City of Sound is about cities, design, architecture, music, media, politics and more. Written by Dan Hill since 2001.


    As the cutter moved off across the lagoon he went back to his chair. For a few minutes the two men stared across the table at each other, the insects outside bouncing off the wire mesh as the sun lifted into the sky. At last Kerens spoke.

    ‘Alan, I’m not sure whether I shall be leaving.’

    Without replying, Bodkin took out his cigarettes. He lit one carefully, then sat back smoking it calmly. ‘Do you know where we are?’ he asked after a pause. ‘The name of this city?’ When Kerens shook his head he said: ‘Part of it used to be called London; not that it matters. Curiously enough, though, I was born here. Yesterday I rowed over to the old University quarter, a mass of little creeks, actually found the laboratory where my father used to teach. We left here when I was six, but I can just remember being taken to meet him one day. A few hundred yards away there was a planetarium, I saw a performance once – that was before they had to re-align the projector. The big dome is still there, about twenty feet below water. It looks like an enormous shell, fucus growing all over it, straight out of The Water Babies. Curiously, looking down at the dome seemed to bring my childhood much nearer. To tell the truth, I’d more or less forgotten it – at my age all you have are the memories of memories. After we left here our existence became completely nomadic, and in a sense this city is the only home I’ve ever known –’ He broke off abruptly, his face suddenly tired.

    ‘Go on,’ Kerens said evenly.

p.74 of 1965 Penguin edition.

See also: Suspended at a junction in time: Australia, Silent Running, The Drowned World and the University of Queensland; A birth, in 13 places: 12. Bloomsbury, Central London


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