23 March 2008

easter greetings

This equinoctial weather is playing havoc with the holidays. There is a half-hearted dusting of snow on the rooftops, nothing serious, but enough for the cats to peek out of the door and turn back again.

I am celebrating with some 78% chocolate with cocoa nibs and will get back out of bed when the house warms up a little. This indulgence (excuse?) does at least give me some time to tell you about yesterday. After we had done our shopping at Globe town market - Easter flowers from Joannes, scallops from the Downeys, fruit from Leslie Herbert, veg from Patrick Goggins,- we visited St John at Bethnal Green. I've walked past the church hundreds of times and yet never looked inside. It is one of three London churches designed by Sir John Soane, austere and beautiful, flagstone floors, peeling paint, dark wooden pews, with empty nameplates leftover from the days when you could pay for a private pew. Yesterday it was a buzz of activity with excellent women of the parish busy getting ready for the easter celebration. Dustpans and brooms stood around in corners with buckets of flowers waiting for expert hands to arrange them. And there were visitors, like us, who had come to see Chris Gollon's Stations of the Cross, a project which had taken eight years. The last painting, the Crucifixion, had been finished just a few days before and put up with the paint still drying. It was fascinating to see how the work had progressed. The earlier paintings were full of cartoonish noisy grotesques, the same kind of faces you see in hectic towns anywhere if you look closely. The later ones were much starker, elegiac. Together they were incredibly affecting and moving. You can see them all here, you can read what other people have said about them here or you can buy his work here. Even if you don't normally follow links, do take a look. If you want to get the full effect, you will have to go and see them yourself. In situ.

I could tell you more about the day. The visit to the Tate to see the Camden Town painters (interesting, in parts, especially the faces of bored, proud Londoners and the move of the city to the country) and Drawn from the Collection (see the Tacita Dean blackboard); or the visit to my aunts; or how quietly pleased my mum was with her big bunch of lusciously pink tulips; how irritated I was to have forgotten to take my camera out with me; how delicious the scallops were when we had them for tea; how good the barley wine tasted; or how I am unashamed to have had the bed warmed by a hot water bottle.

I shall be studying for the rest of this week, so I'm secretly hoping that the weather will stay cold as otherwise I shall want to be out having fun. In the meantime, I'll leave you with these easter flowers from one of John's school gardens that I have been saving for you - enjoy your holidays.

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