P.S.O Jules Stewart
Everton Heights lives up to its reputation. Parties are obviously still in full flow on two of the middle floors, lights flashing and figures dancing, even now at mid day.
I take the elevator to Strata twenty-five. Up here all is quiet. The walkway curves languidly, cool concrete and warm wood. Ahead a door opens up. A man of about thirty is thrown out, sprawling in front of me, followed by his shoes and a jacket. The kind of jacket it's worth taking care of. He snatches it up and the shoes, stumbles and pushes past me. As I approach a light flashes over the door of cube 1,357 and the door slides open, waiting for me.
The space has that abandoned atmosphere, still air that nobody’s disturbed, silent, full of secrets to be deciphered. Secrets scattered all over the place. Shoes kicked off at the entrance, bags dropped in front of the doorway and jackets slumped on the floor never having made it to the empty set of pegs on the wall. It could have been ransacked but I’m guessing that this is fairly typical for Estelle.
Light is streaming through a window in the back wall. I pick my way, stepping over the debris. I lean on the sill, down far below flows the Mersey, the grey surface, like crumpled foil. Tankers, smudges of colour from this distance, Crimean red, Shanghai yellow, Stockholm blue, sit on the water, waiting to dock in the Super Port. Dorace could watch out of a window like this all day and the light it lets in, she'd love this light.
I step through to the shower room, 50 gallons a day, a space large enough for a chair as well as the facilities. An old wicker chair arm is just visible under a heap of clothes. Upcycled from street level I guess. A shelf on the wall is crammed with Perfume injections, the slow release type, synthetic scents, musk, sandalwood, jasmine. Skin dyes, hair extensions in shades of lilac, incisor gems, eye jewellery, a beaded collar with neck sensor, shade changing.
In the main room a frame on the wall is scrolling a cycle of images. Estelle Fischer, dark shoulder length hair, blue eyes, pale complexion, a large mouth with scarlet lips, smiling on a terrace, glass in hand. Somewhere green sat on a rug, smiling, glass in hand, in a crowded room everyone dancing, Estelle smiling, waving her arms in the air. Estelle with another young woman with purple hair, toasting each other here in this cube, and another together on the Mersey barrage, faces squashed cheek-to-cheek, hair windswept. The network tags her, Loretta Parkes, also resident of Everton Heights, Strata 5. That's a lot of levels between two friends. A new set of images plays through the frame. A young woman, a severe expression on her face, walking down a road at street level with a young girl of about seven. Crouched down next to the child the woman has her hand raised towards the camera, the child looks surprised, behind them an old semi- detached house surrounded by a garden is visible. Jet Wong has hardly aged at all and this must have been taken nearly twenty years ago.
On a fold up table, made of a compressed recycled wood product, is a mound of junk: a pink pleather sack open at the neck spilling out a tangle of belts, all shades, a basket woven from ancient electrical cables, the kind of thing sold by ground level hawkers. Under the table boots and shoes, all with high stalks, like the ones strewn around the floor, spill out from a basket. Estelle was not a girl for flatties.
The images of Estelle have cycled through the frame and now it’s a selection of odd pictures, the door of a house at ground level, a dirty street sign, weatherworn, an overgrown garden, a glasshouse with jagged broken windows, a plastic bag blowing, snagged on barbed wire. Where did she get these images from and why put them in the frame?
Suddenly hit by a wave of fatigue I sit on the only chair, a novelty item, red plastic, shaped like lips. The corner of something, like paper, is poking out from under the basket of footwear. I go forward onto my knees and pull out a bundle of scraps of torn map, an old paper map, Aigburth, Sefton Park, Dingle. What would Estelle be doing with these? Would she even understand a map? Does anyone these days?
These don’t tally at all with the Estelle I’ve seen and heard about so far. Although in the few memories of Estelle that the tech team have managed to salvage we can see an interest in street level - quite unhealthy - sympathetic, nostalgic.
Perhaps Dorace can help make sense of these maps, she's the only person I know who might. Besides I really owe her a visit.