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  • Asirini Parakramawansha

Who Nose Why These Are Here?

Updated: Sep 9, 2019

Don't you love the way rainbow fractals catch in your hair as you step through the lens? It looks almost as beautiful as the looming Victorian houses and shining modern architecture on this smoggy London morning. Let us walk down these twisting roads and gape at the vibrant colours, styles and unique attitudes of these buildings. It doesn't feel that far fetched to imagine that they're alive. After all, some of them already have ears and noses.

A cartoonish depiction of London's buildings with faces
Peek-a-building! - An illustration of my view through the lens in London (drawn by yours truly)

The question is, how and why would these buildings have facial features? The way I see them, they're not streets of architecture, but rows of idle giants listening in on London's morning hustle and bustle. That could be an explanation if all of them had these bizarre protrusions, but strangely, they seem to be few and far apart. Or maybe that's what these buildings want us to believe! Judging from all these narrow, looping roads and imposing structures, you could almost think that the city was trying to get us lost... I can almost hear their little whispers as they trick us and smirk secret jokes to each other through hidden faces. Maybe the nosy brick beasts have been listening in on our hunt for them and are leading us on a merry little chase?


But before we jump to conclusions, let us remember that there is always a scientific explanation to take into account. What's to say that this isn't simply an evolutionary advantage of this indigenous breed of English architecture? But what adaptive advantage would noses offer? One theory could be that the beasts have an affinity for eau de English rain and traffic jams. Another thought inspired by the sight of these historic Goliaths is that they could have grown these anatomical additions due to their own personas. After all, only a very nosy house would ever want to have literal ears on their outer walls in the bustle of central London. With all that noise, it's a wonder that they haven't gone deaf yet!


Sniffing out, well, sniffers.


It turns out that we aren't the only ones who have been theorising about this bizarre phenomenon. London's curious facial features have even baffled their residents and led to a bombardment of local legends. The most famed of these tales is the story of the mystical Seven Noses of Soho. As we wander among the throngs of Londoners, you can almost hear the excited mumbling of those retelling the myth. The legend goes that, through some fantastical miracle, Soho's buildings grew seven noses. Now these noses lie waiting to be discovered and the lucky explorer who does manage to find all seven will become rich beyond their wildest dreams! Okay, I know what you're thinking. These buildings look ancient! I bet everyone in London has found the noses by now... But that's the thing. Only five of these magical honkers have ever been uncovered and even one of those aren't technically in Soho! I guess that means the hunt is still on. So quick, grab your net and tranquilliser smelling salts. It looks like we have some noses to catch!


The Lord's secret nose job


Admiralty arch nose
So that's where Voldemort's nose went!

After a long day of bugle (Bugle? Ha! I love cockney slang!) tracking, it seems we have finally managed to get some results. Ladies and gentleman, boys and girls, I present to you the famed proboscis of the Admiralty Arch! This little booger's been nesting on inside of the iconic arch as far as anyone can remember. But while we admire its beauty in its natural habitat, let's get back to figuring out why in Pinocchio's nose it's here to begin with.


Some locals have informed me that this could be a cheeky English joke at Napoleon's expense. Apparently, the old French general had quite the honker and this could simply be an excuse to make fun of him. It's even become a tradition for horse riders and mounted police going through the arch to tweak the little protrusion and "rub Napoleon's nose in it". But this could always be a fond remembrance instead of a passionate prank. If you just twist the lens a little bit, than this becomes Duke Wellington's nose and its actually rumoured to bring good luck to anyone who touches it. Though I'd imagine that if you managed to touch a nose that's situated two metres up a wall, in a very narrow arch, in the middle of a very busy road, you would already have Leprechaun level luck. But it doesn't stop there! Let us tilt our beads to the side just a bit and uncover one last secret view of this mischievous whiffer.


If you look through the arch, you will see the majestic Trafalgar square. Proudly standing in the centre of it all is Nelson' column with Lord Nelson keeping watch over London from its peak. But this seemingly innocent monument has quite a hilarious secret. It's rumoured that when the statue was being lifted a whopping 169 feet to the top of the column, the builders were worried that Lord Nelson's schnoz may just snap off. So, just to be safe, they built a spare nose for the Lord. But where could they keep the spare? A secure cupboard? An art studio? In an empty pocket? Of course not! The builders did the most sensible thing and kept the nose in the most handy-dandiest of places. In the inside walls of the nearest completed national monument!


Did you hear something?


Huzzuh! I think we've found our second nose! Oh-wait. Is that an ear? It seems that we have managed to stumble out of Soho and into Covent Gardens. Apparently, the walls have ears here so try not to say anything too important. The whole of London will know by the end of the day! Apparently, these ears are a newer addition to London's face. I can't imagine what it must be like to always have an open ear in such a crowded place as this. Just imagine the all the secrets these buildings have been witness to. Though it could be a good thing. You can be sure that if something bad were to happen on these streets, the buildings will at least be able to testify and perhaps keep us all a little bit safer. Nothing much is known about the ears' opinion on this, but London's certainly have a very upturned attitude towards all of this surveillance and monitoring.


Big Nose is Watching... Always watching


Underground sign with cctv cameras
The buildings have eyes too... They're just a little bit harder to spot

It turns out that these noses do have a logical explanation. An artist by the name of Rick Buckley in 1997. Rick was one of many citizens in London who were becoming increasingly concerned about the installation of CCTV cameras around the city. I mean, anyone's who has ever read 1984 should be able to understand. So, to make his point, Rick installed dozens of plaster replicas of his nose all around the city. Apparently he managed to get it done "right under the cameras' noses". As for the ears, another artist called Tim Fishlock has claimed to be their maker. He, however has provided no explanation behind his masterpiece. I for one, would still like to believe that there's more to these hidden wonders than just plaster and amusing political arguments.


And ever since the creation of these first two displays of artwork, many more plaster facial features have been added to London (I even hear that the city has an eye now!). So where did these curious anatomical protrusions come from? Could the buildings of London have made these ones themselves after being inspired by Rick and Tim? Despite my thorough investigations into and even interrogation of these architectural features, these walls seem to be very good at keeping quiet. Maybe in a couple more decades, they will grow lips and then we could finally know the truth behind London's bizarrely lively streets. Until then, let's twist our lenses and continue with our hunt. After all, will always be a million more treasures and mysteries to catch when you venture through the eye of a kaleidoscope...

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