Tuesday, 21 November 2006

Paddington, Goldhawk Road & St. Cuthbert's

Woe to every sinful liar.          
        Who hears the signs of Allah recited and then haughtily persists in his denial as though he heard them not.  So give him tidings of a painful chastisement.
          The Holy Quran.  al-Jathiyah [The Kneeling].  8, 9.
Your life's all shattered into smithereens.           
Back in our silences and sullen looks,
for all the Scotch we drink, what's still between's
not the thirty or so years, but books, books, books.
       Tony Harrison, ‘Book Ends’.
Stopping off at Paddington for Goldhawk Road station, arriving by the underground, along the way are giant posters with photographs of scenes that the trains cut through on their way to the West Country.  Goldhawk Road's an unusual little station with classical music playing on the radio and a little flower shop and café just outside which looks old by today's standards:
Oh threats of Hell and Hopes of Paradise!  
One thing at least is certain--This Life flies;
One thing is certain and the rest is Lies;
The Flower that once has blown for ever dies. 
        Omar Khayyám. The Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám. Tr. Edward Fitzgerald. (1859, 1868, 1872, 1879, 1889).
After lunch I got off at Earl's Court and walked down Philbeach Gardens.  A winding street looking like something out of 'The Great Good Place' at the end of which lies the locked and time-blackened church of St. Cuthbert's: 
The tall imposing tower
Imposing.  Yes, but locked.
              W. H. Auden, 'As He Is'.
Betjeman wrote somewhere: 'This week I went straight from St.  Cuthbert's, Philbeach Gardens, round the corner to the motor show.  One lives by contrasts’. I walked into the nearby hall to ask if the workmen knew when the church was open, they didn't.  It really is an awe-inspiring giant church like a T-Rex looming in the middle of a strange and eerie Regency street, a castle in the clouds.  It was dark by this time but I rang a buzzer in an apartment block where on the first floor was a Victorian sitting room with an old man hunched over a large desk looking at a map and I thought of Milton who had gone blind as a result of too much reading by candlelight as a child! I gave up and walked off as a voice on one of the buttons I’d pressed answered:
"Hullo, hullo, hullo, hullo … Major Maxton-Weir? 
I've trussed your missing paratroop.  He's waiting for you here.

       John Betjeman, 'Invasion Exercise on the Poultry Farm'.

No comments:

Post a comment