My fellow Americans! – I’ve just passed my citizenship civics test and am a dual citizen of the US and UK, pending my final hurdle, namely standing up in good clothes – the invitation says no jeans, no T-shirt! – and singing the song (yes, the one known to shameless but fond Feliciano fans as “José, can you see…”), and pledging the pledge – so….my fellow-Americans, and Britons: apologies to any loyal readers of this blog (of any nationality), if such there be. Apologies for the long silence, I mean; and also for the shameful Feliciano joke which found voice the day the great José sang the national anthem at Tiger Stadium, 42 years after his first, astonishing rendition there during the ’68 World Series, during which he shocked everyone and offended many by becoming the first big-occasion National Anthem singer to really mess with the melody.
And now: the last 10 weeks! Mostly in the UK and Ireland, where Claire showed 40 of her paintings in her home town, to huge success. While Claire prepared her exhibition, of which a full account with photos shortly (I have to report piecemeal in a series of posts, otherwise the words trickle down one side of the page one word at a time), Chiara and I revisited Stonehenge, and went to Ely Cathedral, one of the great world’s great architectural and pilgrimage sites, founded in 672, whose peculiar magic culminates in the Lantern, high above the crossing of nave and transept. The original tower collapsed in February 1322, to the chagrin of Alan of Walsingham, who only two months earlier had been elected sacristan and given charge of the fabric of the cathedral. He more than redeemed himself by designing (some have questioned his role, but others give him credit as an architect) an astonishing feature in the new tower, supported by oaks so huge that it is said they could not be replaced because there are none today big enough for the job. This feature is the Lantern, an octagon of painted panels 120 feet above the cathedral floor; on each panel a winged musician-angel plays and/or sings; the panels open, to reveal living choristers who sing, like very angels, from the highest point in the church. We climbed to the Lantern, I defying my knees and, with the help of Chiara’s guiding hand, my vertigo, and in my photo you can glimpse Chiara in one of the panels, peeping out – my angel.