For the first few years of my life, I lived at number 47 where there was (and still is) a door thing (there’s more on that here, at Number 47 ). Cleverly, my parents made a game of it. Thus, I would stand commandingly in front of doors at home and shout ‘Open Sesame!’ and when those doors did open (seemingly otherwise unaided), I was able to believe in the power of magic and that, somehow, I’d made that magic happen. Some might say my parents were setting me up for a fall. For sure, those came later. But I did learn a valuable lesson: faith over fear. I trusted in magic and respected the unknown. I believed. It worked.
Years later, I discovered ‘Open House’ in London (http://www.openhouseworldwide.org ) where the magic came from a built environment previously unseen – something everyone was totally free to experience. I posted about my most recent visit, on 20 and 21 September last year, in Testing Times. Then, this year, came my introduction to ‘Open Doors’. I’d heard of this project before, but not been fortunate enough to be around when and where it was taking place.
This past weekend – the last weekend of September – ‘Ανοικτες Πόρτες’ (Open Doors – European Heritage Days) reminded me, once again, of my childhood wonder. It was my pleasure and privilege to be able to volunteer for Rhodes Riches (http://www.rhodesriches.org) here in Rhodes, Greece. The local theme this year was ‘Divine Heritage – The three religions in Rhodes: Christianity, Judaism and Islam’. For two days, the NGO, in co-operation with the relevant authorities, opened the doors of four churches, two mosques and the synagogue to all who were interested to visit (and quite a few curious passers-by). At the same time, the organization celebrated its fifth birthday, so it was only fitting that visitor totals broke records: together with the longer-term exhibition at the Kastellania, the venues totalled 28,109 visitors over the weekend.
Behind closed doors, a close-knit team of people had worked tirelessly to prepare this event. Once those doors were opened, sponsors, volunteers and visitors came together to make it work. The storms came along, the rain came down, the sun came out; regardless, the visitors just kept coming in. I spent Saturday afternoon at the Mosque of Suleyman the Magnificent and Sunday afternoon at the Kastellania exhibition ‘The Talented Dr Hedenborg’. I met many people from around the world and many locals. It was a joy to experience their wonder as well as my own. We can all believe in the power of magic and that, together, we make it happen. Open sesame!
I was fortunate enough to be in town for Open House London (20 – 22 September this year) as the event celebrated its 21st birthday. Victoria Thornton started the architectural party in 1992, when 20 buildings agreed to open their doors to the public for free. In 2013, more than 800 buildings took part in London alone, with the concept now taken on by 20 other cities worldwide. Spoiled for choice, the first place I visited was the City of London School for boys (I was staying in the City), where I spent a surprisingly (to me) long time in the sidings with the Model Railway Society and also came across a display of old exam papers by the tea urn. Here’s a sample. Testing times, indeed.
– By the way, I feel quite deeply that vulgar fractions and terminated decimals have been too long ignored. Just a thought…