Saturday, 9 June 2012

Jubilee Monday in Canterbury


Canterbury Cathedral, which I remember well from my last visit, at the age of nine, is sublimely beautiful. Unlike so many cathedrals it is a medieval building not a concoction of Sir George Scott. One hour for the outside including the cloisters with their wonderful bosses and one hour for the interior were not nearly enough but all we had time for (I made us late by an hour by oversleeping). The best thing was the mediaeval glass - several windows of it. And so much else.The tombs of the Black Prince and King Henry IV (Part II). I hate Henry VIII for destroying Becket's tomb and suppose he did it as political rather than a theological gesture.. I cannot wait to go back.

I dreaded the feeling I would have on meeting my godson/nephew who is a first year undergraduate at Kent university but it was easy. I no longer get vertigo at being reminded that I am no longer in my 20s.

I wish to record that I saw 333 ml of beer - a barbaric measure which is three quarters of a pint - on sale for seven pounds. The manager of the restaurant insisted on explaining at some length when i queried the price that it was because of the strength of the beer and that it was still cheaper than wine, or some rot. He said the government taxes beer according to its alcoholic content, i.e. drunk-making properties, these days.

The beer was not at a pricey restaurant - I spent £8.70 on a glass of house wine later that night - in fact bought two - in Belgravia, but still..

Odd things about England - well not odd so much as deeply disturbing signs of the all-powerful state:

Bottles of wine in Marks & Spencer have labels warning you to drink in moderation. I mean, what?

You are constantly reminded that smoking is illegal in airports.

Armed police patrol.

On the train going through the Elizabethan Kentish countryside you are continually told: 'in the interests of your safety and security CCTV is in operation on this train.'

I took the slow train back to London and reassured myself that my favourite wine bar, Gordon's, is still in existence. It was crowded but playing music and loudly. Oh dear. Back to Belgravia which is adorned with Union flags but deserted and i cannot even get more than an (astronomically expensive) bar snack to eat. But taking a stroll before bed, I and a bunch of happy people leaving a pub caught the firework display at the Palace from a mews. 

Like the Gulf Wars and the Romanian Revolution, the Diamond Jubilee took place on television and so even though I attended it in the rain I feel I wasn't really there.

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