I am king of the Castle. I have climbed the steps, paid my dues at the entrance, my penance in the museum, survived the politicking of the great hall, and now I look out over the battlements and survey my domain.
Around me lies the city spreading outwards. Cathedrals rise up in the north, and to the south are bridges grasping across to the far bank of the river, clutching hold of allies and enemies. Rail lines weave around the architecture, disappearing away, and waving their caps in greeting, like some urban hide and seek with a friend who will soon be gone.
Trains enter the city - invading hordes come to visit or to plunder, and retreat wearied or beaten - or else escaping. Smaller local services dart between, toothbrushes for the national arteries, clearing away the fatty deposits that clog up a restrict flow (Yes I know that mixes metaphors - just think of me as a metaphorical DJ).
I'm sketching, of course, but there's something about watching the city in action that gives it an organic quality. The more you look you see how the layers of history, culture and society interact through the architecture of the urban sprawl. This city is built on medieval remnants, Georgian planning and Victorian industrial construction, then topped with 1970s planning and noughties reinvention.
But this is generalisation - I haven't time for much more. Where it begins to fascinate is on a micro level: walking along the river pathways, seeing the social changes, the way history and building are recycled, reinvented and pastiched by the modern world. Visually this throws up moments of anachronistic joy: graffiti on Victorian brick work; junk sculptures floating on the river; housing behemoths next to Edwardian pubs; swanky new flats where once goods and boats thrived; and fortress art - where institutions look to defend and protect what they have from marauding philistines.
In looking over the miasma of strata that make up the scene I am drawing I chart the way seemingly disparate elements find ways link to each other, see spaces and places in a new light - the context of their surroundings, and I realise, with joy, the beauty of chaos. It is hope, it is danger, it is absurdity, but it is pulsing with potential; and I am reminded why I like cities - mainly the nobbly bits.