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Tuesday, 4 February 2003

Richard Cooper's 2003 Hoban Adventure 4/28


Parish of St John, Walham Green

(The Bat Tattoo)

I headed back to the town centre, stopping only to discreetly deposit the Kraken’s birthday bottle of Cuvée Mythique on Russ’s doorstep. The thought did flash across my mind that one of the members of the low-budget drinking community that Roswell Clark referred to might happen along and filch it before Russ had a chance to claim it, but the chances of this happening were too slim to bother Russ by ringing his doorbell and hand it to him in person. Anyway, even if it did happen, surely none of us could argue that that poor bloke’s need wasn’t greater than Russ’s.

Roswell Clark chats to the low-budget drinker at the Parish of St John in Walham Green, back towards the Tube station and up Fulham Road. The traffic was by now so thick in parts that it was quicker to walk through it than wait for the green man at the pedestrian crossing. On the opposite side of the road to the station was the Blue Elephant, the first and still one of the most exclusive Thai restaurants in London, where Peter Diggs takes Lenore for dinner in Amaryllis Night & Day.

The church was located between Vanston Place and North End Road between a square of small shops and cafés and the main high street. The building glowed in the early morning sunshine. The figure of Christ on the cross as described in The Bat Tattoo was through the front gate and to the left. I nipped in, took a couple of quick photos and left feeling guilty, not just because (even as a non-Christian) it seemed wrong to pay it lip-service, but because the desolate attitude of Christ’s face and the bloodiness of His wounds were doing their job in making me feel that way. The fibreglass realism had taken much of the image's mystery away, but I suppose the whole point of it was that it was realistic. As Dennis Potter once said, “I always thought the point of religion was the wound, not the bandage.”

I folded the quote in half and put it on the shelf of one of the two phone boxes outside the church, the first of several phone-box drops of the day.

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