The City on a Sunny Morning


[August 2016]


Some say cities never sleep, but they certainly do wake up. Slowly and groggily at first, just like their citizens.


The last of the council workers of the night before overlap into the morning, where they meet the scouts of the daytime contingent; the early workers and long-distance commuters. Baristas and chefs, and young interns with suits on and sleep in their eyes. The suits get on trains; the others get on with their jobs. Terraces are hosed, tables wiped, coffee made. Huge pots go onto stoves, their contents ultimately bound for tables hours in the future. All in a stunted quiet, while most remain at home.


Slowly the sun creeps into the right-angle valleys. Shadows slide steadily down the buildings, making way for the windows to explode into brilliant glare. The streets begin to murmur more and more and the pace slowly builds. The first of the day’s traffic comes in buses. First one, then another, and then a load. The builders are out. Breakfasts, fried, are finished, tea drank, and cigarettes smoked, and with a bang and a crash the work is underway.

The schoolchildren follow in scuffed shoes and oversized blazers. They shout and they scream and they joke, all with a joy that they have not yet learned is not yet appropriate. They have yet to learn that the morning is a solemn, solitary time.


But in ever increasing numbers the workers try to show them. Those who work here are out now, as foggy as the scouts before them. Coffee in hand, headphones in ear they rush and they hustle against one another. With inner turmoil they drag themselves to their livelihood, while their lives urge them away.


Slowly the crescendo builds, winding itself ever tighter until the magic hour is reached; as the sun reaches the road it releases itself. The rush peaks, and for a short moment all is abuzz, all streets and pavements and stations full.


But then, just as quickly, it is past. Now the workers are in work, the pupils in school. The bass drops, and we return to the steady theme of the day. The city in the morning passes from a roar to a murmur. Thin, steady streams cross the square. Regular busses run the streets. The terraces are occupied, the tables full of coffee.


Moment by moment the morning drains away; as noon approaches it dies, and we arrive at just another day.