online: 22 june 2004
modified: 22 june 2004

21 june 2004 longest day, shortest night.

All day I'd been feeling tired, but not now.

19:31 A seat at the tumulus, looking at east London through clear air. Tall buildings, cranes, towers and steeples lit by evening sunlight (not yet sunset). Predominantly blue sky, with occasional grey clouds, quite low, and white streaks higher up. No wind at treetops and the clouds are almost stationary...

...I can hear what could be Russian spoken on a seat about 10 metres away by an oldish man and a young one. They get up and walk away before I can speak to them...

I breathe in deeply... and slowly out... contented, enjoying the emptiness and the spaciousness of the field before me, the seemingly limitless city, and the ancient blue of the sky. Only the insects are visibly active - everything else seems to be sharing the fullness and stillness of this the longest day. One aircraft, one bird, a few people in the distance... And unseen are the eyes and the minds that will read this tomorrow, or later... I suppose each will imagine scenes somewhat different from the exact appearances before me, and around.

I turn ... before I go, to look at the blackberry flowers, and horsetail, and other plants thrusting themselves through the iron railings that encircle the tumulus. I hear occasional bird calls as I watch two women in long skirts walk slowly across the field with their faces and clothes lit up by the sunlight, now becoming pinkish as the evening proceeds.

20:35 This scene - almost as still as a picture - I'm so pleased to be in it. Nothing seems to be changing ... But now I get up and move to watch the day gradually changing until it becomes the shortest night.

As I walk away one of the two women I saw begins to play a recorder from the top of the tumulus. I wonder if this is the start of a vigil? ... I hear singing and see the one with a recorder dancing slowly among the pine trees.

...on the way to the hill I passed through a dark wood (that always reminds me of Dante)... pausing to look at the twisted trunk and branches of a large oak tree...

20:55 Parliament Hill. I arrived in shadow just before the sun left the summit. A woman (eyes closed, standing and slowly moving from one tai chi posture to another) was lit from head to foot in the last moments of red sunlight. A clock is striking 9. The tall buildings, to the east of St Paul's, are still lit by pink light while the shadow of this hill reaches half way towards them. I see a swallow or a swift fly eastwards overhead. People are gathering.

Feeling cold I walk away but then a rainbow springs into existence in a pinkish grey mist to the south west - from where there comes a cold wind and large drops of rain - while the sunlight gets redder. I stay to watch.

21:32 I'm now in the train. Suddenly feeling cold (and with the rain obliging me to close the handheld) I walked away quickly to keep warm.

It's getting dark. I look back from the train windows, now wet, to see Parliament Hill silhouetted against darkening sky. Not many people in the train. Those that are here look subdued, some are reading. Pools of rainwater on the station platform at Camden Road... The longest evening, so calm and still, ends in sudden wind and local wetness...

Back home I discover that sunset in London was at 21:21 - so I probably left Parliament Hill at that moment. I set my alarm clock to a bit before 04:43, the official moment of sunrise.

The alarm did not ring but I awoke about 4. The room was quite light... I was dreaming and thinking that, if trying widen the design process, it is a mistake to adapt to professional, academic or economic self-interest... but difficult not to... the disobedience of dreams and of spontaneous thoughts.

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