Friday, 22 November 2013

Christmas comes early at Damascus Gate

Stepping out of the garden and back down the hill to Damascus Gate seems to be stepping back towards life. So strange: as Christ died to bring eternal life. Perhaps because the actual garden tomb (whether Christ's or not) is so very powerful.

There is a space for grieving, a space where the body was laid, a groove in which to slot a stone slab and a small window. This tomb, thought not to be Christ's, dates from Herod's time.

Down the hill there is life abundant - piles of vegetables and crowds of people.

Smells of herbs and roasting spices, coffee - and street carts with food. Seeing Damascus Gate for real, after walking up and down Uxbridge Road past Damas Gate for so many years, is a thrill I have to say. (Some life caged - canaries in the sun

Stop for a mint tea at a cafe just inside the gate. Christmas has already come here.

There is also a 'pumbkin' dish. The owner tries to persuade me to join the Franciscan monks walking the Stations of the Cross just down the road on the Via Dolorosa. There is only so much intensity you can take though.
A Finnish couple come to sit next to me. They have been in Eilat for a week and just arrived by coach in Jerusalem. The woman has a strong fixed stare. I say that we used to order food from Stockmanns in Helsinki when we lived in Moscow. I had a small child I said and used to fly to Helsinki to the doctor's. She said she had given birth in Kenya to her second daughter. Older, she might have thought twice about it. New mothers know little of the risks.
Ask what she ws doing in Kenya and she says she and her husband were Lutheran missionaries.

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