20th May


You always took the lift because the stairs weren’t safe. The only thing about the lift was not to get in if somebody was already in it. When the doors opened, you only got in if it was empty. Once you were in you were safe, unless it stopped for someone else on another floor. If that happened you had to get out. Before they got in. Then, after the doors closed, you pressed the button and waited for it to come back. You were on a floor you didn’t know, which wasn’t good but it was better than being in the lift with a stranger. You had to stay calm. You had to wait.

If the lift broke down, you had to not panic. There was an emergency phone. You would use the phone and then wait. Nobody else could get in while the lift was broken. An engineer would talk to you on the phone. You didn’t see him, he didn’t get in the lift with you, but he could fix it. He’d get the lift working again. He had to.

Because the stairs weren’t safe. If you met anybody on the stairs you had to not trust them. The stairs smelled of piss and the concrete was hard. Anybody you met on the stairs could be a junkie, a thief, a killer, or all three.

If you were going down and they were coming up you were in trouble. If you were below them you had a chance of reaching the street before they got you.

So. You didn’t get in the lift with anybody else. You didn’t use the stairs unless you absolutely had to. You always checked your exit routes.

The exit on the ground floor led out to the street. The street was safer than the stairs, but not much. You had to get back in again, as quickly as you could.

You had food delivered these days. You put the safety chain on the door and paid the man or signed the chit and after he’d gone you unhooked the chain and took in the food.

It was safer that way. There was less chance of getting hurt.

Reader: Kirstin McLean
Fiddle: Aidan O'Rourke
Piano: Kit Downes
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