Go Up a Level

SHAD BASIN

Monday 11th, 1pm

Shadwell Basin

If I were to give a description of a mass-movement of men and women, between noon and one o’clock in the week-days, which included the particulars of states of dress, direction, velocity, number, their beginning and end points, the circuit traversed and, most importantly, the location of this movement, I would do well to restrict myself to these particulars. However, inasmuch as I am a ne’er-do-well, that I make it my habit to make observations of this kind every weekday between noon and one o’clock, I cannot be expected to keep my description to the point, but am instead lead towards insignificant details and speculations as to the whys-and-wherefores of this incessant motion. Had I but the discipline of even one of the specimens I come to observe, I would refrain from letting my mind wander along routes inconclusive to my benefit; I would reject the stasis of my own body and join the flow of those in continual motion before me, would engage in conversation here and there, between pleasurable gasps of achievement. My legs too would pound away at such gnawing speculations as bring a man to this point of immobile observation, who dreams of the little entranceway through which these men and women pour, as though the building were just this little hole with nothing lying beyond it; no offices, no structures, no meetings, no management, no budgets - just so many constructions to conceal the purpose of the runners. But running is something which escapes me.

The Organisation of the runners may invite this unpleasant air of mystery, perhaps because they are unable to notice the world around them like us casual observers, and none so more than The Residents of these houses which line the running-route who provide, with walls, a convenient parameter against which the course of this running takes, for this running always happens alongside something, and never in open spaces. The Residents, like us, have observed the running, at first with idle curiosity, as involuntary spectators, even with some enjoyment -  but later increasingly as a disturbance, nuisance, objectionable. Their feelings, joined together like mortises, congealed and resolved to prevent their mass-motion; they have tried, and failed, to prevent it. A first, audacious effort saw a wall constructed here, over the mouth of the running-route leading to the houses, overnight, blocking the through-route to confuse the runners and drive them helpless into the water. Collectively they laboured and built during the small hours and, proud, they retreated behind windows to watch triumphantly. But no sooner had the runners arrived on the consecutive day than they swarmed around the wall and, acting in one motion, attacked it with their fists, pounding the wet mortar with their bloodied hands and nails, tearing it brick by brick until they succeeded in making a hole big enough for them to run through. The running continued, unabated. Two runners, seething with mad fury, ripped their own heads off. The flintlock rage of the runners displayed in this incident both discouraged all further direct action by the residents and sparked countless letters of complaint to The Organisation to which the runners belong. But communication with The Organisation is closed and cannot be opened by pleading voices demanding rights. As proof of this, greater numbers of runners were immediately deployed by The Organisation to arrest all further impulse to dissent.

The futility of communication with or resistance to the runners has led to most of the residential area being left tenantless and in a state of disrepair. Some tenants have attempted to join the ranks of the runners in secret, tagging-along with some of the smaller female groups in an effort to penetrate The Organisation unnoticed, but such deceptions are invariably violently disclosed and these individuals never return. One cannot run-with the runners. This activity has no participants and may not be joined. It is a wonder then how this activity can take place at all, this involuntary movement, but it still takes place, nonetheless.

Go Up a Level