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Saturday, November 25th 2006


Nuns (again), jockstraps and St. Paul's (St. Paul's what??)

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I thought that it was about time that I made another entry in my blog. I meant to during August (and quite a few other times, too). However, I got distracted by the weather (hotter than the inside of a Bolivian unicyclist’s jockstrap), the antics of my next-door-neighbours (more later) and about forty episodes of CSI….


Actually, I was disappointed that no nuns came to visit. You understand that this is not a normal occurrence here – I just felt that it would have been an interesting diversion.


Well, at the Minster, we had a pretty successful Trinity term, with a few big services - including one for The Friends of The Minster, when my boss went off to attend a refresher course on Hessian underwear and the use of artichokes in contemporary worship. So I was left simultaneously playing and conducting from the console. Fortunately, it was largely well-known stuff – Stanford, in C and Rose Responses. Oh, and one of my anthems – which they sang really well – thank God, since everyone who was anyone was in the church that afternoon. Apart, that is, from my boss. I hope that the seminar was worthwhile.


Not much happened during the summer recess, really. I did some practice for my usual recital in the City of London (no, not the big place with the dome and the two-week reverberation period). It was OK – the church, being one of Wren’s finest creations (and the ‘model’ for the really big one, to boot) itself has a generous acoustic, which blurred the edges and saved about three hours’ rehearsal time.


Afterwards, as a treat (well it was my birthday on the Sunday), I walked a few hundred yards up the road to the big one itself – St. Paul’s. After spending about two minutes simply walking from one end to another, I ascended (well it sounds more grand than ‘climbed’) the many steps to the entrance portico, paid the £467.89 entry charge and had a good look around. I had forgotten what a really fine building it is. I climbed (as you know, I have already used ‘ascended’) up to the Whispering Gallery and listened in on a few conversations. It is amazing what one can learn up there. Did you know, for example, that a woman called Celia is shortly about to leave her husband (a quantity surveyor) for a bloke named Roberto who has a one-man juggling and fire-eating act in a pub in Stockwell on Friday evenings? No, I thought not.  Or, that when Ethel Slater (real names used – I care not one whit about her privacy) returned home from work last Tuesday night, she discovered that her husband had attempted some interior re-modelling and taken down a wall between the kitchen and the dining room. Shortly after this (and whilst the afore-mentioned husband had fortuitously stepped outside for a smoke), the house had decided to enter into the spirit of things and did some re-modelling of its own, whereupon the small back bedroom, formerly located above the kitchen, was now partly resident in the kitchen. Stupid sod.


Anyway, as engaging as all this was, time was advancing and so I pressed on to my goal (well, for that afternoon, at any rate), which was the lantern perched on top of the dome. Whilst on my way up (and while resting on a platform), I was overtaken by a woman with her adult daughter, who promptly succeeded in getting both of their backpacks stuck in a narrow opening between the walk-way and the inner skin of the dome. Ha-ha. Fortunately, the obstacle was soon overcome and we were all on our way up to the lantern (or is it a cupola?). At the next resting-place, I pondered briefly on what a really inconvenient place it would be for someone to have a heart attack (or, in fact, any other disabilitating medical emergency). Then, drawing fresh vigour, I climbed the last few steps and stepped out on to the enclosed walkway which encompasses the lantern.


Here, I was just in time to observe the woman who had got her backpack stuck a few minutes earlier almost kill a Japanese girl, by the simple expedient of pointing expansively at some landmark or other for the benefit of her daughter. It was only the timely intervention of a strong gust of wind, which prevented the girl being swept to a painful death on the recently-landscaped pavement of Paternoster Square. Stupid cow. (The pointing woman, not the Japanese girl.)


After a brief look at the fantastic views, I decided that I should head back downstairs. I do not have a problem with heights per se – but if the stupid woman was going to start knocking people off the top of St. Paul’s simply because she wanted to point out the Shell building to her daughter, then I felt that I would be safer out of her way.


At this point, I feel compelled to mention that St. Paul’s has quite a good refectory (unless one wished to purchase a sticky bun, which I did not). I know this, for it was my next port of call. I located the refectory in the crypt, adjacent to a rather good book and souvenir shop (did you know that they sell little inflatable statues of The Virgin Mary and chocolate effigies of Dr. Rowan Williams? No – neither did I).


Anyway, I digress. It was then time for me to make my way in the general direction of Beckenham to await the sumptuous feast which awaited me that night – and very nice it was, too.


The following day, I again travelled up to ‘town’ with a friend, who I usually stay with when I visit the great city. We attempted to have a look at the Kandinsky exhibition in the Tate Modern, but the next tickets were available at 17h30 and it was then only 14h30 – so we sensibly went to the pub. However, before leaving the Tate, I did manage to purchase a few gifts for some friends and I bought a mug for myself – which I presently cannot find.


The rest of the week-end passed on a blur of gardening, alcohol and good food.


It occurs to me that, near the beginning of this entry, I promised to furnish details of the escapades of my neighbours. Well, due to the length of this entry, that will have to come soon.


Watch this space….




Incidentally, the second emoticon is supposed to be a doughnut (please, no mention of Spotlight, Hugh Scully or Fanny Craddock). I was unable to locate a sticky bun - or a jockstrap.


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