Sunday, 24 November 2013

An early start and a visit to the tomb

Woke at 5. Roosters crowing throughout the night it seemed, and calls to prayer from the muezzin.
No one up but the night guard. The Via Dolorosa deserted except for an Armenian priest carrying a plastic bag.

 Turn up to climb steps under the covered market: boys pushing a trolley of pitta and bread say good morning.

An Armenian woman shows me the way around the corner to the courtyard in front of the Holy Sepulchre.
It is empty apart from the two of us. She disappears into the church. No one at the Stone of Unction where the lights sway. 

Upstairs - by Calvary - a German mass is taking place in the chapel on the right. To the left a group of Indians pray and kiss the stone under the altar. Then they go.

Downstairs the Catholic Mass is in Latin. The priest starts to put out barriers for the queue to visit Christ's tomb and find myself near the start. This is the dome built by the Crusaders - the Temple Church mirrors this. Monumental pillars.

Little time to look closely. A marble slab and a small room. Not a place for photos.
Leave and wish I could find the Ethiopian monastery I read about years ago in H V Morton. See a small door in the courtyard to the left and go in. THis is it. On the first floor a Mass is taking place. Sit at the back with the women, who half prostrate themselves on the floor beside me, their white scarves covering their bodies as well as their heads. The priest comes towards us with the cross to bless us

Go back to the convent to sleep. It is still a long time until breakfast.
Pitta bread, cubed cheese and tomatoes, olives. Yoghurt and fresh fruit. A very slow conveyor style toaster. I take someone else's bread by accident not realising it is that slow. He jumps up beside me. 'That's my toast!"

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