IT WAS A cry of many voices. It sounded like anger, or lament. It was past eleven o’clock on the night of November 28, 2007 and I was in my study, tucked into the roof of my house, preparing to close down my computer and my mind. I looked out of the window. The noise had come from down the hill. It had been a hot day – more than thirty degrees – and night had fallen like a warm sheet. The golden arches of the McDonald’s had only just been switched off, but the public housing flats still seemed to glow in the heat left by the western sun. Bright lights are mounted above these blocks and the white squares of windows in concrete walls make wakefulness a public thing, visible across the suburb. As I prepared for bed, it was clear that people were still up, trying to rid their flats of heat. Over there, night never really arrives. Nothing happens that is not illuminated.
Then the wail of many voices stopped, replaced by a single voice shouting. Then that stopped too. It was possible to believe – and, sleepy as I was, I did choose to believe this – that what I had heard were sounds made by friends leaving one of the fast food restaurants on Racecourse Road, or the normal noisy acts of self-assertion of the crowd from our award-winning Irish-themed pub – ironically called The Quiet Man.
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