One way or another today has included a lot of death. I spent much of it in Guildford, the town where I was born, and where I lived throughout my teenage years.
Looking down the High Street to The Mount
The main purpose of my visit was to see the dentist for my six month check up (all good). I was early and looked at my ‘phone. There was a message that made me gasp, notification of the death of Ernie, a really lovely man I used to see often during the course of my work. I made a note of the funeral arrangements in my diary. His partner Paul must be devastated. They were together for nearly sixty years. Throughout my appointment I was remembering his kindness, the way he used to call me Mate.
As I was leaving the dental practice an elderly gentlemen was making a follow up appointment. When I heard his name my ears pricked up and I turned to look at him. It was an unusual name and one I recognised, though I did not recognise the man. He was our family GP for some years. More grist to the memories mill.
Then it was a trip to the museum, a place where I spent some time almost every Saturday until I was around twelve. I walked there via the Castle Grounds where I used to walk my grandparents’ dog. I’m sure some of my DNA has entered the soil there.
The Castle Keep
Just in case you got the impression from my last post that everyone in Coventry is on a higher celestial plane than the rest of us, this one may correct that idea.
One of Coventry’s most famous sons is the poet Philip Larkin. Hull, which has just ended its year as UK City of Culture claims Larkin too as he worked there for many years and by all accounts loved the place. But Coventry is not going to let Hull steal all the glory. Indeed no. The poet is honoured with a building named after him.
My guidebook was a bit sniffy about Reims. It praised the cathedral, but described the town as dull. In the event, although I found the cathedral impressive, indeed beautiful, it would not be the reason I would return to the town, and I am not sure I would visit it again.
There are parallels with Westminster Abbey in London. Both are gothic, both the churches of coronation, though in the case of Notre Dame de Reims, it are obviously not expecting to gear up for another such occasion any time soon. In fact it didn’t feel that they would be gearing up for any religious occasion at all. I saw no sign that the church is used for its original purpose; no details about services, no busy clerics rushing by. Continue reading