The madness I feel is neither wild nor remote but intense and sickeningly particular. Particular yet not singular – therein lies the specific swoon and stench of this malady. Where once, in a distant and undoubtedly idealised past, certain borders could be reinforced as barriers against contamination, against trespass, now such lines of defence are dissolved, redundant, the outside does not know where the inside begins. In what now seems like a former life, I saw this city as salvation… now, as I clamber up the banks of the Irwell, I see the graphene turrets of the skyline as the battlements of my prison periphery.
Once we were chained, shackled to the timbers of our masters. Then, we emerged into society restrained by whalebone and laces, shortening breath, struggling to be heard. Now, as I stand on the Quays overlooking the sterile, redundant waterways of the North Bay, there are no merchant ships; in fact I see nothing but the angular shadow of the theatre and as I draw to the very edge, I see my own reflection shiver in the ripples. I am free to move anywhere within this Republic of Manchester, with its sculptures of anchors and its statue of Lincoln, yet I am bound in gossamer chains of spider silk, confined, as are we all, to the pathways of the web, unwittingly transmitting our signals with every breath, be it shallow or deep, my biometric profile constantly uploading to the remote host, calibrating my value, creating and closing my options, caching my history, calculating my future… shimmering in the ripples of North Bay.
A novel by David Chadwick
Aurora Metro Books