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époque press
pronounced: /epƏk/
definition: /time/era/period

1. Highbury. Flashback to a conversation with a friend years ago in Koblenz. The idea of astronomy filled her with terror, how small and insignificant we are in the vast reaches of space. It was all best ignored, she said, we had enough troubles down here.


2. Finsbury Park. I keep a small notebook for journeys on the night-buses and write down snatches of dialogues and monologues I overhear, many of which feel stranger than fiction. Some people become familiar. One man talks to himself constantly, to invisible beings of unknown description. To write his words down is as much, if not more, an act of distancing as empathy.


3. Arsenal, on a bridge above the train-tracks.


4. Kentish Town, walking towards Camden.


5. Wapping, looking out towards Canary Wharf and the Isle of Dogs. Nearby is the site of the old Execution Dock, where pirates and mutineers were hung and left to rot.


6. Blackwall Tunnel, underneath the Thames.


7. Highbury. Growing up, there was no sense that the night was simply the absence of the sun. It was a realm entirely its own and we listened to many old Irish stories of the Banshee, the Sluagh, the Dearg Due, the Aos sí. Even cities like London cannot banish stories like these, from Thomas Nash's The Terrors of the Night to urban legends like Spring-heeled Jack. The night is another place entirely.


8. Portstewart on the north coast of Ireland, near to where I grew up. A tranquil picturesque shore that conceals a long history of shipwrecks and massacres, and has not entirely forgotten what it is capable of.


9. Highbury. The night mist turns everyday places into surrealist landscapes. Buildings and people changing, disappearing and reappearing. As in dreams, there is always the possibility, and memory, of such a scene tilting into menace.


10. The French Alps. Escaping for the first time after lockdown, high into the mountains. In the chalet, there's a wine cellar that had originally been a priest hole to hide members of the clergy from French revolutionaries and the guillotine. Outside, on the balcony, the sky did not become entirely dark at night, and the silence was broken with the call of circling birds of prey and wolves somewhere in the trees.

Darran Anderson is an Irish writer living in London.

He is the author of ‘Inventory’ and ‘Imaginary Cities.’

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