My gran is lucky. From her flat I can see over the roofs of the other blocks. They’re packed so close that any lower you can’t view anything but buildings. Now I can see the green and yellow chequered biocrops running up Dundry Hill. Patches of the other farm at Ashton Court peep through the high-rises to my right. Not as far right, the blue-grey of Bedminster Lagoon means the tide is in.
On the buildings gulls ack-ack-ack ready for breeding. To my left a flock of city centre pigeons bursts above the roofscape. Into yellow-grey.
Gran is double lucky. She has a balcony. I crane over the handrail and thirty storeys below, the New Cut bustles with ferries and commuter boats. She remembers when that was tidal.
Mind you, she remembers when Gordano Bay became the first local biofuel farm. Now, that and Pill-on-Sea are as far as our vacation allowance will stretch. When we go there on holiday, I try to imagine what it used to look like. I try to imagine cows and horses. They were there before the crops, before the sea, my gran says.
It’s quiet up here too. The usual westerly blows over the city sounds – far away traffic, horns, feelgood music. It’s quiet enough to hear something odd – a thin rattling, and squeaks. The noise sounds faraway but I’m sure it’s near and tiny. I look all around but can’t locate it.
Today the salt-laden westerly is biting and bitter. That’s the third time this month. Gran says it got like that back when Mum was born, back when the snow lay year round. Back when Bristol had two football clubs.
People had to cram southwards then, just like they’re still cramming north from the deserts. Gran says she ought to have followed Gramps to New Zealand.
Too late now. They’re only letting rocket scientists in. That’s what I want to be, sending von Neumann probes to the stars – Cygnus, Lyra, Scorpio.
There’s that rattling, trilling noise again. Still distant, or still small. I have heard it before. I rack my brains.
It was from when I was a kid. I get an image of a pet store, that last one in Cabot Circus, when we could shop there. We don’t have the citizen credits any more.
No, the Zoo. That was it. Our education unit went there before it became the power station. Handy for the fast-grow crops on the Downs, that is. At least, that’s what they say. I don’t know much about it. Mum took us kids to the protests. I suppose some of the talk must have sunk in.
A flash of bright blue zips past and clings to the wall of the next door flat. I lean over for a better view. It squeaks and trills – yeah, that’s my noise. A bird. A small bird. I can’t believe a bird can be that small. It’s way tinier than a pigeon.
But I also can believe it. I saw little birds at the Zoo. Yes, it was definitely the Zoo. All those noises. And this one.
The bird calls again.
The top of its head is blue. It must have flown close. It flits again and is gone.
I pull out my Tab and start to Google what I’ve seen and heard. How do I describe it?
Hey! A popup tells me Aurora has Booked me. I switch to SocialFace; I gotta see what she’s written on my Wall first…