I’m continuing with my story which I wrote several years ago. The story is of Livia who on a visit to her old college town of Strand sees that her college, the College of Commerce and Industry was being redeveloped as apartments. It makes her think back to when she was a student there in the 80’s and 90’s and a friend she had, Arman. I’ve shared the first two parts over the last couple of days, and here is a link to part 2 if didn’t read it yesterday:
Livia had never realised that there was student accommodation on the top floors of Colcomin, she laughed when Arman told her – really? she said, good heavens, she never knew. He had laughed and repeated his invitation. There was a sudden silence between them as they just looked at each other, and then Livia said, yes, she would like to visit and take a cup of Kurdish tea.
They left the library where they had been studying, revising for their exams and took the lift up to the twentieth floor. Livia had gazed at the panel with the floors on it so often, and stared blankly at the information, caretakers and janitors, common room refectory social areas, administration and finance, student union office accommodation and welfare, library and staff, humanities, commerce, technology, study and work, business, student accommodation… She had somehow thought those top floors were some sort of administrative area – if she had ever thought about it.
They stepped out of the lift, and unlike the corridors on the lower floors, there were windows at either end so they were lighter and brighter. Arman told her she should see it at night when the city was lit up. He lead through the intersecting corridors and reached his flat, 2020. It was the sort of accommodation she had expected, small and compact, a tiny bathroom leading off the tiny entrance hall on one side, a cupboard for coats and storage on the other. The main room, for living, cooking and eating was not huge, but what transformed it was the huge window, and Livia couldn’t help but be drawn to it and stood looking out across the city and across the sea.
It was a brilliantly sunny day and the light glistened off the blue, and she could clearly make out Farholm Island, the lighthouse at one end, the guano encrusted cliffs beneath it. It was breath taking, extraordinary, what a room, what a view!
“I feel as if I can see forever,” Arman said, standing beside her. “And I would like to be here forever,” he added, but it was only much later that Livia remembered his words and understood them for what he had privately meant.
His room was not like most student rooms, it was neat, it was tidy and he seemed to have few possessions apart from books and different sets of small glasses and ornate cups and what she realised must be teapots, Kurdish teapots. The floor had several rugs over the all-purpose grey cord carpet, and beautiful textiles over the two easy chairs. There was a small table and two chairs, but little else.
“We’re not allowed to put pictures on the walls,” he told her. “It might damage the paint.”
Many people would have ignored this stricture, he didn’t and Livia realised that all along the skirting board there were pictures propped up. She knelt down and looked at them, shuffling along as Arman went to the small kitchen area and filled the kettle. Many of the pictures were of Kurdistan, she guessed, Many of the pictures were photos, of Dukan and Lake Dukan, Arman told her, where his family lived.
The tea was made and they sat with a small ornately carved, circular wooden table between them. They drank black, sweet tea, and Livia had rather too many paklawa, sweetened with Kurdish honey. They talked, they talked of everything, until Livia had to go, and Arman came with her to the lift, and came down with her to the social area which led to the foyer.
He kissed her gently on the cheek. “Shall we meet in Burt’s for breakfast tomorrow, Livia?” he asked.
“I would like that, Arman,” she replied.
Part four, the last part, tomorrow!
There is no such city as Strand, there was never the Strand College of Commerce and Industry. My featured image shows what used to be the College of Commerce, which used to be part of Manchester Polytechnic.