Windows On The World


From time to time I have worked and even lived in rooms without windows, and it’s not an easy thing to do.

The textile mills that were built all over the north of England in the nineteenth century may have been dark and satanic in many respects, but at least they let daylight and a view of the sky into their vast interiors, where the looms or the spinning machines ran ceaselessly with a noise so deafening no human voice could be heard above the din.

Today many of our factories and offices are windowless and featureless, and we are more deprived of daylight than ever before – until we spill out into the street, and before we disappear again inside a shopping mall.

But windows are so much more than just a way to let in light; they connect us to the world outside. Without even setting foot outdoors I can see so many of the small things that make up life when it’s lived in the moment. I can watch out for The Man Who Is Taken To The Park By His Dog, who follows obediently along behind his border collie as if being led by him and not the other way round. I can watch clouds, or rain, or the long bars of shadow cast by the garden fence in the winter sun, or the filigree of bare twigs and branches against the slowly darkening sky as evening approaches, and the sudden flapping flight of an occasional crow.


Even when I’m not out in the world, I can still feel a part of it; all I have to do is to look out of the window.


6 thoughts on “Windows On The World

  1. You know that crows (and sometimes other birds) flying over trees was an oft-used symbol in Chinese art. It stood for the oncoming autumn, and thus also denoted aging or impending death. That final photo gives me chills.

    1. I’m afraid crows get a bad press all round. We have several pairs that nest in the trees opposite our house and so I see them all the time, even in winter, and I like watching them. We also have a healthy population of magpies who a lot of people get gloomy about (“One for sorrow. ..etc”) and if that were not enough, this is Brönte Country – and the landscape does tend to look rather gothic at this time of year. Lots of Wuthering. I find I see things very much for what they are, and what they are to me, and not for what they represent to other people, though I wouldn’t want to offend and I do try to be sensitive to this. I’m sorry if I made a chill run down your spine. Now I’ve learnt something else I didnt know about the iconography of crows; I can always rely on you to furnish this kind of information.

  2. Got a chuckle out of The Man Who Is Taken To The Park By His Dog! Your pictures brought back found memories of time I spent in the north of England. I have a very good friend who lives in Hebden Bridge.

    BTW – I read your post on my phone when I was coming home on the bus. Then I looked out the window.

    1. Glad to have made you smile – and caused you to look out of the window! The amount of time we all spend looking down at little phone screens these days makes me think we need a national Eyes Up campaign. Or something of the sort…

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