Friday, 18 October 2013

Early notes

On the train from London down to Cornwall - Simon Sebag Montefiore's Jerusalem in hand. A decomissioned copy from the Oxford and Cambridge Club library, very kindly given to me by the librarian (two copies were bought originally when it was the book of the moment due to the TV series....)

I had a fear that this book might be 'of the moment' rather than an essential read: was recently disappointed by Natasha's Dance by Orlando Figes).

But there are handy facts within.
Cannot ever imagine reading from start to finish - so many names, so much barbarity.

But today - as the woman on the train in the seat opposite sews buttons on to a cushion opposite while chatting to her husband ...

- the American Colony. (Have heard often over the years of the American Colony Hotel). What was the American Colony? It was founded by the Spaffords.

Anna Spafford was travelling across the Atlantic with her four daughters on the Ville de Havre when it was struck by another ship. All four daughters drowned.

She sent the news by telegram to her husband Horatio, a lawyer in Chicago:

What they did: they abandoned their lives in the States and went to Jerusalem where they founded the American Colony just inside the Damascus Gate. They prepared daily for the Second Coming.

They made friends with General Charles Gordon, who had settled in Ein Kerem (John the Baptist's village) after famously governing Sudan.

He became obsessed by the view of the hill from the roof of the American Colony and believed that he saw a skull clearly in the rocks.
 He became convinced that this was Golgotha - where Christ was crucified - 'the place of the skull'. So persuasive was he that this became the site of the Garden Tomb.  


Reading and watching

  • Foot by Foot to Santiago de Compostela/Judy Foot
  • The Testament of Mary with Fiona Shaw at the Barbican
  • The Testament of Mary/Colm Toibin
  • Schwanengesang/Schubert - Tony Spence
  • Journals/Robert Falcon Scott
  • Fugitive Pieces/Ann Michaels
  • Unless/Carol Shields
  • Faust/Royal Opera House
  • The Art of Travel/Alain de Botton
  • Mad Men Series 6
  • A Week at The Airport/Alain de Botton
  • The Railway Man/Eric Lomax
  • Bright Lights, Big City/Jay McInerney
  • Stones of Venice/John Ruskin
  • The Sea, the Sea/Iris Murdoch
  • Childe Harold/Lord Byron
  • All The Pretty Horses/Cormac McCarthy
  • Extreme Rambling/Mark Thomas
  • Story of my Life/Jay McInerney
  • Venice Observed/Mary McCarthy