) including one for Best New Play. James has recently written new plays for a number of regional theatres, and is one of the writers on EastEnders.
As a poet, James is widely published in poetry journals and magazines. His debut spoken word poetry collection 'Manatomy' is published by Burning Eye Books and was longlisted for the Polari First Book Prize 2021. James has pamphlets forthcoming from Polari Press and Red Ceilings Press. Twitter @jamesliammcd Instagram @jamesmcdermott1993 Facebook James McDermott https://jamesmcdermottwriter.weebly.com
Kevin Acott is a writer, lecturer, whiskey lover, and Spurs sufferer. He’s a sort of left libertarian/sort of anarchist who feels strangely attracted to French chansons, Greenland and Joseph Conrad as he gets older. His publishing, blog and projects can be found at http://www.kevinacott.com/. Twitter @speranza6162 Instagram @speranza6162