Coventry Boink

12 July 2011

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 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 up.

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.

Guildhall pictures at or, in full:,or.r_gc.r_pw.&fp=1&biw=1357&bih=946

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 [apparently no longer available - webmaster].

No time to visit other sights, such as one of my favourites: which is actually the present Register Office.

After a very congenial few hours, adjourned in order to catch the rush hour.

Click here to see the posting and the rest of the thread in the Google archives.

Mike Lyle, James Hogg