Published 'Purple Patch' 1989
As I sit inside St Paul’s Cathedral, I write and, by writing, I make the moment true.
Waiting for Doom, some say, is worse than Doom itself. Others, that Triumph and Disaster should be treated as the equal Impostors they both surely are. But what price Death, I ask.
There are many religions in the world, but the only one for me, I think, is Life - where else can you trust your Faith? The rest is Doubt and Dogma.
The Cathedral is echoing with some men stacking chairs. I suspect they are not allowed to swear inside here — labourers haps recruited rather for Manners than Muscle. The endemic Tourists have yet to arrive, probably still partaking of portmanteau breakfasts at their respective hotels. The great insides of the Dome are always empty, except for the odd midget or two crawling round the high circular gallery.
The Second World War was fought within that Dome, I fancy, toylike planes dodging and weaving, dropping pellets smaller than pigeons’ eggs to the marble floor. All the lights had to be extinguished inside the Cathedral, because of the Blackout; so the worshippers in the pews could see nothing but the sparkles and flashes, amid the cracks and gunrattles. Then feel the fluttering of dead wings past their upturned faces.
History books tell us that the War took place outside the Dome; that mighty Dome withstanding all the onslaughts to which its purlieus so easily submitted. Eyewitnesses remember it that way, too.
Life itself lives only in Memory, as the passing of each remembered second becomes the only evidence of existence. What price History, then, when human faculties grow to such a pitch of Doubt,while the Machines march?
The Cathedral’s factotums leg it past me in unison, their senses in the off mode.
As I leave, I wonder indeed whether everything is in my head.
(Written inside St Paul’s, 17.5.89)
Outside, life seems to be going on as normal.
(Written outside St Paul’s, 17.5.89)