AMONGST THE STONES AND FLOWERS

A little while back we held an art and music show called ‘The London Book of the Dead‘ in the ancient vaults under St Pancras Church in Bloomsbury.

We played surrounded by the tombs and gravestones of the departed. It is quite a remarkable place and I had a very strange experience once when I was there alone during the set up.

If you visit the church, probably the most striking thing to see is the portico held up by four classical female figures based on caryatids at the Acropolis . Once, there was more to them than now meets the eye. You see when the builder – an Italian called Charles Rossi – who had them made at considerable expense, brought them to the church for installation, it was discovered that they were slightly too tall to fit. Oh Lord!

Under the pressure of the schadenfreude of his workers, the jeering of a gathering group of onlookers and the foot-tapping impatience of the church officials, Mr Rossi had to think fast. He made a heroic decision – or, one might say, a heroic incision – and removed a twelve inch slice of each lady’s midriff. This, an early example of the gastric band operation, saved the day but is no doubt what gives them that characteristic and rather dumpy slouch. I have no strong feelings either way about cosmetic surgery but I quite like these girls the way they are and it is rather peaceful to sit in the shade in the churchyard under their watchful gaze on a hot, busy day.

This old song was written in the very same churchyard looking out at the busy city a few years back whilst waiting to take a train from Euston. I was thinking of it and St Pancras this last week on the fifth anniversary of the London bombings. They happened in the neighbourhood and that sad day was marked when the church was very movingly covered with flowers.

I will be back performing in a kind of vault this Sunday as part of Battersea Arts Centre’s One on One show from 8-9 pm. Apparently, I will be in a large box with one audience member at a time playing a selection of such old and new songs.

If you come and have the stomach for it, do say hello.