The profound and the profane are in equal measure the substance and texture of this unimaginable city.
In olfactory entwinements on a clear still morning, moustaches of smoke wind lazily from houses and cigarettes mixing with nostril injections of supermarket aftershave, the acrid memories of passers by on their brisk walks into work. But I linger amongst this haze, startled by crystalline illuminations, their composed flashing spectres a collision of different worlds which would normally turn their backs to each other.
A window to a bar across from the cathedral reflects this contradiction and I am led for a few moments to contemplate beer pumps at the ends of pews, barking publicans with dog collars, drunks emerging from underneath misericords still gurning, malevolent, fists flailing. As I meander, I pass an old tea shop, freshly made cakes succulent behind the glass. So magnified in this lens is my desire for just a small gleaming morsel that I fancy myself as a dog, one of those little ones, shaggy haired, excitable, licking the window pane. But for all my effort, I am no closer to satisfaction, instead tasting city grime in my saliva. Spitting out this unpleasant reality, I shake off my silliness, continue on my journey. Transitioning down into the underpass, the rumble of frantic commuting cars overhead, I encounter a subterranean hill. Like a little girl’s drawing, it is illustrated with colourful flowers, its peaks and valleys benign reminders of carefree childhood walks in the country, meadowsweet, grass soaked. In sharp focus though, this hill barely conceals its dire purpose as underneath lies the dreaded monster of my imagination in the huddled form of a very real life, a very real cruelty. I Look, then look away, then try to forget lest it might imprint itself onto my eyes, enter into my day, a head on car crash at speed. Quickly adjusting my view, I look back, this time protected by mediating goggles. I muse about an advertising campaign appropriating the metaphor of the hill, that aspiration to get to the summit, to achieve that special goal. I punch the air in triumph. And then I begin to apprehend the bunched up dirty bedclothes as a graph in some business meeting with spikes and dips, then a graduated ascent, and eventually winning, getting to the top, far far away from a loser’s bottom line. And all this time the monster tries to sleep, captive; buried under all this burdensome weight.