A big Plate of Sideorders – Up the Anglican: Of Religion, old and new, and of looking down

When I woke up, morning had broken. It had also taken over the world with full force and knocked on my window for a few hours with its strongest beams, desperately trying to wake me up, and when it had grown tired of waiting for me, it had passed entirely.

I peeled my vegetable self out of bed and hauled it on the chair before the laptop. In garish colours, the chat programme spat the newest chunk of information into my face. Melli shared her idea of climbing the tower of the Anglican Cathedral at 12 sharp. A fine plan in my eyes. Until I checked the time. I had but twenty minutes.

(…)

“You would have so totally liked that, Paul!” said Rick. “See, while you were in London, fussing around with the Queen and stuff, we were like at the most boring place possible yesterday.”

“West Derby Park actually”, remarked Melli, whose idea it had been.

“Well, howsoever. It´s not worth to remember it and not to go there either. I mean, it´s not your fault, Melli, you were told that it was totally extraordinary! And that makes this other person the villain, see? So, we wandered around this absolutely boring park, and there was absolutely nothing that looked somehow adorable. So, we thought about leaving, but you know – somehow we were already there and that creates a problem and, see, anyway, then suddenly Bene and Andi here figured out that it was a totally druidic place.”

Spinal Tapish druidic I presume?” asked I. “Hello, Cleveland!”

“Yeah, exactly!” Rick chortled. “Like with Stonehenge and stuff.”

“Which was in danger of being crushed by dwarfs”, added Bene.

“Because, you know”, said Rick. “The guys loved the movie, too!”

“We did”, said Bene with an air of sincerity. “And you must know, Paul, it´s the truth, everything they show there, every minor detail. You see, we have this band of ours and…”

“…and we have been through all this ourselves”, added Andi with an equally straight face.

“Of course you were.” I nodded. “I guess it´s just inevitable, isn´t it?”

“It´s the fate of our profession”, said Andi.

“You are all so stupid”, Rick interrupted giggling. “So, Paul, listen, stick to the topic, man! We were in this Derby Park, or Shnerby Park or I don´t care what, and they started running to things and stuff and said they were completely druidic? And that it must have been a special druidic place in total. And they started doing all these rituals? Like they put wood, like sticks in pentagrams and stuff. Right, Urte? That was quite fun, wasn´t it?”

“Oh, yes, it was!” Urte answered joyfully. She looked gorgeous as usual, and considerably less sleepy than I did. “And they moved very funny.”

“Lige thiz,” said Agnes and waved her arms in uncontrollable snakelike patterns, performing an odd magic dance.

“Göhöhö! Well done!” shouted Rick. “She´s good. A real druid. It´s a shame you were not there, Paul!”

“It very much is”, I agreed.

We entered the gigantic central nave. The Anglican was sure imposing, one of Europe´s biggest churches. Finished only thirty years ago, it looked like a true classic goth: high, slim, dark and somewhat dangerous. We tilted our heads back, up to the ceiling. Through the stained glass windows fell some wan day, but you wandered in twilight, with all these mystical figures staring from their walls, sending their silent curses into your back. A place you could feel the spirit of worship, an overpowering vast space of megalomaniacal grandeur.

For a small mite, we were allowed to make our way up. A long way it would be. I got ready for some serious sport. And then after a couple of stairs our path ended in front of a lift.

“An elevator?” I was surprised. “Weren´t we supposed to climb this church? Isn´t that a bit of cheating?”

“And aren´t you just hiding that you wouldn´t make it up all the way just on foot?” answered Rick. “Get in there, and wait for us when the lift stops.” And he mad-grimaced, mirrored by his friends, and the doors closed, with the two visitors, Urte and me on the inside.

The lift did not reach the top of the tower. Instead, we came into a high hall, with the free stone stairs protruding into open space. My knees shivered. There was no bloody way the stone underneath my feet would crumble down into the abyss, I knew that, yet I still felt it sag. In front of my inner eye I saw a hologram of a winged Mr. Heller jump off the stone railing into the hall. “Paul, you need to try this!” he laughed hysterically. And then he plunged into the depth and splashed onto the ground, and I almost closed my eyes and pushed forward.

Finally we entered the platform atop the Cathedral, and – as it felt – the top of the world. Deep below us lay Liverpool, in all its grayish grace and beauty, with the entire flat world circling around it. We were indeed in giddy heights. And it really did not help much that it was windy like hell. My new fancy Scottish style hat, which I had bought in Covent Gardens and had taken to love very much, was in high danger of being blown away. We all stood close and shielded each other from the frosty gusts, pointing to places we recognized and places we had not yet conquered. We saw the shopping malls of downtown, the cranes, the endless building sites, the TV city tower, my hotel, and even Birkenhead. And over there the docks, in all their monumentality, and on the other side of the tower was the Metropolitan, this weird spaceship, and here, not that far off, was Agnes Jones, and I waved and had myself mentally transported back to my bed for a few seconds.

The meandering rivers under my plane, miles apart from where I am. I know they´re moving, in constant flow, irresistible, and still they look still, like a drawn line in the middle of similarly motionless land. It´s my first flight. The police that checked my passport gave me a suspicious look. Nervous? they asked. I´m high, on the run, in a dream, and everything else stays below.

Salt in my nostrils. Wind on my skin.

It took some time but it finally happened. It was strange how I lost the feeling of ridiculous height while watching out for a world that changed its appearance, how Liverpool lost its fearsome visage. From up here, it looked very calm, as if sleeping, the people´s humble dreams being breathed from its chimney tops, some of these dreams losing themselves in the vastness of a world that did not revolve as fast as it sometimes appeared down there. I soaked in the cool air instead of standing only against it. Another perspective. A new approach. That´s what I needed. This was the place I was to live at for the next few months, it was my circumstance, and it was the place I would make mine, in some kind of way; that was the new idea of the moment. Something in the Mersey breath told me so. And I looked around me, saw the others and felt adventurous and fresh and ready for more.

“We liked everything, especially all the druid stuff”, wrote Bene into the church´s guestbook. Andi painted a crazy logo underneath, which hardly meant anything but sure looked intriguing. And in the process, Hana and the Franconians decided that the newly formed group was to be called the Liverpool Association of Druids, LAD, and we all loved it.

“Guys, by the way, did you bring Rick his nasal cream?” I asked when we left the cathedral.

“Heck, are we good friends or what?” Andi grinned and looked at Bene.

I retorted, “I´m asking this decisive question to find out just that.”

“Rick, are we good friends?” asked Bene.

“You´re the best friends a man with a serious nose defect may ask for!”

“There you go”, said Andi proudly.

“Good”, I said. “He was begging for it.”

“Don’t make fun of my nose problem! It´s quite an issue.”

“Not anymore”, said Andi. “It was quite an issue.”

“Yeah, because you got such awesome friends”, said Bene and they all put their arms around each other.

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