I was in St Ives in Cornwall in the middle of October for five days and very nice it was too - seagulls (too many), sea (everywhere), dogs (too many) and green wheelie bins (cluttering the narrow streets of this former fishing settlement and far too big for people to keep indoors). From our digs I could look over the bay to the Godrevy lighthouse (which gave rise to a sermon about Virginia Woolf’s novel ‘To the Lighthouse,’ based on this same view, though from a hundred years before). The lighthouse came to symbolise permanence and art (among other things) for Woolf, but it did not occur to me until returning back to the mean streets of the city that we now had our very own lighthouse for the metropolis, not shining over the moonlit bay of St Ives but glimpsed briefly in the gaps between the office complexes which are now engulfing us at St Giles.
On the evening of Sunday, 30th September, in the presence of the Bishop of London, Sarah Mullally, the Mayor of Camden and many others, our own lighthouse officially and for the first time lit up the night sky. The bells rang, people cheered a little, some even said ‘Wow,’ and then we repaired for cake and ale. It was a real festive occasion and my thanks must go to Jonathan and Iestyn and all those who sang so well and others who made it all possible, not to mention our contractors, CES Ltd.
What few people do not know is that the next night the lights did not come on! nor the night after that or after that, until I realised the problem, made a fuss, and eventually got a ‘man’ along to play around with the programming circuit or something like that. Anyway, all thankfully past now and every evening the tower puts on a dazzling display for the people of the West End to see, should they trouble themselves to put down their phones and look up. This, then, is our lighthouse, our beacon, and I can only hope that just as the lighthouse at Godrevy across St Ives Bay came to signify a light shining in the darkness for the novelist so too our lighthouse might at the very least cause one or two to consider eternal verities for a change, or maybe just not to be so nasty to each other.