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What waking up to isolating London sounds like

image of another building taken from a window of building opposite
image of another building taken from a window of building opposite
Image credit: Lara Geary
Written by
Post-Grad Community
Published date
23 March 2020

Written by Lara Geary - MA Sound Arts, London College of Communication, whilst self distancing to stop the spread of Coronavirus.

I am an artist working with sound, writing, drawing and emerging technologies. I graduated in MA Fine Art from Central Saint Martins in 2019 and am now currently studying for an MA in Sound Arts at London College of Communication.

I'm currently taking time-out from my course.  In December last year, I had an accident, which I am continuing to recover from at home. I recently have been slowly getting back to art and have found writing to be particularly helpful and reflective. I, like many artists, welcome isolation. But I have to say this situation, which we all face, is quite different. I live with my partner in London who fortunately can work home.

This piece of writing came to me on Friday morning as I lay in bed, wide awake, I picked up my iPad and wrote my thoughts. I think there will be more of these sound pieces as I attune to the surroundings and the soundscape. I have spent months looking at this view, it hasn't changed very much in that time, until late last week; leaves began to appear. As I look at it now I am acutely aware of the monumental changes that are happening everywhere and the sounds; absent and present are the most profound marker of this time.

image of another building taken from a window of building opposite
Image credit: Lara Geary
What waking up to isolating London sounds like

Friday 20 March 2020 a stream of consciousness

It is 6.36am, I awoke two hours before to an eerily silent London neighborhood. Now the silence is gently punctuated by a lone bird song, their absence I feel strongly. They greet each day without fail and today like so many birds and people they seem to be having a lie-in.

It’s 6.40am and so far in these minutes since I began to write four aircraft have aggressively sliced through the silence. For days their absence has scaled in noticeability, far less a loss than that of bird song, but equally worrying. Conspicuous by their absence, inevitability rises; soon we will be in total lock down. The necessity of such action also rises in me.

It is 6.44am, my child neighbour is awake; a scream. Awakened, his parents now talk with him; I imagine what plans are made to occupy little people like him as they wake to this new way of being? There have been no more planes or helicopters above, the birds too are quiet; too quiet, where are they I wonder.

At 6.47am, now, gentle chirps are detectable

6.48am a chorus is rising.

I cannot contemplate sleep.

6.49am, another plane chugs through the sky, a car horn blares, absent still the usual morning bustle.

No creaking floorboards from above as morning work preparations ensue, no engine sounds, no feet to the ground, no running water; of shower, bath or flush. Stillness is rife. I contemplate my day.

6.52am, a motorbike loud and brash churns my immediate world lingering through to 6.53. My day often begins filled with worrying doubtful thoughts, not so different a start for me. Except for the sense that today’s stillness is not of peace with the potential of space to breathe and relax but is an enormous pause as the world awakes to worry and doubt.

I find at 6.56am a thought pushing against my doubt that fills my energy; fearful but hopeful, that it will be ok.

6.57am traffic builds, gentle deep sleeping breathings lays aside me, I listen to her sound of sleep and hope she is resting well.

Now at 6.59am crows converse. Regularly at this time, I anticipate the sound of an alarm to awaken my girlfriend, but it like so much will be delayed; no travel time needed for her to get to work these days. Usually at this time birdsong reigns.

I wonder if I should try to sleep, now 7.02am, a train signals it’s arrival. Their passage through always too distant to hear. Unlike the giggles and chat of my little neighbour who continues to awaken his parents. No shouting today, they are calmer with him, this is nice, I am happy for him.

Now 7.05am he sings. The birds do not. Time today sounds very different as everything appears at a different pace.

Follow Lara's writing here

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