The other week, I spent a day with friends at a beautiful house in Topango Canyon – a kind of wonderful wilderness area within the city of Los Angeles. The girl who owns it is inexplicably never there but we made good use of her trampoline. Now I defy anybody – even the most down-hearted or cynical – to start bouncing on such a trampoline and to not feel happy or at least to not grin broadly. It becomes absolutely impossible to take oneself seriously anymore – and trust me, I’ve had a lot of practice. If things don’t work out, I am considering starting a bounce-yourself-better therapy business or political reconciliation service. I am sure if you had put Bin Laden and Bush together on a trampoline they would have worked something out.
Last week I visited Lambeth Palace
gardens – another beautiful oasis in a busy city – on one of the very rare days it was open to anyone but the Archbishop of Canterbury and the chosen few. There are twelve acres of gorgeous, secret, mediaeval gardens said to be home to amongst other creatures a tall blue fairy who has been in residence longer than any christian (I will tell you the story of her counterpart The Lambeth troll
one day). As I wandered amongst the topiary and beehives, I rounded a leafy corner to find … ah! .. a trampoline. I couldn’t resist having a bounce. I realised it was possible, given enough vigorous and well-timed rythmic oscillation, if not to reach Heaven, then to at least see over the old boundary wall and catch a glimpse of a nurse in St Thomas’s Hospital opposite. Now I don’t know how the Archbishop spends his time off from what must have been a very trying job of late, but this seemed a possibility – especially given the exhilarating updraft one would experience under one’s robes.
This corner of central London is interesting for many reasons – it has for instance: the bus stop with the most beautiful view of the city; a strange monument to William Blake (a local) and the museum of garden history which is without doubt the most peaceful place to lunch before renewing an assault on Westminster and the West end. The gardens won’t be open to pagans again ’til next year unfortunately but there is a new and very good exhibition in the palace itself.
If you see the archbishop while you are there, do bounce gently up and down to see if he responds with any recognition.