Fifteen-Year Itch

For our fifteenth wedding anniversary we were itching for a big city scratch with a difference. Despite my heathen leanings, I do like an impressive church, and few are more impressive than London’s St. Paul’s Cathedral, Christopher Wren’s tour de force topped with its heavenly dome. The earlier Gothic pile was torched along with much of the old medieval city in the Great Fire of 1666. It’s reckoned the blaze started in a bakery in the appropriately named Pudding Lane, bringing a whole new meaning to the hallowed phrase ‘give us our daily bread’.

Meandering around the flashy Baroque splendour brought back happy memories of my first pilgrimage – back in my spotty teens when I accompanied my grandmother, who was over from Ireland.

According to the annals, there’s been a church on the same spot since 604 AD, and possibly as far back as the late Roman period, as suggested by a plaque listing the pre-Norman bishops with their glorious tongue-twister names.

In stark contrast to the lavish decor above, the crypt is simply appointed and stuffed with the tombs of kill and cure notables from days long past, from Florence Nightingale and Alexander Fleming – who discovered penicillin quite by chance – to the victors of Trafalgar and Waterloo, Nelson and Wellington. Napoleon must be spinning in his monumental Parisian grave. Wren is there too, of course.

After piety came avarice, with indulgent afternoon tea and bubbles in The Swan at Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre followed by mother’s ruin at Halfway to Heaven, the homo watering hole near Nelson’s massive column, where Liam and I first met. They knew we were coming judging by the ultimate gay megamix playing on the jukebox – Pet Shop Boys, Erasure, Marc Almond, The Communards, Frankie Goes to Hollywood, Dead or Alive, Gloria Gaynor and Hazel Dean – with Liza Minnelli’s ‘Love Pains’ bringing up the rear. Liam’s shoulders shimmied to the beat. Perfect.

8 thoughts on “Fifteen-Year Itch

  1. Happy anniversary my dears!! St. Paul’s is an underrated edifice. I went to St. Paul’s Girls’ School and was confirmed there. Things went downhill after that, in terms of my Christian-ness, I am afraid…


      1. Hahaha! An Old Paulina! My behavioral decline started there. Miss Partridge, our history teacher, called us “guttersnipes.” We wore that badge with pride (yes, I had accomplices). All a long, long time ago!


  2. What a fabulous way to celebrate an anniversary! Happy fifteenth!
    As gorgeous as old churches are, and as much as I truly love them, I’m also repelled by the opulence, by knowing people starved so “good Christians” could try to impress their god. I’m not sure She even exists, but if She does, She sure doesn’t need all that stuff. A few hours ago, I just looked back at an old writing posted in my blog in 2013. It’s called “Finding Spirit”, and it’s about how I always find Her in nature.


    1. It was was kinda fabulous. I totally get what you mean about the opulence, though. It’s one of the many things that turned me against established religion when I was young. It’s the history that interests me these days.

      Liked by 1 person

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