Red Brick

The brick in the top right hand corner of the building opposite caught my attention. The window of my third floor office frames an architecturally fraught scene of new and old, domestic and industrial. Red brick competes with concrete completes with a jumble of overflow pipes, gutters, grey sheet cladding and fluted chimney pots. Families live in the office style apartments and small business have been set up in reclaimed homes. Somewhere behind this Escher type construct the rest of London lies, low and grey in the early morning light, but I cannot see it from my window.

I can see that the cement that holds the brick in place has receded slightly over time and that the exposed edges of this brick are crumbling and eroded. The surface is also covered in a fine patina of soot and dirt. I am too far away to see in detail but I imagine the surface of the brick is pocked and marked from acid rain and freeze thaw. Placed where it is the brick is out of reach of humans, birds, animals. Apart from perhaps the delicate feet of an insect or two, the brick has not been touched or examined in any way, by anyone, since it was cemented in to place.

The builder who placed the brick there would have been standing on rough wooden scaffold planks. He was more an artist than the average brick layer. The tall arches of the windows are mirrored in five rows of brick, the first row recessed, and the bricks have been turned on end to create a different pattern. His hands would have been rough and dry from handling the clay, perhaps grazed from scraping the brick, or nicked from cuts made when shaping and sizing the adjoining bricks.

Decades after they were first laid the red of the clay and the fire of the kiln remain in the brick. When the sun shines, the buildings glows.

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Filed under 5 Minute Sketches, Blog, Creative writing, Places

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