Through the window by which I sit at my desk upstairs, I can see the top of a tower.
It sticks out like a sore thumb on a fingerless hand, which has been severed from its once-accompanying arm, and placed in some kind of embalming tank surrounded by desperate neon letters saying, “PLEASE LOOK AT ME!” – but slightly more sightly.
It’s certainly an anomaly, put it that way. Amid the otherwise innocuous, boring things visible from this suburban West London window – a smattering of trees, the watercolour sky which is framed from below by the rooves which top the adjacent row of houses – there’s this pastel-like lime green, pyramid-shaped roof with a strange, globular adornment atop it, which sits on top of the tower.
I can only see the top two segments of the tower: its green roof, as just described, and the second-to-top segment. Of those which I can see, each side of the second-to-top segment has five embrasure windows. It doesn’t look like a mosque, but it does have an air of the Middle East about it… I don’t know why, because it’s not Middle Eastern at all. I guess it wouldn’t look to out of place in Valetta, the fortified capital of Malta, but then again maybe it would. Who knows?!
What is certain, to me at least, is that you could quite easily imagine a deformed man or woman living up there, cast asunder by a society not yet evolved enough to accept that some people look different to the anonymous mass. You can imagine him or her – let’s call him or her Colin, or Colene (you choose) – sitting up there, peering through the glassless embrasure windows down at the unknowing ants below, as he or she sobs endlessly into his bowl of lukewarm water, which has bits of soggy bread in it for some reason.
All Colin or Colene wants is to be allowed down from that bloody tower, and to have someone know him or her for who he or she is inside, and not just know him or her for his or her abnormal exterior from a distance. But the crazy thing is, Colin or Colene is up there of his or her own free will. His or her debilitating self-consciousness is what drove him or her to have a breakdown, break into the building from which the tower rises, climb the tower’s steps, and live a life of self-exclusion in the damp and cold surrounding of the top of the tower – which certainly has no Wi-Fi connection.
The funny thing is, if Colin or Colene came down and once again walked among the people of West London, in their myriad forms, those West Londoners would notice him or her, sure. But they would think nothing more than a passing “oh, he/she looks slightly different”. And then completely just go back to thinking about whatever shit they need to pick up for dinner later that night, or some hilarious meme they saw on Facebook earlier that day.
In all honesty, if Colin or Colene marketed him/herself properly, he or she could become an internet sensation in this ‘eternal-fifteen-minutes-of-fame-for-no-particular-reason’ world in which we all fester. If only he or she realised that, instead of self-reflecting a largely outdated attitude of society towards individual difference, he or she could do well for him or herself.
I mean, who knows?! With the modern world of internet dating flourishing as it is, he or she could even find him or herself a nice lady friend, or man friend (I don’t know his or her sexuality); perhaps someone who shares his or her anxieties… all he or she would have to do would be to pluck up the courage to send her or him that first message, and then they could get talking, and both realise that they are not alone in their debilitating visions of self. Perhaps, if he or she plucked up enough confidence, he or she could meet someone who didn’t have the same self-consciousness as him or her, but was just a good enough person to not see people as shells and instead see the deeper them.
Whoever it is, it could be the start of something truly beautiful. Happiness, even. Perhaps they would fall madly in love, and he or she could propose to her or him outside Leicester Square tube station, or something, and she or he could say “YES! GOD, YES!!!” and they could move in together shortly after. They could plan a wedding together, and both get decent jobs in order to afford a nice quality of life – a shared life. And, of course, then would come the talk of children. They could spend hours thinking up the ideal names for their boys and girls – ‘Jemima’ for a girl, and ‘Finlay’ for a boy, perhaps. They could have twins, and little Jemima and Finlay could grow up to lead perfectly normal lives, unhindered by their father’s or mother’s passed anxieties. Finlay would perhaps flourish at football in his younger days, and then grow into a highly intelligent debater and, perhaps, a respected author; and Jemima, she could flourish in mathematics as a child, and then go on to be the maths expert on ‘Countdown’, raking in a six-digit salary. And then, with the kids doing so very well, both having their own highly successful children, Colin’s or Colene’s story would be a mere blip in the family line. A blip which was overcome with the most astute bravery, surpassing even the successes of his or her brilliant children, and his or her children’s’ brilliant children. So, it’s a shame that he or she can’t see through the distorted image of him or herself, it really is.
Anywho, it quite an odd building to see from such an innocuous vantage point, as I say.