29 October, 2007

Manchester: where I fear for my life!

Yet another visit to Manchester. I had to go there for a conference but didn't have much time for pleasure while there.

If you're familiar with the band 'The Hidden Cameras', you'll be aware of the lyrics to High on the Church Grounds http://www.thehiddencameras.com/lyrics/L-high.jpg. Certainly the cathedral grounds are being described well by this. The actual cathedral has some nice modern stained glass but photographs are not permitted except with written permission of the dean and chapter and any photographs taken remain their property. I'm not sure they can do that - if the photos were not their property in the first place how can they remain their property?

Back to the cathedral grounds, debauched students and others congregate to deal drugs (although maybe not the other thing) in broad daylight. Even allowing for the fact that they are possibly music students from the nearby Cheethams School of Music, they tend to look excessively debauched, looking at my pictures of student days I'm not sure that the students of my generation were as debauched. Fewer seem to be smoking or have the malnourished look that only excessive drinking can promote. They were smoking and drinking like it was going out of fashion: if anything here ever had been in fashion that is.

I suppose London is just as bad but at least the drug dealing in London is well out of sight.

It's one of the few places where I haven't felt safe.

The picture shows the Manchester Daily Express Building in Gt Ancoats Street

21 October, 2007


The volunteer steward of the museum was bored to death, so when I went in to the museum she thought I must be there for some ulterior motive than to look round. I seriously wonder how many museum visitors are 40 year old (but look younger) males. There are probably government stats somewhere and I just can't be bothered to look for them. Still, it made a change from cat sitting. Nice as Fluffy is, his conversation leaves a lot to be desired.

So I went to Ware, a place I visited on my New River path but only briefly. Ware is a town that once was a coaching stage and its main claim to fame is the gazebos overlooking the river. There are about six or seven of these and they are the remnants of coaching inns. These gazebos were provided for customers to have tea in, away from the bars.

The church is large and partially covered in scaffolding. A wedding was in progress when I called so could not legitimately go in, and by the time the wedding had finished the church was locked up again. I heard eight bells ringing from the steeple. The priory is now a conference centre and its grounds make up a public riverside park. A wedding fayre was in progress. I wonder what the market would be for a non marriage wedding? So many people (girls mostly) want a wedding - the church ceremony, the posh frock, probably white, the enormous party, the cake (I'd just want the cake) and to have this without the inconvenience of getting lumbered with an underwhelming male companion. Perhaps I should explore the market? The non marriage wedding. Now there's a thought!

This picture shows the former bluecoat school, now a public hall.

Ware suffers from the provincial disease: people only are hungry between 1200 and 1430. I have written against this elswhere on the blog but Ware seemed particularly inhospitable on this point. I did not want a kebab, I did not want a pizza but these were the only two options at three o'clock. I have also written about local shops for local people. Will strangers come? No they blooming well won't if they're all as bad as the ones in Ware. Alexi Sayle has always said 'Local' is another word for 'crap'! And it's true. No local shop could sell me a pie, so I went to Tescos for a pie and a bottle of (posh) lemonade. If you're going there, beware.

04 October, 2007

The Chapel Royal, St James Palace.

The Chapel Royal is actually not a place but the college of chaplains, officers and choristers who serve the Royal Household.

I was privileged to go yesterday to the installation of the new Sub-Dean of the Chapel Royal, by the Dean, at the chapel in St James's Palace. The Dean is the Bishop of London The Rt Rev'd and Rt Hon Richard Chartres DD. The Sub Dean also takes the office of sub almoner and Clerk of the Closet which are offices relating to charitable and personal work for the sovereign, and both the offices are held by bishops i.e almoner and keeper of the closet.

The Bishop preached on thankfulness and stated that being Christian always means we have someone to thank for the new day. He's obviously been reading his Chesterton, or perhaps doing a York Course. The new Sub Dean replied that he always tried to love his congregation. With my personal knowledge he will excel in that. There could really be no better person for the job, although of course he will never admit it.

Music for the service by Byrd with an introit by the current composer to the chapel. We had some good hymns mostly relating to love which the congregation and choir sang in a very uplifting manner.

After the installation there was a reception in the palace for the guests. Truly memorable.