The city is never deserted. There are always cars coming or going, people weaving their way down cobblestones towards the Quayside or battling, heads down, to make it to the heart of the city. It is a relief to come out into the fresh air and find the city isn’t cloaked in darkness as it has been at the end of my shifts for months now. Instead, the golden light of dusk has worked its way along the cobblestones, back alleys and the layered buildings old and new. Pulling my coat closer, tipping back my head to take in the sky in all of its colours, I wonder how the city can suddenly feel so still and quiet. Other city workers are heading for the commute, those lucky enough to have finished earlier are now tottering on high heels to the Bigg Market or to cocktail bars near the train station and restaurants near the theatre.
Yet, there is quiet. A hush.
The city taking a long breath between day and night.
Church bells peal. The sound moving in great waves so that the air seems to vibrate. A momentary call to pause, reflect, stop, think. Like a Geordie call to prayer. No one can help but glance at the cathedral tower as the noise is so loud it seems like the building will be turned to rubble with the force of the music pummeling its ancient walls.
I am waiting for a green man, hesitating on the edge of the road, not trusting the break in the traffic. Hand clasped around my phone, bag heavy on my shoulders after a day spent battling at work. I was contemplating tea, but now I looking at those old walls and imagine how many times those bells have chimed. Someone approaches behind me, trainers scuffing quickly against the pavement as they land just behind me, struggling to stop after their quick descent down the uneven bank towards the Swing Bridge. They bump into my shoulder with a huff, their head snapping from side to side as they take in the break in the traffic.
“What ya waiting for?” A grumbling voice, hoarse with the day, a line of stubble along his chin and thin eyes that dart ever more quickly before his step takes him into the middle of the road.
A car swerves around the corner and his feet pick up pace, like a court jester dancing a jig on the kings table. I look past the cathedral with the chiming bells towards Castle Keep. Beyond was water and bridges and bars and glass buildings made in the past decade or two. He keeps moving, feet almost but not quite tripping over as he bounds down the bank past cathedral, night club and castle keep of the 12th century.
As the red man disappears and his mate Green glows below, I wonder at what point in the last nine centuries, the Geordie dialect emerged.
Images of Newcastle Castle Keep, taken 06/04/2017