Tuesday, May 14, 2013


Sometimes in life it's good to have treats. I've just had a weekend full of them. 

We had a work event at the House of Lords on Friday night. In all honesty, I went there feeling a bit blase. But with good colleagues, and with the fun of being on the Terrace and helping lead a tour, it was all rather fun. 

Sometimes the things you don't think too much of turn out to be really great.  

Next day I had lunch on Saturday with Tory, my dear friend, and we shared stories and life and insight and joys and frustrations. And treats. He was in London, visiting from DC for a few days. Next weekend, I am in DC, visiting for a few days. We will meet again then.

Sometimes the things you really look forward to are amazing.

I'd made a decision to go to Covent Garden to see the Royal Opera perform Verdi's Don Carlo whilst I was in London. I didn't have a ticket, but there are a few always available on the day, and my wonderful friend Rosy was up for it - so we turned up at 7.30am and waited. I especially love Jonas Kaufmann's voice, and the chance to hear him sing 'live' in the Opera House was something I didn't want to miss. 

I've been to more operas than I can remember. Here are my top three: Aida in Florence in the mid nineties. Turandot at Covent Garden about ten years ago. And Saturday night's Don Carlo

Very rarely do you see something so close to perfection that you never want to see it again. David Tennant's Hamlet. Jane Eaglen's Turandot. The whole darn cast on Saturday. It was an immense experience.   

On Sunday morning, after breakfast and conversations and nearly staying too late, I treated myself to a very different experience of church to my usual weekly diet of Calverley parish. I went to Westminster Abbey. I've never really been there before; I mean - I've wandered into the nave. I've never paid the extra and seen the Quire or Poet's Corner. I've never been to a service. To worship feet away from where the Queen was crowned was awe inspiring. To praise the King of kings in this place has a remarkable resonance. I know the double patriotism of the Christian and the earthly belonging is viewed by some as suspect; I see the point, but also find it capable of wonder and value. 

The choir sang beautifully; Vernon White, Canon Theologian, preached superbly. The combination of a really quite touching and emotive sermon and splendid Cathedral style worship was beautiful. 

Then I walked through the cool spring sunshine, and enjoyed the sudden crowds. It had been quiet when I'd arrived. It was quiet no more. London is full of tourists, and that included me. I don't belong there, and have no desire ever so to do. But I do enjoy visiting. I do enjoy the treats. I do enjoy the opportunity to see and hear and marvel at gifts and excellence and beauty. I enjoy stopping and thinking about Churchill as he gazes still at the Houses of Parliament, at the Unknown Soldier alone returned from war, at the statues of once-famous men that pop up unbidden around every corner, at palaces and offices and shops and spaces and people who affect me because I am a person too, being treated to moments shared with those who never knew me.

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