Nearest Tube Chancery Lane

Bolt out of Chancery Lane (the wrong side, came out next to Next).

The luxuriant wide street of High Holborn.

The Prudential Building is here, somewhere, pink and gothic beneath its shroud

It’s a shock not to see it.

.

Down towards Holborn circus

But a pit stop in Smiths

Reveals they sell cigarettes now

Which just seems wrong.

.

Further on past Hatton Garden

With its old-fashioned street sign

How did it survive the upgrade?

I see if I can see a man in black with a big black hat

Too much black for such an oddly warm day.

.

But not today. No diamonds today.

.

Further navigation of the circus

It never seems like a good time to cross

So many angles from where death might strike

.

Watch the road.

.

Ely place is left behind as we approach Pret,

Gleaming and corporate

A direct challenge to the comforting giant of Sainsbury’s HQ on the opposite corner

They trade disingenuous smiles as they prepare for the next round.

.

Being thus benetted round with megaliths

We cross to St Andrew. St Andrew. No possessive ‘S’ at the end of Andrew. Andrew SINGULAR.

I looked it up.

.

We head to the Holborn Viaduct entrance

Not the St Andrew Hill one. That would be like entering Ithaca through the wrong door.

We go the route that mortals are meant to take.

.

Down the steps, up the steps

Into the church and

A dense incense wall greets us.

.

Inside is a man sitting

Doing what people do in churches

Contemplating, in his brown robe.

I didn’t know you got monks in London

So near Sainsbury’s HQ.

.

We walk along the back of the church

Renovated after the Luftwaffe made mincemeat of Wren’s interior

Still protesting 1647 despite its 1960s makeover

“Beneath the wig and false eyelashes I’m just me”

.

Luckier than Christchurch Greyfriars down the road however,

Who succumbed to pavement widening in 1962.

Amen.

.

Along the back wall, we creep

Quietly, trying not to disturb the contemplating man

A Tuesday lunchtime game of Grandmother’s footsteps.

.

And outside again into what seems to be nothing like London.

A quiet courtyard, the sort you’d find in a Deanery in Devon.

No noise, gravel underfoot, where the **** am I?

(No swearing in church)

.

Meeted and greeted we go down to the crypt.

Health and safety is not an option.

I wobble down uneven, Caroline steps

To blackness, dust and close air.

.

The working lights blink and show

Tiny bricks

An unexplained hole in the wall

An explained hole in the ceiling

Nails sticking out of things

Good acoustics

Weird blue chairs

Some leftover church furniture

.

And absolutely no noise from what’s above

Like it had all gone away

And we were down there on our own

In our 17th Century bunker.

Farringdon Without.

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