Yesterday attended a meeting at Ely Cathedral; first I walked round with my old friend John Maddison, painter and architectural historian who explained to me all the accumulated thinking about the cathedral’s evolution, down the carved leaf decoration in the choir; I was particularly struck by how, as one is normally so overwhelmed by the Romanesque character and the choir, one often fails to appreciate appreciate the glories of the chapels.
I admire this cathedral more than any I know, and admire it for being a living building of such ancient witness, and I thought about all the people who have been buried here, whose lives have been remembered and celebrated. I love the buildings of the close, the fragments of monastic buildings, which still provide homes. I arrived in bright sunshine, and later there was a rainstorm which broke the heat, but still somehow felt Mediterranean.
I lit candles and said a prayer for my mother, and bought her a cross made of olive wood from the holy land that is carved so that it can be easily held in the hand of an ill person, soft at the edges. Mum is now mostly hardly-conscious but when I sat with her on Thursday, I saw that her right hand held clenched on her chest was moving; she was pointing to her mouth, I thought for water, then I realised she was asking for a kiss. I read to her and played music to listen to, and the nurses brought me a lunch tray. I also felt her eyes on me all the time, although they never actually opened. She is surrounded by cards, family photos and flowers.