NEW IS THE ENEMY OF GREAT

All advertising agencies prioritise the urgent over the important.
We can’t help it, it’s instinctive.
What must be done ‘right now’ takes precedence.
And the truly important has to wait until it’s also urgent.
In the same way we tend to prioritise anything new.
Novelty takes precedence over the familiar.
Whatever it is.
I’ve lived in London all my life.
So I barely even see it anymore.
I take it for granted, like water to a fish.
For instance, the CST offices are next to Tower Bridge.
So every morning I walk past The Tower of London and hardly notice it.
Most of us live our lives like this.
We never notice anything unless our attention is drawn to it.
A few years ago, my wife’s sister was visiting us from Singapore.
I took her to a small concert in The Tower Of London.
It was on a Friday evening after it was closed.
The Tower has a very different feeling when it isn’t packed with tourists.
When you’re alone in it.
Suddenly you can feel the history seeping out of the walls.
Especially at twilight.
It was a tiny concert, to celebrate the memorial where beheadings took place in The Tower grounds.
Strangely, there are less than a dozen of these.
Commoners were beheaded on nearby Tower Hill.
Only nobility were executed inside The Tower itself.
First we looked at the place where they’d had their heads hacked from their bodies.
People like Anne Boleyn, Catherine Howard, Lady Jane Grey.
It was right in front of the tiny Tudor houses where they’d spent their last days.
We walked where they must have walked, between the houses and the chopping block.
And we stood where they spent their last moments on earth.
Then we went into a small nearby chapel, built by Henry VIII.
This is where the concert took place.
It was sung by The Queen’s Choir, just acapella voices, no instruments.
The intricate, mournful harmonies echoed against the stone walls of the little chapel.
And under our feet, in the chapel, were buried the bones of those who’d been beheaded.
As their crime was treason, they weren’t allowed formal graves.
And the music we were listening to was what they’d written immediately before their executions.
Their death songs.
One was written by one of Henry VIII’s Queens.
Proclaiming her loyalty to him, and asking his subjects to love him.
Written while Henry was signing her death warrant.
Another was written by the brother of one of his Queens.
Who Henry accused of incest with his sister.
As an excuse to behead both of them.
In the same place, Henry had imprisoned the mother of a Bishop.
The Bishop fled to France rather than swear loyalty to Henry over The Pope.
So Henry had his mother beheaded.
But the mother tried to run.
And she was hacked as she ran, and beheaded where she fell.
Another was Sir Thomas Moore.
Who also refused to recognise Henry’s authority over The Pope.
After his beheading he was sanctified by The Catholic Church in Rome.
So, under our feet were the bones of, amongst others, two Queens and a Saint.
We were listening to their music, their last creative act on earth.
Walking where they last walked.
Breathing where they last breathed.
And then we came out into the Tower at night.
And we walked around and through the dark and empty place.
The history crackled like electricity.
Cruelty and torture and death everywhere.
I tried hard to imagine what it must have felt like.
I tried to put myself in their place.
But of course, I couldn’t.
And it reminded me of the title of Damien Hirst’s shark in a tank.
“The Impossibility Of Death In The Mind Of Someone Living”
Eventually we left The Tower of London, and went out into the bright lights of the city.
The next morning I was walking to work again, past the Tower.
The sun was up and it was a tourist attraction again.
Parents dragging children round an old building they didn’t want to see.
Trying to find ice cream and cola.
And I passed a group of Japanese tourists outside their hotel.
A big, anonymous, modern brick building opposite the Tower of London.
They were smiling and posing for a photograph.

The photographer had his back to The Tower of London, and was taking their picture in front of their hotel.

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    Makes you wonder the merits of outdoor advertising. I have always maintained that any outdoor site that remains up past about four weeks becomes part of the environment and is a waste of advertising spend. I live in Pakistan where many outdoor billboards remain the same for as long as 6 months!

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    Dave

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    One measly comment [even though the lovely Sabine doesn’t look like she’s got the measles] is insufficient feedback for a person of your standing, and who toils hard to deliver the goods on a regular basis.

    By correcting the situation, I sense I type for many.

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    + Sabene. Forgive my typo – I am but a clumsy Griller oops, done it again.

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    I kind of feel that way about all those magnificent men in their flying machines. They brought death and destruction to many. The air shows of today where people gawp in amazement at all those glorious death machines.
    BTW my American friend called the Tower, London Castle, which I thought was fun.

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    I took my ex’s mum around the tower and into the crown jewels. She told me they were all fakes, and no-one in their right mind would display such treasure publicly.
    12 steel doors were not enough to kill her pessimism.

    There’s a ghost train runs across London in the early hours of the morning carrying Nuclear waste material. It’s guarded by the SAS, but you’d never know to look at it.