steepholm (steepholm) wrote,

Thunder in the Temple

As promised in a recent post, this morning I rose early to visit the bombed-out Temple church in which Sanctum is being held - a 24-day, 24-hour-a-day concert with a secret schedule. I wondered whether I might be alone in the audience if I arrived at 5.30am, but no - there were five or six others, middle-aged chaps well wrapped against the cold, with a slight trainspotterly vibe.

The church is normally shut - in so far as a bombed-out shell can ever be shut. I'd never before stood beneath its leaning tower (which remains) looking up at the perpendicular tracery of its glassless windows, let alone done so in the dark. The only sound was some nameless distant siren not unlike the one that was the last thing the church heard, no doubt, on the night it lost its insides to the Luftwaffe. That was seventy-five years ago, almost to the day.

Competing with the siren and the slurping of the trainspotterly men (mugs of tea had been distributed gratis to the brave concert-goers: I declined) was one other sound - that of a thunder storm. This was coming from within the large, Tobleronish wooden structure that had been erected in the nave, and in which the concert was to take place.

Gingerly we entered. The sound of recorded thunder was loud here, but our attention was drawn more imperiously by the sight of a gigantic, anatomically-correct human heart on a metal pole, and a young man with no clothes on standing next to it. Indeed he was attached to it, by a string that ran from his left arm to its right ventricle.

The men with mugs and I found some fold-out wooden seats and settled down to watch what turned out to be a solo ballet performance in which the naked young man cavorted very very slowly around the heart for some 40 minutes to the sound of thunder. At a certain point the thunder began to face competition from the dawn chorus, with occasional sarcastic comments from herring gulls. For my part I was worried that the dancer would catch a chill, for even in my coat and fingerless gloves I was none too warm, and he had very little fat for insulation.

At length he appeared to come round to my opinion, and pulled on a T-shirt, which I took to be the end of the performance. We clapped, and I slid off into the steely day...

What the Templars of yore would have made of it I have no idea. But yore had its own oddnesses, and the Templars more than most. I admired the young man's tenacity and poise, but must admit to being a little bored, and slightly disappointed at the lack of actual music. But maybe I'll go back. Next time I may strike lucky and get the consort of viols I have long wished for.
Tags: bristol, real life
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