Friday, 23 May 2008

Hard to Know

Stoke railway station, waiting for a train home.

I'm sat in the station cafe drinking coffee and looking out at the small square opposite the main entrance, in the middle of which stands a statue of Josiah Wedgewood, of the pottery dynasty, life-sized, and made from dark metal. He holds a small urn in one hand and gazes down at it contemplatively, as if gauging its weight prior to throwing it somewhere.

On either side of the square is a row of three trees. They are London Plane trees, easily identifiable by the fact that their bark is peeling away to reveal lighter shades of grey and yellow beneath. This species is good at withstanding the effects of pollution and is therefore often planted in city centres. They line the edges of Corporation Street in Birmingham, and loom over Bedford's dismal bus station.

I find it much easier to retain knowledge of the natural environment than of most other subjects. If I heard Josiah Wedgewood's life story today I would have forgotten it all within a week. If I saw another statue of him I would need to see his name on the plinth to know that it was him.

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