Stone bridges have always been a soft spot of mine, the gentle curve of the supporting arches, the rise of solid columns from the water, the rush of the tide at the base. With steel bridges the construction seems obvious, giant Meccano pieces lifted by towering cranes, the fantasy play set of a ten year old boy.
But stone is something else. Stone is back breaking work. Sweat sodden clothing and soaking boots slipping in silt and mud. The creak of supporting timber scaffolding and the groan of taut rope as each piece is lifted into place.
In the extract below, the indeterminable Betty first meets Edward standing on Westminster Bridge. The bridge was completed in 1747 and spanned over 250 metres, an architectural triumph of the time.
The idiot was going to fall in the Thames before he even got the chance to jump. Betty clutched her cloak tighter in a futile attempt to block out the bitter wind and stared at the stranger balancing on the stone railing of Westminster Bridge. A shadow flickered across her soul. It tumbled through her like a wave of nausea until she could hardly catch her breath.
Only a drunk would have picked such a night for contemplating suicide. Summer time would have been preferable.