Thursday, 14 July 2016

Blob Thing In Durham - Disappointment in a Cathedral, Life By a River

It was the third of June.  Blob Thing is interested by that.  It's not because it's a particularly interesting date in his life, some special anniversary.  It's because this is his 42nd post on his blog and the 2nd post was about his adventure on the fourth of June.  Forty posts later, forty days later, and he has gone back in time by one day.  Today Blob is starting to write about his adventure that happened on the day he began his blog with that brief introduction.   It seems quite funny to him that he's right back at the beginning.  It seems astounding to him that he has had so many varied adventures since that beginning, so much that he wants to share with you.

At this point of course, Blob's person wants to butt in and tell the world that forty is the only number in English in which the letters are in alphabetical order.  She likes having useless information like that in her head.  Blob has decided not to let her butt in at this point.  He has an adventure to start telling you about.

On the third of June Blob's person decided that they could go and visit Durham.  She had only been there once since moving to the North-East.  She had been with her parents.  They moaned about the place and she had a nasty cold at the time so it hadn't been the most enjoyable of days.  It was time to go back and start to learn what Durham could offer.

The two friends arrived in Durham and walked from the bus station to the river along a street that contained a large number of charity shops.  Already Durham had something to offer them and they hadn't even reached the river.  They crossed the river - Blob's person taking photos but forgetting to take photos of Blob.  Poor Blob.  And they walked up the hill to the Cathedral.  Blob's person had decided to begin to explore the tourist attractions of Durham and the cathedral is the most famous.  She took photos of the outside of the cathedral.  Again, she forgot that Blob might want to have his picture taken.  Poor Blob.

Blob's person wasn't very good at remembering then.  After all, Blob didn't have a blog.  He had suggested starting one.  His creator had suggested starting one.  But his person had been quite reticent about the idea.  She had got used to the idea of taking a small pink soft toy out with her.  She had got used to the idea of taking a picture of that small pink soft toy sometimes to share with his creator.  And she had even dedicated a blog post to that small pink soft toy, just because it amused her and it would make Blob's creator smile or even laugh.

But a blog for Blob?  That seemed to be a step too far.  By the third of June she had come round to the idea.  And that night Blob would sit with her and together they would write something.  But they had no idea that his blog would take on its own life and Blob's person had no idea that Blob would have so many opinions to express about every aspect of life.  In all honesty she can't fathom how a small pink soft toy could ever act or speak in such a manner.  Nevertheless, that's what he does.

Blob entered the cathedral with his person.  She had decided that he could be photographed there.  But to their dismay there were lots of signs telling them that photography in the cathedral was completely forbidden.  And at every point there were men and women standing there who would have rapidly stopped them from taking any pictures.  They know that the good people of Durham Cathedral would much rather have people buy postcards than take their own pictures.  They know that much of the energy and finance running of a Cathedral has to go to the upkeep of an old building rather than the upkeep of the church that Jesus talked about - that is, the people.  They know too that the cathedral is first and foremost a place of Christian worship, not a museum.  And they know that dozens of people wandering round taking photos, especially if they forgot to turn the flash off, would be distracting for the faithful.

It was a great disappointment though.  A postcard would be a pretty picture.  But it wouldn't be a personal picture, a personal link with a place known as the House of God.  More importantly it would just be a picture of stone and glass.   Pretty, but not living.  Blob had dearly wanted to have pictures of himself inside the cathedral.  He felt very sad about it and wanted to cry.  Given how much Blob smiles every day, given how happy he is, that is a profound statement.  In the house of God, the place where life should be most celebrated, he could only take away pictures of stone rather than pictures of life or of freedom.  Of course he didn't cry outwardly.  As far as we know, Blob Thing is physiologically unable to cry real tears.  Inside though he felt the tears rising up and he just wanted to get out of that cathedral as quickly as he could.

At that point Blob hated cathedrals.  He hated churches.  And he hated an organisation that could even conceive of turning life into death.  He's relaxed about it now and recently was very pleased to visit another cathedral - St. Nicholas in Newcastle Upon Tyne - and to have had his picture taken there.  In that cathedral he even made some friends.  Blob will tell you about that on another day.

Blob and his person left the cathedral.  She hadn't liked it much either.  And to be honest her parents hadn't liked it either on their trip several years before.  The outside was pretty though and Blob walked through the grounds and then had a thought.  He said to his person, "It's lunchtime, where shall we eat?"  Blob's person agreed that lunch would be nice and they started to walk back down the hill.  There were lots of cafes but they all seemed quite expensive and were all quite crowded.  They passed the place that Blob's person had eaten in with her parents - a little upstairs cafe run by the Salvation Army.  That was somewhere worth returning to if they didn't find somewhere else.  It was quiet and it was cheap.

Then, further down the hill, they stumbled on a little sign pointing into a building.  It said cafe, but nobody was going in and Blob said they should go in and see what was there.  It was a good choice.

This is the cafe in Alington House.  It was quiet.  The person at the counter was friendly and helpful.  The only other customers were friendly.  Blob liked it.  It's true that the menu for the day was extremely limited.  But that was fine.  There was something for Blob and his person to eat.  It was cheap though.  Blob says that he wants to reproduce the menu in full:

Cheese and onion toastie:  £1
Cheese and ham toastie:  £1
Ham and onion toastie:  £1

That was the menu.  Blob's person would have been happy with any of those choices but decided to be a little cheeky and ask for something that wasn't on the menu:  A cheese, ham, and onion toastie.  When it arrived it was very tasty indeed.  A large mug of tea completed the meal for an extra fifty pence.  They were both happy to have found the cafe in Alington House.

Here's Blob in the cafe, posing with his person's noise cancelling headphones.  You can tell that he's radiating joy again, the sadness of the cathedral having been left behind.  He is a wonderful Blob.

Alington House seems to be a good place.  If you want to know more about it, here's the website.  It's a community charity in Durham.  The website says this:

We target work with groups that face disadvantage, including economic, social and educational disadvantages. We promote the celebration of difference through single gender work, asylum seeker and refugee work, and working with other marginalised groups.

We offer training to unemployed residents in the deprived Durham Coalfields area and work on an outreach basis to offer volunteering roles to those in need.

We have rooms available to hire for local community groups, good causes, and sympathetic organisations.

Blob and his person left the cafe and decided they wanted to walk by the River Wear.  They knew that the old town of Durham, including the cathedral, was built on a hill nearly surrounded by a bend in the river that nearly passed through a full circle.  So they could walk from one bridge along the river and right round the bend to another bridge.

It was quiet by the river and very pretty indeed.  Blob was very glad they were there.  It felt a lot closer to God, to spirit, to life than the Cathedral had.  The water and the trees were much more a temple than that place of worship had been.  They were free and the Cathedral had felt like a dark prison.  Blob knows that there are people who love the Cathedral, people who would be shocked by his words.  But he thinks about God, whatever that concept may mean.  It may be the wonder of the fullness of being or an actual person in the sky like the religious people keep claiming.  Whatever the case, Blob knows that God cannot be contained in a building.  God is life and there is more life in the movement of the water, the wind through the trees, the creatures that surround us, and the cycles of birth and decay, than there ever could be in the shapes of stone that humans create.  No matter how impressive those shapes are - and Durham Cathedral is impressive - they are nothing compared to the life outside them.

So to close, a couple of photos of Blob and the river.  The first was taken from the bridge before Blob climbed down the steps to the water's edge.  The second was taken soon after that.  Blob will tell you more about his day tomorrow, how much he enjoyed the river and then how he found something for his person to wildly enjoy.  She wants to blog about the day too.  Blob has reminded her about how good it was and she's been looking at all the photos she took, of the place Blob said she should go and explore.

[Holy crap.  1831 words, excluding the bit from the website.  Good grief.  This is getting ridiculous.]

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