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Travelogue I15

July 20, 2016

Though long, the day lacked for a real program. After conferring for a few short minutes, we decided on a jaunt through the city-center, as well as a lunch place which seemed somewhat farther afield, from G.’s explanations. So we collected what things we had immediate need of and stepped out the back door to come around through the tunnel dividing his house from that next to it.

The attentive reader will have noticed the terms “back door” and “tunnel” and perhaps find herself at a loss as to why we should have set off through the back rather than the front and by way of a tunnel no less. This question had come to dominate my own thoughts as well, as soon as our entry into the house, and I indulged myself by asking G.. Ever the good sport, my companion proceeded to explain that, as the house’s front door gave immediately onto the living room with no entryway, the city’s residents had long since made a habit of entering through the back door.

He finished his explanation by noting that, given the abutting design of rowhouses, entering the home thus required first passing through the tunnel running between houses and then making one’s way through the garden to the back door. Not all houses came with their own tunnel, and so a given passage provided access between garden and street for those nearest homes clustered to either side. On the way out to the street and upon turning back towards the passage, I noted that someone had thought to fit the tunnel out with a door at either end. Yet, during my short stay in Sheffield, the tunnel doors never closed.

Although the open doors allowed patches of light to splash either end of the tunnel floor, the middle stretch remained swathed in shadow. So thick were the shadows that any person standing there became a mere silhouette, as seen in the photograph I took of G. stopped midway through. His figure, backlit and hulking in the low passage, conveyed a certain element of dread, which made me remark that one might more properly dub the passage a “murder tunnel”, an observation in which, so I like to imagine, my companion took some small delight.

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