Central London: the honour of a misogynistic saint, suffering a cantankerous American and hauling ass up 376 steps

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On Monday I met my best friend Leahney and her 15 year old son, and my Godson, Ryan to escort him to his first day of work experience. Not for him a week stacking shelves at Tescos or sorting cast off junk in charity shops like his school pals. Instead he managed to achieve access into this wondrous Prudential Life block on Chancery Lane where he went to assist agents for well-known sports personalities.

Charles Dickens used to live here. It is rather curious that it is not a regular blue plaque. Maybe someone fussy said it is vital the circle matche the brickwork and therefore tradition was over ruled. 

After hugs and kisses at reception and the security guard promising to look after our precious boy, Leahney and I then had an incredible lunch at Vanilla Black, an upmarket vegetarian restaurant in Tooks Court http://www.vanillablack.co.uk/.

I had smoked “cheese” with fried gram flour followed by peanut butter cheesecake with cracked cocoa bean and a banana puree with a rooibos and orange tea. The cream cheese is the Toffutti brand with gas inserted to give it the mousse like consistency.

Happily full of fancy food we toured St Paul’s Cathedral, the first time for either of us. I had put it off due to the £18 entry free but we were so close it would have been sacrilege to ignore this great house of the Anglican persuasion.

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A quick history of his namesake:

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Paul was one of the disciples of Jesus, an opinionated dictator who hijacks a lot of the New Testament. He started out as a tentmaker named Saul and was an ardent Christ hater who used to smack up His believers for fun. One day on his journey to Damascus, God penetrated his heathen brain by blinding him with a magnificent light, forcing him to accept the Lord as the one true savior.

Saul got the message but was left unable to steer his donkey straight. Luckily local folk escorted the bewildered man into town. He had his sight handed back, changed his name to Paul to mark his new beginning and went onto preach the word of God. He was often under the influence of misogyny given many of his forthright demands, for example “I do not permit a woman to teach or to assume authority over a man; she must be quiet”. Emperor Nero ordered his beheading by sword in Rome – possibly acting on the instruction of his wife.

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St Paul’s Cathedral was originally founded in AD604 by the Normans but the present building was built by Sir Christopher Wren in the English Baroque style and completed in 1710. Chris had designed over 50 churches and so it is reasonable to assume he had found his true niche. When he died he was the first person to be buried at St Paul’s. After him came the likes of the Lord Nelson, Winston Churchill and Arthur Gilbert (of Gilbert & Sullivan fame).

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There are not too many inside photographs for this blog since camera use was not allowed. I did sneak a few until I rightly received admonishment. Oh and the main top photo here is a close up of my souvenir postcard. 

If you want to see a little of inside St Paul’s here is a clip of Prince Charles & Lady Diana’s “fairy tale” wedding in the summer of 1981. Di understandably wanted to back out very near to the big day but as her sister pointed out “You can’t – the tea towels have already been printed”.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7vayTFmrWo4

I climbed the 257 steps to the Whispering Gallery.

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The gallery is so called because if you whisper at one side of the circle your message can be heard on the other side, 112 feet away. As my bestie had remained in the nave pews due to a bad back I could not confidently test this acoustic phenomena. 

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I then climbed a further 119 narrow steps to the Stone Gallery where I took these open air shots. The sight of London Bridge is the eighth wonder of the world in my opinion. 

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Behind me on the ascent was a senior American along with his daughter who had a baby strapped to her torso. Everything out of the grandfather’s mouth for the next 40 minutes was a complaint. The whole idea of the activity was “dumb” to him. It wasn’t as good as St Peter’s in Rome; he had just wasted £60 on dinner he was now quickly burning up with the excursion and where the hell is the air con? The Romans prefer to keep their tourists from fainting. 

He tried to back out of the queue at one point but was firmly wedged in place by fellow tourists and so he had to soldier on, with even more to grumble about. On and on it went as we climbed the spiral staircase in slow motion due to the large crowd. I smirked towards the top when I heard the daughter enquire “What time is your flight back on Thursday?“.

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One can also reach extra dizzy heights to the Golden Gallery, the tip of the dome, but it was a no go area on this particular visit. That would just about finished off the American grandfather. And his daughter.

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