‘We are our stories, stories that can be both prison and the crowbar to break open the door of that prison; we make stories to save ourselves or to trap ourselves or others, stories that lift us up or smash us against the stone wall of our own limits and fears. Liberation is always in part a storytelling process: breaking stories, breaking silences, making new stories.’
Rebecca Solnit, ‘Silence Is Broken’, in ‘The Mother of All Questions’ (07/03/2017).
As seen today on the rear wall of a house in the Dutch Quarter, backing on to Colchester Castle Park, Essex. A feast for the eyes and food for thought.
My GP (general practitioner, or family doctor) is based at Durlston House, or number 18 North Hill, Colchester. I have a long connection to North Hill, perhaps longer than I realise, specifically number 47 with its key place in my personal history.
Number 18 lies on the east side of North Hill and has its own stories to tell, of course. It was given Grade II listed status in 1950 – recognising its late 16th-century structure with Georgian facade and its 18th-century oriel window over the central doorcase. Yet earlier, in the 19th-century, Roman tessellated paving and medieval walling had been discovered in the back garden.
There are exposed wooden beams throughout the house, perhaps the most eye-catching of which are in the north room downstairs, now the surgery waiting room. Here, the walls are covered with public health notices, an electronic screen flashes the names of patients, doctors, and rooms, and the obligatory leisure magazines sit, neglected, on a corner table.
If those waiting (sometimes) patiently only look up to the beams, they can see there painted inscriptions. The medical practice has thoughtfully transcribed, printed out and framed them as a poster for the patient to read and make of what they will. Here, as so often in life (and medicine), there is no explanation.
I have loved this building since I was a young child and as soon as I discovered the name of its architect, I elevated Sir Christopher Wren to the rank of hero. This view is taken from the Cheapside approach, but the Ludgate Hill aspect works as well for me.
The church of St Mary of the Castle (Our Lady of the Castle) faces up Ippoton (the Street of the Knights) in Rhodes Old Town. Now a museum, it has had an interesting past. It dates back to the eleventh century, when it was the Greek Orthodox Cathedral of Rhodes. By 1322 (when it was mentioned in a Papal Bull of Pope John XXII), it had become the Roman Catholic Cathedral of St Mary. After 1522, the building was used for Islamic worship as the ‘Enderum Cami’.
I visited recently, alone in the building apart from an attendant in heated discussion with her mother on the phone. The structure has both a light and airy aspect, and an air of peace and calm (despite the best efforts of said attendant). It wasn’t my first time visiting and won’t be my last – the place appeals to me. To mark St George’s Day, I took these two photographs of the work of unattributed seventeenth century artists.
Rhodes, Greece, 14 April 2018.
A corner of the fourth century BC Temple of Apollo, as reconstructed by Italian archaeologists in the early twentieth century, shrouded in twenty-first century scaffolding.
My two terrierists, Zoe and Frank, captured beautifully (and adeptly) in a rare still moment by Tori Andrews
Image: © Tori Andrews