Sometimes I feel as though I’m walking through life on mute, like when you turn the sound off on a film. You watch the characters do their thing but they don’t communicate with you. In that moment, and even though you’ve watched the scene hundreds of times, you swear that the performers are acting slightly differently. Their lips are saying different things. Their gestures are more exaggerated. The lead hero cocks an eyebrow that he hadn’t before. The leading lady wears a different dress.
I felt this recently walking through an old city, surrounded by ghosts. The ghosts of footprints, of wine glasses and lager bottles, of laughter and sadness. I walked the same paths, but I’m not wearing the same shoes anymore. As our cells multiply and die, I can’t even look at my hand and pretend that I can still see where your prints interlocked with mine. I’m not the same person anymore. I have no connection to this past, and yet I still see it every time I go back to The Old Places.
These dim echoes gnaw away – irritating rather than destructive – a mosquito bite you just want to itch. Sounds, smells and music are the fuel, and they come suddenly like a monsoon over the mountains. I’m a time traveller in a broken machine, that cannot sit still, with no future date to aim for and only past milestones for comfort. I want to turn on the sound.
(*photograph is not mine – taken from dunstablehistory.co.uk)