Sabtu, 22 Oktober 2011

Scrounging At St. Paul's

Last Monday I crossed the Thames on a pedestrian bridge. I had been at the Gerard Richter exhibit at the New Tate Museum with Fingers. He resembled a reformed pirate. We hadn't seen each other in 10 years. Most of my friends in Europe could say the same. Fingers took a few photos of me on the bridge. None of them made me look young. That accomplishment is a demanding trial in a city as old as London.St. Paul's Cathedral loomed over the buildings lining the banks of the river. At 365 feet high the church was the tallest building in London for centuries. My friend Fingers explained its history on our approach."To this day nothing can be built to disturb the view of St. Paul's from the four cardinal points of the compass. Nothing taller can be erected to disrupt the line of sight. It's an unwritten law obeyed to this day. You ever been inside?" "Never." I recollected walking around it, but never down the aisle like Princess Diana during her wedding ceremony to the Prince of Wales on July 29, 1981. "Sounds like a plan."We approached the Christopher Wren cathedral from the south and worked our way to the western door. Hundreds of Occupy Wealth protestors were camped to the north of the entrance. A band played rock songs. I donated 5 quid to their cause. Fingers gave them 2 pounds. They looked harmless. We entered the cathedral and stopped at the ticket booth. The price of admission was 13 quid."Fucking hell." Fingers remembered it being free."Screw this." Thirteen was an unlucky number for an atheist to spend on a visit to a Christian church. We left the church and headed for the subway. Several passing police were carrying truncheons and plastic arrest bands. They belonged to the riot squad. Five armored trucks were parked on the opposite side of the cathedral. Craig shouted from a protective distance, "Attica Attica."The riot squad didn't even turn their heads, but the demonstrations against wealth were taking their toll on the church.This week the reverend canon announced the closure of the cathedral, the first since a bomb stuck in its dome during the Blitz. The protestors understand that the church is losing money, but they also refused to surrender to a government deeply connected to the powers of wealth. The church is not so sacred, for its daily operation costs about 20,000 pounds. At 13 pounds a head they need to reap over 1500 customers in a day.The reverend canon refused to say that his decision to close the cathedral was based on pressure from the Friends of St Pauls such as Sir Paul and Lady Getty, Goldman Sachs International, UBS Investment Bank, Prudential Plc, Charterhouse Capital Partners LLP, Standard Chartered Plc, J.P. Morgan, Canary Wharf Group Plc, the London Stock Exchange, and American Express.The telephones never stop ringing when they call.According to the BBC a wedding at St Paul's nevertheless went ahead on Saturday despite its closure to the general public.Natasha Ighodaro arrived at the cathedral to marry Nick Cunningham against a backdrop of dozens of tents and a banner reading "capitalism is crisis".Leaving the service, the bride said: "There hasn't been any disruption at all – it's been wonderful, really amazing."Wedding guest John Giles, from Godalming in Surrey, offered his support to the demonstrators. He said: "I think there are valuable comments being made and it seems to have been done in a peaceful way. They have a democratic right to protest."It's not about love. It's about no love.

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