It’s a bit of an irritation, Coventry Cathedral. Basil Spence’s stones and glass are fine, the wee Lady chapel is lovely as is the Sutherland Tapestry; the fine cut-glass windows and doors display an industrial precision well-suited to the former car town; it is a wholly fine, inspirational place, the new cathedral, in which to hear Kraftwerk and probably Handel’s Messiah, too, although I never did. It’s the old, ruined, roofless Saint Michael’s, next door, that’s a pisser.
Where the mediaeval altar stood is a cross of charred timbers from the old ceiling and some lettering, Father Forgive.
I suppose it’s fair enough, that being the central message of Christianity, it’s just seems so presumptious to assume, as the Cathedral did and does, that the entire, blitzed, city population, then and now, forgives Herman for the firestorm he dropped on their heads. Organised Christians, clergypersons and pacifist groups always assume that their umbrella of often nauseating piety shelters all, and these brain-dead motherfuckers have become the official voice of
Blitz, The Burning of Coventry, BBC 2, tonight, took a more secular view. Talking heads, children or young adults as the bombs fell, related their experience of bombardment, emtombment, terror and bereavement, one of them explaining how it was decades after the loss of his father and the disfigurement of his mother that he let go of his hatred, another
wept astonished tears, nearly seventy years on.
It was a quiet programme, missionary in its own way, observing that Herman sure kicked up a shitstorm with his Luftwaffe’s policy of Coventration; 500 odd souls perished in the blitzing of Coventry, 35,000 in Dresden and 50,000 in Hamburg; such a perfect day, you’re gonna reap just what you sow.
There were no comic-book heroes here, save for attempts made by bumbling politicians, just ordinary people, eventually acting heroically. And not a counsellor in sight.
If it’s on again, try to watch it. In honour of a population gone down in Ruin’s flood.