A report on the July 2011 Coventry (UK) boink was posted
to the newsgroup by Mike Lyle and is reproduced here:
So, what did we do? Coffee in the undercroft café named in memory of the Benedictine Priory founded
on that spot by Godiva (in English, Godgifu) and Leofric, no less (and, clearly, no fewer, either). Fell,
as easily as a.u.e. folk do, into something rather like old acquaintance. Then to Cathedrals new and old,
trapped for a while by an unrequested tour guide of brooky fluency. Served us right for not paying, I suppose
(well, I didn't tell James he needed to, and I've got some sort of season ticket myself).
Fine modern windows bring in light in strikingly thought-out ways; and on display are a few equally fine
sad fragments of medieval ones. Bishop's crosier, or perhaps crozier, made from a narwhal tusk donated by
Denmark. Rather fine icon, presented by Stalingrad — doesn't that city have Scandian connections too? Old
pennies let into the big blue-grey floor slabs at some of the joints: we wondered why.
Enormous tapestry by Graham Sutherland depicting — and this is where the iconography gets confusing
for the uninitiated — either Christ in Glory, or Christ the King, according to the website at http://www.know-britain.com/churches/coventry_cathedral_6.html.
I toyed with Christos Pantocrator, but that's Steve Hayes territory, so I shouldn't even try. I've always
thought the egg shape of the lower part of the robe must have been a mistake; but perhaps it's symbolic.
Sadly, nobody was playing the organ. On the wall outside is a fine Epstein group of Michael duffing Satan
Lunch and apostrophe-spotting in the Herbert Museum. (Bowls of salad, since you ask. One Corona beer,
one Fentiman's tangerine and Seville orange fizz.) Swapped more bits of biography and harrumphed about
how easy it was for some people in some places to get a doctorate these days: you all know the kind of
thing. Admired trial printing of James's puzzle-Swifties — which are now to be illustrated, so I hope
we'll soon get the opportunity to buy them. Aueistas will also know about James's neat reductions of famous
works to haiku form: the proofs of these may be thought to reduce Jim Crace to haiku form himself. Wondered
if new technology's impact on publishers would make writing once again an amateur pursuit or the vicitim
of patronage ("...toil,
envy, want, the patron, and the jail."). James reminded me of the dramatic occasion on which I shot
a macchiato in the scrubby interior of Corsica: gosh, but it seems so long ago now, it's almost as though
it never really happened. I'll tell you all about it some other time.
It's good to be a tourist in the town where you live: you actually get round to things you haven't managed
to do yet. In my case, this was visiting the knock-out St Mary's Guildhall (spotted a full stop after quotation
marks on the Fire Service memorial; aghast at how many Coventrians fell in the South African War: not the
luckiest city, this), full of medieval anfractuosities, sloping floors, tapestries, second-rate royal portraits, "Please
do not attempt to open the chest", pieces of armour, halberds, and even a room in which Mary Q of
S passed a no doubt worried night. There was even a statue of a naked woman who wasn't Lady Godiva. You
can hire it: there was a carefully burglar-proofed bar, complete, I'm sad to report, with Jack Daniels.
Perhaps entertainingly, they put on overnight ghost-hunts.
We checked, and James assiduously photographed, some the many Green Men surviving on old buildings in
Cov: a Pagan friend has sent me the link to pictures at http://www.redsandstonehill.net/greenmen/ [apparently
no longer available - webmaster].