“One would have thought that carrying a parcel from Scarrit Place to The Plaza of Sands would be a simple task - a quick trip down Festival street, through a half a dozen little cutways, across the bridge, under the shadow of The Shaft and out in to the wide expanse of the Plaza itself.
This is where a rookie can get themselves in to a heap of trouble. The bridge is closed to southbound traffic in the Night City, see, after the lamp-lighting ceremony, so anybody travelling that way would need to go up on to the Overhatch and down the Spiral - which is 265 steps, if you're interested to know. I should know. I've run them nearly every day of my life.
Then there's the problem with the parcel. Scarrit is closed to the public during the Day City on alternate weekends, unless you have a Permit for Necessary Delivery, which you can collect from The Shaft directly following the Lamp-lighting - because that's when all the Senior Bureaucrats will be in one place. So you'll need careful planning, particularly with time-sensitive deliveries. Or you need to be ready to pay the officials at Scarrit Place to leave it in the safe-deposit box for you - and they can only officially accept payment during the Night City without it being seen as a bribe.
The really tricky part is that, 12 months ago, the procedure was designed by an entirely different Year Audit Head, so it's likely to all flip upside-down anyway, as soon as Audit day comes around…”
- Kensington Prewitt, Message-Runner.
The City of Anchor never sleeps. The lamp-lighting traditions of Shackle have become a clear cultural difference in day and night here in the capital. Though they are the same place, just at different times, the shift has become so distinct, that they are now called the Day City and the Night City. The changeover happens at the hour of seven, each evening and morning; and is normally announced by bells or gongs; and by the lamp-lighting ceremony.
The Day City is formal, ordered and the cues and traditions place emphasis on what you can see. There is more written communication, fan codes for courting couples, larger personal spaces and limited physical contact in public. Everything is more subtle and nuanced.
The Night City is more tactile and informal, but no less mannered - this isn't a breakdown of society, but everything becomes more intimate, with smaller personal spaces, greetings that are more physical (e.g. hugging on greeting, extended handshakes etc). Courting is more open too - after all, fan codes are hard to see.
All good Citizens are expected to carry a lamp in the Night City.
The origins of the Day and Night Cities can be traced back to early days on Shackle with the first locust swarms, where houses were barricaded and people huddled together in the residences of nobles, banding together for mutual protection and telling stories to keep fear at bay. With the arrival of the weatherlights it became necessary to light torches and lanterns at dusk to attract them, in case the locusts also arrived - which, over time, became the lamp-lighting ceremony. The repetition of these simple rituals daily, the habits of banding closer together in the darkness and the night-time relief that no attack would be imminent gradually developed into strong delineations between daytime and night-time behaviours and cultures. These carried over to Anchor once it was discovered, partly to keep the traditions alive, partly through the influence of the Church and partly as a way for the Nobility to maintain their power structures, by reminding the populace that they once relied exclusively on their protection.
Image: Tom Garnett.
In the Day City, there is an order to everything, including food. Here, what food looks like matters as much as its taste. The food is often served in compartmentalised boxes or plates, with each food that makes up the meal having its own place in the box or on the plate. Sauces and condiments have their own containers and are only added to the food after it is served, each person adding to suit their own tastes. Food is often cut into geometric shapes, ideally sized to be eaten with chopsticks, and especially at important meals, or among the wealthy, the arrangement of the food is considered an art in itself. Food is eaten carefully, with utensils, usually chopsticks. Even simple meals, or meals packed for those who must eat away from home, conform to this aesthetic, with sectioned boxes used to store the food. Families, workmates and friends gather and eat at tables where they can, and time is considered important to savour the food. Drinks are served in small glasses or cups, poured from jugs (or bottles if travelling). Teas and infusions are popular, brewed in separate pots and poured through strainers if required.
Real world influences: Japanese bento boxes, Spanish Tapas, British Afternoon tea.
In the Night City, light is at a premium. There is something about that preciousness that has driven the culture of the Night City to paradoxically emphasise the other senses. Food and drink are experienced not by how they look and taste, but by how they sound and feel. Bustling stalls sell sizzling fried foods and crunchy snacks. This is food on sticks and food you tear. Noodles are slurped from their broths and stews mix strong flavours. This is when food is unpredictable and exciting, when sweet mixes with sour, when salt mixes with sweet. Food is eaten on the move or in gatherings where the seating isn't arranged and people move to collect it. Whether eating out on the streets from the many vendors or cooking for friends and family this is informal and adaptable. But don't confuse the informality with lack of manners, there are still rules and expectations. Drinks are served in whatever vessels they come in, or all shapes and sizes. It's what the drink is that matters, not what it comes in; fermented drinks, for the fizz, and smooth silky drinks are popular.
Real world influences: Asian and Middle Eastern night markets, harbour-side stalls, Georgian London, German Christmas Markets, fairgrounds.
The nuances of the differences between the Day and Night Cities on Anchor can be one of the most confusing aspects of the Audit for islander visitors. Whilst traditions on other islands are similar, there are enough differences to trap the unwary :