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Sunday, April 22, 2007

I went yesterday to the scene of a murder. I know this was rather ghoulish but the murder took place 837 years ago. Thousands of other pilgrims have made their way to the cathedral over the years. Prayers have been held at the site for over 1400 years – and around two thousand services are held every year.

As you face the main entrance to the cathedral there is a row of terraced houses on the left hand side. There is nothing particularly remarkable about the houses – other than their proximity to the cathedral.

The evening was rather chilly. We were all wearing coats. By seven in the evening the crowds of foreign school children had disappeared.

A table with six chairs had been placed on the cobbles and six determined men and women were having their meal outside one of the houses. Two of the women were wearing woolly hats. The table was laden with wine and food. There was lots of laughter and noise. Possibly more noise than a group of over sixties usually made at a meal – but the party was happy.

The reaction of the passers by varied considerably.

An elegant sixteen year old said: “Silly old …”

An obvious tourist was captivated, “How quaint, how British. How wonderful, we must take a picture. No one would believe us.”

There were no signs about kicking balls in this famous old courtyard. Two eight year old boys dashed across the open area passing a ball between them. A voice shouted, “Come along dears. It is time to go home and do some work.”

If only the Eleven Plus had elements of history.

Who was the priest that was murdered?

Which cathedral was visited by thousands of pilgrims on their way to the Holy Lands?

Why was the king forced to walk towards the cathedral dressed in sack cloth and ashes?

Poor children, imagine having to work on a beautiful Saturday evening.

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