Thursday, 19 October 2017

Infinity in the Palm of Your Hand And Eternity in an Hour: @R_Siddall Leads the Next #UrbanGeology Walk on Saturday


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Daily Constitutional Special Correspondent & London Walks Pen David Tucker writes…




“Geologists tend to be very relaxed about time. When you deal in millions of years, it’s hard to get worked up about next week’s deadline.”

That’s Dr. Matt Loader, the other Geologist on the London Walks team.

Whenever I think about Matt’s and Ruth’s Urban Geology walks – Ruth’s doing one this weekend (2.30 pm, Saturday, October 21 from Monument Tube, Fish Street Hill exit) – what they do, what they show us, what they evoke, the way they change the way you see London – Matt’s delightful, off-hand remark is always there in my mind, riding shotgun as it were.

As is – of all things – the opening lines of William Blake’s great poem Auguries of Innocence:

To see a World in a Grain of Sand
And a Heaven in a Wild Flower
Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand
And Eternity in an hour

Especially that last pair of lines:

             Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand
And Eternity in an hour

How can you not have Blake’s wonder and awe about creation and “Infinity in the palm of your hand” starburst in your mind when Ruth runs her hand across a building stone – a piece of granite, for example – and points out what you can see in it and the millions of years – as near as dammit to eternity, to time stretching out to the crack of Infinity – of titanic dramas it took to engender it. Titanic dramas that – if you see the stone the way Ruth sees it, see it with her eyes (and you do by walk’s end) – are crystallised – deeply interfused (to use another poet’s phrase) – in the stone.

Once you start getting those “reads” from London’s building stones – on Saturday’s walk it’s “fossils, volcanoes, seas, asteroids and time stretching back to just this side of Eternity” – well, trust me, London will never look the same again.


Saturday’s Urban Geology Walk is titled Eastcheap and the Tower – A History of London’s Building Stones. It goes at 2.30 pm on Saturday, October 21. The meeting point is just outside the FishStreet Hill exit of Monument Tube.

The walk is guided by the distinguished University College London geologist Ruth Siddall.

After thought. How extraordinary is it to think of the Tower of London – for once – as an utter newbie. In the big picture – the GTS picture – it’s only been around for the last Planck* or so. As they say, “on the GTS (Geologic time scale) the three million year Quaternary period, the time of recognizable humans, is too small to be visible at this scale.” And since the Tower’s only been around for the last 900 years or so… Well, you’ll get the drift.

*Planck time is the time light takes to travel one Planck length.










A London Walk costs £10 – £8 concession. To join a London Walk, simply meet your guide at the designated tube station at the appointed time. Details of all London Walks can be found at www.walks.com.



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