There’s a rather good book called “Hidden Treasures of London” by Michael MacNay making the windows of all noted bookshops in London. After all, tourism shepherds everyone to mainly a top ten of overpriced venues with huge queues, forcing us into a heaving maelstrom of babbled languages, where the friction of rubbing cultures results in irritation rather than smooth happiness. So, with happy curiosity I bought this and eagerly thumbed through looking for places during lunchtimes out of the office. Fairly close was St Mary Aldermay, nestled quite closely to a good Thai lunch shop I can recommend – Grab – not as authentic as the street vendors in Bangkok, but certainly good enough to bring back heady memories of cycling past vast woks around Lumpini with clouds of fresh chili vapour assailing the palate and nostrils.
See…nostalgic already for Asia 😉
Anyway, near Watling Street, down one end of Bow Lane (the other end is St Mary Le Bow) is Mary Aldermary, so I lope in to find a dismaying cafe inside. Not good for an introvert to quietly saunter with all the slurping of beverages and munching of business people on sandwiches garnished with plate-filling salad. Still, I pluck up the courage to achieve my cultural aim and start wandering around, looking at tombs, plaques, architecture. No one cares a fig for my presence. This is a church relatively untouched by WWII, possibly untouched by Christopher Wren, a gothic revival model with six saucered domes and fan vaulting.
First ornate wall “tomb” I see is the Baudouin Memorial. Somewhere close is interred the body of this man since 1728. Rene was born in Tours, pitched up in England in 1677 to avoid the Popish (Catholic) persecutions carried out in the reign of Louis XIV under the Edict of Nantes in 1685. A Hugenot, he became a successful merchant, importing silks in spite of heavy fines and a deacon, ensuring his descendants married into the aristocracy. Now he’s a stone memorial, a hidden treasure in a guidebook. Is that what the best of us can aspire to? Next to it is the Pott Memorial; this time celebrating a chap born in 1714 who was an orthopedic pioneer at St Bartholomew’s hospital, a leading medical light of tuberculosis, brain trauma and the eponymouns “Pott’s fracture”, so named for a compound fracture of the leg after an equine mishap. Turns out I stepped on him as he’s interred under the Chancel since 1789. I move around the pinnacles with their rolling clouds overhead, a pastoral picture of the heavens.
Here’s some snaps I took…
The muted lunch rolls past me as I delicately step on the flagstones, then exit onto Bow Lane itself, pausing to try and peer at the worn tomb pavings…all names that are worn into the obscurity of history under the tramp of the hectic rats of today’s City.
No one cares a whit for those long dead souls, these places are fast becoming memorials to culinary entrepreneurship, no longer religious adulations to the wealthy who thought they could retain some immortality. A footnote in a Guidebook now…and a guilty curiosity for the likes of me…
Oh, I heard an amusing quip recently. Rather good, I thought, and pertinent 😉
Life’s like a rollercoaster…lots of queuing
A Happy 2016 to you all…
Is this what diplomacy is all about?