Thursday, September 25, 2008

Scones with Clotted Cream in the Crypt at St. Martin-in-the-Fields

25 Sep 2008

They've cleaned St. Martin-in-the-Fields! I first heard of this church as the home of the orchestra directed by Neville Mariner. From the name, I imagined a picturesque building situated in a green meadow dotted with wild flowers. When I first saw it, I was dismayed to see a dingy, crumbling old church at the edge of congested and traffic-filled Trafalgar Square. In addition to it's music program, the church has an outreach to the homeless and is the center of a ministry to Chinese residents of the neighborhood. The present project has not only cleaned the church, but has also built a substantial undergroud facility for it's work.

I had tea in the old crypt, an underground area with many brick arches. Arriving warm and thirsty, I'd hoped for an iced drink; but eight ounces of a cool but not iced bottled soda just wouldn't do it. So I ordered hot tea along with a scone and clotted cream. Then at the table where I picked up a knife and a napkin, I spied a bucket of ice! So I filled my cup, sat down and poured the hot tea over the melting cubes. Ah! A satisfying draught of really cold, strong tea!

I sat in the company of the Misses Oliphant, spinster sisters who has died in the 1830s. Their grave marker was embedded in the floor at my feet. I felt they wouldn't mind that I was alive and enjoying my tea on top of them. Someday, I'll be dead, too, and I hope someone from the future can think kindly of me as I was thinking of them. There was a jazz concert scheduled for that evening in the crypt. Will the music wake the dead?


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