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.