Country mouse contemplates The Shard

If you haven’t been to London recently, it has changed because of one building: The Shard at London Bridge. Due to be completed this summer, it looks set to be Europe’s tallest building, with 72 floors. It pierces the sky like a Mafioso’s stiletto.

It’s massively beautiful and dominant, but buries poor old St Paul’s Cathedral further from our thoughts. From the roof terrace at work, you look out on a London that is abuzz with cranes; the city seems further apart than ever from the rest of the country.

Recently, staring half-sad, half-mesmerised at the view, I noticed a large bird gliding towards me-it was a peregrine. It didn’t flare its wings until I felt I was about to be hit, but, two wing beats later, it was perched in all its majesty on top of Tate Modern.

The peregrine is among the most widespread of all birds of prey, and it’s also one of the greatest, with a stoop that can reach 200mph. The bird’s great champion Richard Treleaven wrote: ‘Of all the wild creatures the peregrine is the most truly symbolic of freedom.’ How wonderful it must be to take or leave man’s imprint on the world.

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