Windsor is a cut above Gloucester. By comparison the latter is poor. It seems Gloucester Cathedral was only saved after the ravages of the reformation because there’s a couple of royal bodies in residence, namely Edward II and Robert, Duke of Normandy. Robert was an interesting bloke. It seems he had a few communication issues and got off side with just about everyone from everywhere. Any one point he was so bad they incarcerated him for a goodly period of time. It seems appropriate, then, that his effigy has him in a suit of armour, ready to draw his sword and parry with someone he didn’t like. The odd bit is his title: “Defender of Christianity”. I left wondering which bit he was defending. Mindu, having met a few Christians over the years, there have been one or two Robert’s among them. One can only assume he would have a diagnosis in our time, along with a bottle of pills. Perhaps the sword was a form of therapy.
The relative poverty of cities in England seems to be for the same reasons as that of the Catholic churches in Spain, or Europe as a whole. If you have dead bits of famous people, the money will pour in from tourism, or historical preservation societies. If, on the other hand, you can produce actual living royal people, then you’re on a guaranteed winner. Unfortunately Gloucester doesn’t have any living royal bodies of significance, so it’s something of a poor cousin. Windsor has the very important ones wandering around from time to time. Like bath, Windsor is awash with people and cameras. I overheard one American hoping to see Kate. I’m pretty sure they think she is the Queen, or at least want her to be.
The reason I’m here is to meet a clerical fellow looking to move the NZ (a wise man). I’m here to ‘check the cut of his jib’so to speak. Not a bad spot for an interview.
He suggested we walk the the Long Walk from George IV gate to the Copper Horse. And a long walk it was – 4.26km each way. It also turned out to be the hottest day of the summer. No hat, no sunnies and no bottle of water. Did I mention it was a long walk.
I skulled 2 liters of water when I got back. It was the most energetic interview I have ever performed.
After that little escapade we went to Evensong at St George’s Chapel in Windsor castle. For the uninitiated, it’s sort of like the spindle around which the Church of England spins. The Queen is the head of the church and St George’s is her church. It was fun. Because the Castle was closed at that time, we had to prove to the two cops holding M4 assault rifles that we were legit worshippers. I am the Dean of Wellington afterall, and the other guy was a local priest. However, it seems that possessing a title from the Colonies wasn’t good enough. Eventually we were allowed in, but only after being instructed to report the guy wearing a ‘red dress’ at the entrance to the chapel. We both informed the officer that it was in fact a cassock, not a dress. ‘Whatever’, he said. Humour and military grade weapons don’t go well together. Though I have to say it was quite cool having armed guards outside evensong. It gave the service a little something extra. I find myself wondering if we could pull it off back home. Parliamentary security services might have something to say about that.
It reminded me of an experience I had a few years back in Cairo. I attended a Presbyterian church one night and outside were rows of military trucks with heavily armed soldiers. Apparently there had been serious threats made to the Christian community there. I have to say I was a bit concerned, but when I got inside there were well over a thousand people in attendance. They didn’t seem too afraid. Ironically, in the Chapel at the centre of the Queens residence, despite having armed guards, there were less than 50 there. A western country with long Christian history equals no interest. A middle eastern country under the threat of violence and the believers turn up in their droves. What does it tell us?
Leaving Windsor I received a phone call from the hotel I was due to stay at in Slough, that my booking had not been processed because Expedia had not sent it through until the day I was due to arrive, hence there was no room at the inn. Checking a little further, all my bookings through till Monday were the same. A bit of rescheduling to do in the morning.