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Susan M Phillips

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Member Since: Dec, 2001

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Building blogs - Coventry revisited
12/17/2003 2:29:11 PM    [ Flag as Inappropriate ]

When people say they want to visit my favourite places, they'd better have their listening heads on ... or a good sturdy pair of ear plugs.

I'm off to Coventry tomorrow to meet fellow author Peter Benson and his wife Karen who are over from the US for a few days. Karen has made the mistake of allowing Peter to tell me that she wishes to visit Coventry Cathedral, one of my absolute favourite buildings.

The foundation stone was laid when I was just one year old [we're talking about the NEW cathedral here, not the old gothic one that was destroyed during the blitz] and was consecrated when I was seven. Because we lived in Coventry and my mother did most of her shopping in the city centre, I watched it being built for most of my early childhood years. I clearly recall seeing the statue of St Michael and the Devil being hoisted into place by cranes, watching breathlessly as they were positioned and fixed. We stayed longer than usual that day, just marvelling at what was happening.

A visit to the cathedral site was an integral part of our weekly trip and was followed by a wait for the bus on Broadgate - a large circular road nearby, in the centre of which stood a bronze statue of Lady Godiva, considered the saviour of the city because of her noble act of charity around a thousand years ago. Her husband, Earl Leofric owned the city and taxed his people heavily. One year the harvest was particularly bad and after the earl had taken his share of the crop in taxation, the people knew there would not be enough left to keep them from starving until the next year. They went to Godiva and asked her to intercede on their behalf, which she did.

Leofric was not sympathetic, and would not lower the taxes, even though she begged him to be merciful. At length he jokingly said that if she would ride naked through the city, he would allow the citizens to pay no taxes for a year. Godiva promptly agreed and sent word to the people of the bargain, asking that everyone should be indoors with the windows shuttered so that she could make the ride with no loss of dignity. With just one exception the grateful citizens all complied and Godiva rode her pure white horse through empty streets. As she passed by the house of a man called Thomas, he could not resist the chance to see her ladyship unclothed and peeked out of his upstairs window, upon which he was struck blind. He was the original peeping Tom and saw nothing more for the rest of his life.

As we waited for our bus I loved to watch the clock high on the wall behind us strike one,  when mechanical figures would appear. The naked Lady Godiva would ride out on her white horse, travel across the front of the clock and disappear the other side as a shutterd window above would open and Peeping Tom would peek out on her. Peeping Tom's window shutters were embellished with the Leofric coat of arms, perhaps insinuating that he had been employed the Earl to make sure she kept her side of the bargain.

Of course, this is the stuff of legend, there is no written record of the ride and it may be that the Horse worship tradition, widespread in the midlands during pagan times, has got mixed up with tales of this lady's good works. She and Leofric built Coventry's first cathedral [in all Coventry has had three] and she was known for her charity and kindness to the poor. The legend is a powerful one, though and the clock and statue can still be seen. Sadly the statue has been moved from its central location - which angered many of the city's natives - and placed in a structure that looks like a plastic marquee, ostensibly to protect it from the weather.

Our bus stop was next to a tall pole surmounted by a golden elephant with a castle on its back - Coventry's emblem - that was also on the milestone close to our home on the very fringe of the city with a farm and open countryside directly opposite our front garden. Nobody has ever explained to me why an English midland city should have such an exotic animal in its emblem, but it did look very beautiful. I'm still very partial to elephants now - though I couldn't eat a whole one.

Yes indeed - I've got enough memories to bore them both witless 8o)



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More Blogs by Susan M Phillips
• Interrogating Ali - an interview with percussionist Ali McMillan - Wednesday, September 21, 2011
• Change of continent? - Wednesday, August 03, 2011
• Book Launched - Saturday, July 02, 2011
• Green Living, Sacred Life launch Sat. 2nd July Nuneaton, UK - Monday, June 27, 2011
• Correction to last blog - Monday, March 21, 2011
• Nearly there - Saturday, March 12, 2011
• Happy New Year - Wednesday, December 29, 2010
• Lost a castle, found a forest - Friday, April 09, 2010
• I found my category! - Thursday, April 08, 2010
• New category needed - Wednesday, April 07, 2010
• Raising money to help the homeless and vulnerably housed - Saturday, January 30, 2010
• Happy New Year - Thursday, December 31, 2009
• Making History - Wednesday, December 23, 2009
• Change of direction - Thursday, December 17, 2009
• French sojurn - Monday, September 21, 2009
• My poem is going into print - Wednesday, September 02, 2009
• new profile, new photo - Thursday, August 27, 2009
• From sprinting to spinning - Thursday, August 20, 2009
• Sprinting to stand still - Friday, August 14, 2009
• The tortuous route from idea to bookshelf - Wednesday, July 29, 2009
• Terror Scibes Rise Again - Saturday, March 07, 2009
• Happy new year - Thursday, January 01, 2009
• Chritsmas Blog - where's the dictionary? - Monday, December 22, 2008
• Off to Oxford Dance Camp - Thursday, July 31, 2008
• Friends and Gravy - Saturday, July 19, 2008
• Phew - Thursday, May 08, 2008
• missing but still alive - Thursday, April 17, 2008
• Poetry to Form - Sunday, April 13, 2008
• So much to tell, so little time - Sunday, March 30, 2008
• Why the Shrew Had to be Tamed - Monday, March 24, 2008
• Happy Easter William Shakespeare - Saturday, March 22, 2008
• Rock 'n Roll and Education - Wednesday, March 19, 2008
• About that titling experiment...and the other surprise - Saturday, March 15, 2008
• Surprises just seem to happen - Friday, March 14, 2008
• A day in the life of a domestic goddess - Sunday, March 09, 2008
• Blogless - Saturday, March 08, 2008
• Rose Tinted Billows - Tuesday, March 04, 2008
• Aaaaaaaah! - Monday, March 03, 2008
• And today is....... - Thursday, February 28, 2008
• Chocolate Liquor - Thursday, February 21, 2008
• Dogs more interesting than cats? - Wednesday, February 13, 2008
• Titling Experiment - Monday, February 11, 2008
• phhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhew - Sunday, February 10, 2008
• head shock - Sunday, February 10, 2008
• Prosody and page stats - Tuesday, February 05, 2008
• Warrior Camp Episode 2 - Tuesday, August 07, 2007
• Frogs, Fireside Shrews and Earth Toilets at Warior Camp - Sunday, June 10, 2007
• New Computer, clean slate - Saturday, December 30, 2006
• Forgot to mention - Tuesday, November 28, 2006
• I'm Back - Monday, November 27, 2006
• Seasons Greetings - Saturday, December 24, 2005
• Fame is as fame does... - Tuesday, August 02, 2005
• Fame ? - Friday, January 14, 2005
• Sue Phillips Invites..... - Sunday, August 15, 2004
• Brainless but well booted - Friday, January 23, 2004
• Highs and Lows - Tuesday, January 06, 2004
• The Christmas Question Many Parents Dread - Monday, December 22, 2003
•  Building blogs - Coventry revisited - Wednesday, December 17, 2003  
• Blogged Down - Saturday, December 13, 2003
• Smoke Blog - Sunday, December 07, 2003
• Blogging on - Tuesday, November 25, 2003
• Tangled Webs - Sunday, November 16, 2003
• Dream Scenes revisited - Sunday, November 09, 2003
• Fire works - Saturday, November 01, 2003


Westfall by Arthur Jackson

A fast paced action thriller out of todays headlines. The conflict between fundamentalist, from science and religion, boils to the surface in the fictional town of Westfall, as it ..  
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