Sunday 21 June 2020

Escape from Lockdown

Yesterday, for the first time in a long while, I had a day out – a proper day out, taking the train all the way to Lichfield, that lovely and under-appreciated town/city, to meet up with my Derbyshire cousin. Apart from everything else, it was sheer joy just to be heading so far away from home territory (my little patch on the edge of the North Downs) and travelling through countryside I had not seen for months – smartly shorn sheep grazing old pastureland, square-towered churches among trees, rough knobbly scrubland, brick-built small towns... And then to arrive at Lichfield, the spiritual heart of Mercia, where St Chad built his monastery, and where now its successor, the great cathedral that bears his name, raises its three beautiful spires over the brick-and-stone city with its two great pools.
  We (my cousin and I) sat in the park and ate a bread-and-cheese picnic while the sun unexpectedly blazed down on us; we sat in Lunar Man Erasmus Darwin's herb garden; we sat and enjoyed the view over Minster Pool; and we sat in the cathedral for socially-distanced silent prayer, having duly submitted to hand sanitising at the door. My cousin lit a candle, but was not allowed to handle it; that high-risk job was entrusted to a latex-gloved usher. Such is the Church of England now. But at least the cathedral was (partly) open, and as glorious as ever. We didn't drink Sangria in the park, but this escape from lockdown was about as near as it gets to a Perfect Day.


  1. Doctor Johnson's Lichfield ? Good sunday.

  2. The very one, Ricardo. The Johnson House Museum is closed at present, but the statue still stands in the marketplace.