You pass the checkpoint, a table beside the final perimeter building. You become aware of the strangeness of sound. The wind is strong, but it doesn’t billow in your ear and make the whistle and wham you associate with the elements. It just carries noises: a forever changing playlist, a compilation of inner-city field recordings that warp and distend your perception of the landmark before you. // The lapping of The Thames locates you, keeps you in mind of the scale of the site, the sight, and it contextualises you. You see the stacks as icons, faded structures that have achieved respect in dormancy. // Chatclackskreee – – a jolt to the back of your head as the girder-stripping and mechanical sounds of locomotion assault you. You are reminded of the noises that the monolith once emitted, 50 years displaced, but know what you hear now has a harder, faster, less authentic quality about it, precisely because the world you inhabit is harder, faster and less authentic. Clackatchatskeefszzh-clack. // Unseen chatter you catch as echoes, so the shouts and cries seem to isloate you more. Those people you see you pass, nod to, smile at, walk by. Nobody says “hello”, the only voices are those distant. // You didn’t expect the howling and mewling. The closest to massed pleas you’ve heard. Were your eyes and mind not absorbed this could be the stuff of nightmares. You will welcome a soundless moment, when next it comes. // The silence rings from stone and steel and glass of this massive monument to power and failure. It is the silence of sunken capital, the silence of neglect, the silence of dereliction and the silence of opportunity. the silence snuggles up to you and holds your ears down against your skull, forcing you to see instead of hear. The silence makes you crane your neck. The silence alarms you, and yet is the most comforting of the noises arrayed. The silence is you, alone. The silence does not belong here, it is frequently broken. The silence allows itself to be total.
© Matthew Sheret, 2008