Her phone was ringing again.
“150 years ago, Manchester’s GDP dared to rival London’s: Cottonopolis, industry, productivity, profit…”
The councillor continued, his eyes fixed on hers.
“This is what we’ve been waiting for, striving for, since the War: a proper crack of the whip…”
“The Northern Powerhouse is the opportunity to put this city and its people back on that pedestal, to elevate it to the kind of world class destination to which it rightfully aspires…”
Discreetly, she placed her hand over the screen and clicked the button with her thumb. The phone darkened. She slid her hand across the desk and slipped it into her bag.
“Shannon… Shannon?” Max’s voice brought her back into the room. “The Third Phase – Sleatford & Zheng?”
“Of course,” smiling nervously, she clicked on the presentation. Another screen illuminated. The room paid it due attention.
“I asked you to do this because you’re the only person who can, Shannon.”
Lazily hurdling the barriers, they ascended the steep incline of the defunct slip-road, their hi-vis vests luminous against the grey.
In her jacket pocket she could feel the phone’s vibrations, massaging her conscience, long distance voodoo.
“You need to get that?”
They strode out across the empty lanes and up onto the highest point of the Mancunian Way.
“The Third Phase. If it’s a Powerhouse they want then this will be the central reactor, Shannon. Obviously impossible without the Chinese but we get this wrong, delays… everything changes. Throw in a change at the top, an election and that’s it, the whole deal’s dead – that’ll be the studios, the main complex will be east of that block – I’m saying this really is a one-shot opportunity, that’s why Sir Nicholas was spouting off like he did…”
He turned to face her only to discover that her gaze was away towards the Peaks on the horizon, beyond the remnants yet to be demolished.
“It’s an opportunity to build a new city, Shannon. They asked me, I’m begging you. You’re the only person who can do this. I can’t – we can’t deliver this contract without you. In fact, I wouldn’t even try.”
“No pressure then. How could I refuse?”
Without looking at him, she turned away from the barrier and started her descent towards another slip-road, Kevin Calling in her pocket, Gethyn howling her praises into the wind behind her, already starting to make the calls as he watched the ground around her feet crack, black and swallow her entirely.
Dir. Jean-Luc Goddard (1963)
Tony Wilson Place
January 9th 2016