Saturday, 28 November 2015

Sage advice for the pilgrim

Sage advice for the pilgrim on gravestone at Escomb Church, near Bishop Auckland: blunt and to the point.
'Praises on tombs are trifles idly spent/A virtuous woman's name is her sole monument.'

Thursday, 26 November 2015

Saxon church

A fabulous Saxon church at Escomb, two miles from Bishop Auckland in County Durham. The new, large, windows are 19th century. The originals, so high up, were clearly just to let light in - not see out. Was this church literally a place of refuge? You can imagine night's dark forces here in the frozen north, with raiders from the North Sea as well as from across the border and on the moors. A woman taking out flowers is getting ready for Advent. This is a famous place for pilgrimage she says - and you can see why.

Friday, 13 November 2015

A nation will be judged by its treatment of the vulnerable

Picked up by chance the parish newsletter from St Martin in the Fields - and read a brilliant piece by Richard Carter, vicar there, whom I knew a bit when I worked at Notre Dame Refugee Centre.

A nation will be judged by its treatment of the vulnerable, he says, and I think it's worth typing out the rest of the pice. On 5 November St Martin's held a service honouring the lives of 194 people who had died homeless or in temporary accommodation, night shelters and hostels in the past year.  Sadly many of them have not had 'their stories told in funerals of gatherings of friends and relatives'.

"Homelessness and destitution is increasing in London. We live in a city which has thrived and grown because of the talents, energy and giftedness of those who have come from around our nation and the world to work here. The success of this city has depended on those hwo have served it - cleaned its pavements, mended its roads, swept its offices, waited in its restaurants, washed up in its kitchens, served in its stores, driven its buses and trains, collected its tickets, nursed and staffed its hospitals and its old people's homes.  We have been enriched not just by professionals with academic qualifications, but by people who have offered their work, their hands, their personality, their energy, their dedication.

"A city which has benefitted so much from its workers' labour also has a responsibility to care for its most vulnerable members - those who for whatever reason don't get the job, or don't have the place to stay, or the right documents, or got sick, or into trouble...."

Wednesday, 11 November 2015

Cornish cliffs and Peter Lanyon landscapes

High Wind/Peter Lanyon
Fabulous Peter Lanyon landscapes at the Courtauld Gallery, London - huge paintings inspired by Lanyon's gliding, rarely hung together.He paints from the air - the weather, fields, spiralling colours and air movement. Reminded me of walking the west Cornwall coast last summer.
Lots of students were there sketching the paintings and someone had a wash pen brush - perfect for capturing this movement.  Downstairs in the  main galleries, a Eduaord Manet portrait (another age and another sensibility) had similar sweeping brushstrokes...
Au Bal/Edouard Manet
High Ground/Peter Lanyon

Tuesday, 10 November 2015

A twilight palm plus a book about pilgrimage

Bonfire night at a church in Chiswick  and the vicar has (brilliantly) left the church open.
Inside there's a palm by the altar in the twilight - and a book about pilgrimage by the door...

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