Today, of course the tops of roofs are no longer smooth. They bristle with flagpoles, antennae, radar dishes and aerials...and now, in some parts of London, the figure of a man (they are there in all the pictures but you may have to click on them to make them full size to see).
Is the human brain hooked by the image of a body just as much as it stops and wonders at the sight of a face? If we are capable of seeing a face in the patterns of craters on our satellite can we see figures of people as easily too? When I was young I remember shadows becoming arms, legs and torsos in an otherwise unoccupied room and then later, when I studied art, I would endlessly draw people and try to capture their movements in stokes of my pen.
Anthony Gormley's statues, though, are still. They stand like sentinels. The same mould as on Crosby beach and the effect is just as arresting. Their impassivity is part of their power. Even though they are just life-size
they are immediately and strikingly visible
once you start to look.
And although at ground level they disappear in to the crowd
at the top of buildings they intrigue and then entertain as once you have seen one then others magically appear
as if the eye has been trained.
But then there is this
the man alone on the massive blank concrete edge and it is this image that haunts me. He is just there, staring at nothing, and no matter how much he looks at himself
he is always alone.
All the above pictures (except for the last) were taken on both sides of the Thames close to Waterloo Bridge which leads to the South Bank Arts Complex and the Hayward Gallery - the home of Anthony Gormley's Blind Light exhibition at the moment. The last picture is outside my publisher's office block on Euston Road (and I think that may even be my editor's bicycle reflected in the window).