An Extract: The Foghorn’s Lament – Jennifer Lucy Allan
Its abrupt and terrific interjection comes from a square black mouth, a colossal metallic holler that is stupefyingly loud. It floods my ears and shakes my guts. I am overwhelmed. I freeze. Tiny hairs rise on my covered arms. Its moaning blast ends in a gruff grunt that jolts me from my stupor. One eternal second of absolute and total silence follows, and the crowd around me erupts in the type of giddy laughter reserved for moments of awe. It is true aural obliteration.
In June of 2013 I drove from London to the North East with friends, to see Foghorn Requiem, a vast open-air performance that assembled three brass bands with a total of sixty-five players, on the cliffs at Souter Point lighthouse in South Shields. They were joined by a motley flotilla of over fifty ships out in the North Sea that included a ferry and fishing boats, sailboats and lifeboats, ketches, yachts and tugs. At its centre was the almighty Souter Point foghorn, that sounded from the middle of the crowd over the heads of the brass players and out to the ships on the horizon, a voice of compressed air from hulking diesel engine lungs. +
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