Thursday 1 December 2022

Under the Lights Again

 Last year, my photograph of Dr Johnson brooding under the Christmas lights in Lichfield marketplace was looked at by many more people than ever read any of my other posts. So, in the hope of repeating the welcome uptick, I've photographed him again, this time from a different angle. Behind him is the church of St Mary (quality Victorian work by Fowler of Louth, with a steeple by G.E. Street), which now houses the public library and, at clerestory level, a very pleasant café and cultural 'hub', with views of the chancel and the upper reaches of the nave. The fine bas-relief on the statue's plinth shows Johnson's act of penitence in Uttoxeter marketplace, where he stood bare-headed in the rain to atone for an incident in his teenage years, when he refused to man the family bookstall there in place of his sick father:  'Pride was the source of that refusal, and the remembrance of it was painful. A few years ago I desired to atone for this fault. I went to Uttoxeter in very bad weather and stood for a considerable time bareheaded in the rain on the spot where my father’s stall used to stand. In contrition I stood, and I hope the penance was expiatory.'

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