On Sunday 27th July, the southern towers at Didcot Power Station will be demolished.
On the one hand, I'm delighted to see them go. These coal fed monsters are an ugly grey smear on the landscape, their billowing clouds an ever present reminder of our unhealthy and (I hope) outdated reliance on fossil fuels. Every time I see them I'm reminded of an argument I had with a Welsh farmer who was angry that a planned wind farm would ruin his view of the landscape. I hope with all my heart that their demolition marks a visible step towards a greener and cleaner economy.
On the other hand, I've spent 30 years living in the long shadow of these cooling towers. For as long as I can remember they've been an almost ubiquitous feature of my horizon. When I was 5 years old my father gave me a one pound bribe to play a small part in a satirical sketch filmed outside the main gates calling for their destruction. Every day, journeying to and from school I remember seeing the plumes of steam coiling upwards and in winter the red light atop the tallest tower was ever blinking in the darkness. When I learned to drive I used to navigate around Oxfordshire by my view of the towers and more recently when I was training through the winter for an ultra marathon, I remember looping close underneath the towers as I slogged along the Thames Path between Clifton Hampdon and Culham, knowing that there were "only" 10miles to go before I was warm and home again.
I won't be in the UK to watch their demolition, and in two weeks time it will be strange to look south as I travel home along the M40. I think I'll be glad to see them gone, but it won't be without a hint of nostalgic sadness.