I've ridden past here on a bike a couple of times, on the London bike-a-thon.
I knew you were a keen cyclist, but I didn't realise you went in for bike-a-thons.
Oh yes. I've done London to Brighton by bike, and London to Paris. I raised twenty thousand pounds doing London to Paris.
Wow! Good for you! What charity did you raise it for?
The Royal Marsden.
Why - because of Megan?
Well, actually, strangely enough, I'd already started raising money for the Marsden before that. We had a schoolteacher at my previous school whose daughter was in the Marsden. So it was quite odd in a way. I went to the Royal Marsden to present them with this money; and they got me to have a look round the ward while I was there, which was quite difficult actually - quite emotional. Then two years later I was back on the same ward with Megan.
What happened to the other child? The schoolteacher's daughter?
She died, unfortunately.
A grey oblong courtyard, overlooked by the back windows of other buildings.
City courtyards like this always remind me of a description from Dickens - I can't remember which book it's in - it might be Dombey and Son - but he describes a courtyard hidden away up an alley, in the middle of London, exactly like this. One or two trees, which look as if they only just get enough daylight and rain to keep them alive.
These trees don't look too bad.
They're not exactly thick with foliage, though, are they? And I imagine the atmosphere would have been much sootier and smoggier in Dickens' day.
The walls of the church look pretty dingy. There's a particular dirty grey you get on stone facades in London, isn't there? All streaky-looking where the rain runs down the walls. Like a crying woman with her mascara running down her face.
You've obviously spent more time with crying women than I have.
Well, women usually start crying pretty much as soon as they see me.
What's Betjeman got to say about this one?
He says the Portland stone steeple of diminishing octagons, ending in a spirelet, is like a ring of bells. How poetic of him.
It is very pretty though, isn't it?
He also says it's by Wren, but it was bombed during the war and the interior was given a makeover by someone called Mr Godfrey Allen.
I expect he disapproves of the makeover.
Well, he doesn't actually say so in plain language, but I think that's his general drift.
Good old Sir John.
You know where you stand with him, don't you? If it's new, he doesn't like it. Shall we go in?
Panels and pillars of biscuit brown wood. White-and-gold arches.
Quite a few people here.
It's rather like a bank, isn't it?
Like a college chapel, I would have said.
But if you put sheets of perspex across these gaps between the pillars... cashiers on one side, customers on the other... some of those black biros attached to the counter-tops by bobbly silver chains, and some paying-in slips in transparent plastic holders... it'd be just like an old-fashioned bank or Post Office.
I can see what you mean, but I quite like it. I like these oval windows in the vault.
Yes, I like those too. They make the middle of the church seem very light and airy. What is that squashed down oval shape, though? Isn't there a special name for it? Isn't it an ogee or something?
No, I don't think that's an ogee. I think an ogee is a kind of S-shape.
Is it? I always thought it was an oval. I'll have to look it up when I get home.
That bit of stained glass in the top of the altar-piece.
It looks out of place, doesn't it?
A bit too modern and groovy, you mean.
I bet Sir John Betjeman took a dim view of that.
I bet he did. Let's see... Oh yes, here we are. A Wren-style altar-piece, into which is inserted a vesica of stained glass which does not look well in the woodwork.
Good old Sir John!
What on earth is a vesica?
One of those things, presumably. A rugby-ball shape.
That's something else I ought to look up when I get home. I'll never remember, though.
Have you noticed these name-plates on the seats?
No, I hadn't.
They're all journalists, or connected with journalism. This is the journalists' church.
Why? Because it's in Fleet Street?
Yes - although most of the papers have moved their offices elsewhere now, I think.
So, we've seen the actors' church, the RAF church, and now the journalists' church, all in one day.
Yes. All within walking distance of each other, too. That's the City of London for you.
Look at this! Wynkyn de Worde, the first printer in Fleet Street, died 1535. I thought Caxton was the first printer.
So did I. Perhaps Caxton didn't work in Fleet Street.
What a name, though! Wynkyn de Worde! Fancy being a printer, and being called Wynkyn de Worde! He must have made that name up, surely.
I hadn't noticed these glass doors at the West end of the church before. Sir John Betjemen would most definitely not have approved of these.
No, he wouldn't. They really do make the place seem like a bank, don't they?
Extremely banklike. Oh, wait a minute, that's my mobile. Excuse me while I answer this. It's probably Megan, calling to say how she got on.