Locked Steps

Remembering the protests in Istanbul, cheering groups heard at range all over the hill developed into a general swarm on a scale that implicated the entire neighbourhood.

Here in a canal boat on an isolated Manchester dock, a warm Friday evening. The bristling energy of young boys grouping with a flinty antagonism slowly drives other groups of sun seekers away.

The still water of the canal keeps a photographic record, blinking stripes of redbrick mills and factories in the reflecting surface.


Longstanding relationships of buildings to water contain in them a folded silent history when compared to the recent layers of urban renewal, and with the small fast moving and unpredictable human figures. Here the canal surface becomes the screen of a forensic tableau, a cold case in the process of unfolding.


I’d forgotten to pack it with the hold luggage so my penknife was confiscated from the backpack as it passed through x-rays at Istanbul airport. It’s the second of only two recent purchases I’ve lost, the other was a cap forgotten among the blankets in a sleeper bunk.


With such losses I’m caught in the throws of a pattern of movements beyond my control. Carefully chosen, the object had become a part of me that has spun out of my orbit, leaving a void that draws the world uncertainly in its place.


First time flying since beginning the trip and the biggest contrast so far encountered, I walked disjointed out of Manchester airport still mentally fumbling for the knife.


We’ve spent the last three days on a narrow boat travelling at walking pace towards Manchester City centre along the Rochdale canal descending the waterway in thirty five manually operated locks from the Pennine hills. The route has a lot of embedded living moulded into it being the original highway for industrial transportation. Abandoned cotton mills give way to urban residential environments crumbling and rebuilt. Habits of living evident in the house yards backing onto the canals. People to be seen in order from the most legitimate walking the dog, fishing and sitting on a can of beer in the unsurveilled canal side undergrowth.


Fishing links in with Istanbul where we saw men in suits among the line up on the bridge fishing for sardines. Imagining them leaving the house dressed for a job they no longer had but keeping the idea and appearance of it. It’s perhaps fifty years or more since the canal and adjoining industry were in step, this route is now a quiet space between banks with the very occasional boat sliding along the back corridor, a semi-private back yard.



About nameerdavis

I'm drawn to the crowd and the culture it foments.
This entry was posted in crowd formation, public space, screenplay, urban space and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

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