London: the intricate, rented world: Charing Cross and Trafalgar Square: traffic and pedestrians.

Yes, I have read it. Can I just express one word of caution? You would be well advised to incorporate some form of saleback arrangement for a later date. Saleback. To yourself. Otherwise things might get difficult. I can't be more explicit at the moment. Can I call you this evening?

Assertive white stone cutting the blue air. Black railings, steps, massive pillars.

Yeah, I just got off the train. I'm in Trafalgar Square. No, it wasn't too bad. I got a seat. I had to sit next to this woman, though, she must've been the throat-clearing champion of all England. Hmm. HERK-hmm. HERK HERK-hmm. Every time anyone made the slightest noise, she twisted right round and stared at them. She'd got these horrible bulging eyes. I think she must've been completely bonkers.

The yowling of an angle-grinder. Then dark wood, white-and-gold ceiling, organ music.

Wow, they've really done this place up since the last time I was here. It seemed much more shabby and shadowy.

I like this wide aisle.

I don't remember that window at the far end. That's a bit wierd, isn't it?

I think it's very effective.

Yes, I suppose it is. It's kind of like a crucifix, but wonky.

Very striking.

I'm sure they've re-done all the paintwork, though. That gilding. And the woodwork looks smarter than I remember, too. And last time I came, I think I was probably the only person here.

Nice of them to lay on an organ recital for us.

Very considerate. I love these semi-circles just inside the windows. I wonder how they got them so smooth? Are they just made out of plaster? That must be really difficult.

Somebody's been told off.

What do you mean?

There was a man asleep on one of the pews, lying on his side. Somebody's just tapped him on the shoulder.

Was it the Vicar?

I don't think so. A man in a suit.

Oy mate, get your feet off the woodwork. This place is for praying, not sleeping.

I don't know what he said to him, but he got up and left.

I thought this church was meant to support the homeless.

Perhaps he wasn't homeless.

Just pretending, you mean? For the sake of a quiet kip? Oy, mate, don't I know you? You're not homeless at all! You've got a semi-detached in Finsbury Park! Your wife's in a book club!... What are those baskets of rushes doing in front of the altar?

It was Palm Sunday yesterday.

Palm Sunday! The church calendar! - Palm Sunday, Ash Wednesday, Good Friday - Epiphany, Lent, Whitsun, All Hallows, Michaelmas, Advent - antiquated, mysterious and forbidding.

Here's Owen.


Hallo Owen.

Hallo, Dad. How's Megan?

She's fine. Absolutely fine.

Is today her appointment?

Yes, but not until this afternoon.

Is she nervous about it?

No, she doesn't seem to be. Your mother and I get nervous, not Megan. But I don't expect any dramatic developments today, in any case. They might recommend another investigation, or they might want to refer her on, you know, to another specialist. Nothing much is going to happen today, I don't think.

Okay, Owen, what have you got to tell us about this place?

Well, I'd have a lot more to tell you if I'd done my homework properly. Unfortunately I haven't had time to prepare in any depth. It was built by James Gibbs in the 1720s. He was actually a Roman Catholic, but I think he kept it secret, and he'd actually been to Italy, unlike some of the best-known architects of the era. Wren never got any further than France, and Hawksmoor never left Britain. So this place is very influenced by Italian architecture.

Is it? I was just thinking it seemed very English.

Well, the exterior...

Oh yes. Well, it's got that whacking great front porch on it, with all those pillars.

Yes. Corinthian columns, and a triangular pediment, very classical, and steps leading up on three sides. Apparently he wasn't originally allowed as much land as he wanted, so he put the portico and steps into the design, and made them a major feature of the building, so that it couldn't really be built without it, and they had to give him the extra land.

Very clever.


These windows are Gibbs windows. You see the way they're framed?

You mean those kind of in-and-out bricks?

Yes. That's like his signature, and if you see a building of the period with windows like that, then you know it's a Gibbs building. Quite a clever idea, to have a particular way of putting your identity on a piece of architecture. This structure here is a kind of skylight for the crypt area. It's in the form of two overlapping circles, and apparently they discovered that this was the best shape for letting light into a space from above.

What's this lettering round the edge? Oh - Andrew Motion.

I think they've been very bold in the way they've extended the site - because the temptation is to pastiche the original building. But they've referenced eighteenth century architecture without trying to mimic it.

That thing down the far end looks like the middle bit of the Tardis.

That's a staircase and a lift. Shall we go down?

More people downstairs than in the church. Low smooth ceilings, a big splash of pale daylight from above.

It's a bit like an airport, isn't it? I don't like that shop at the far end. You might as well be in W H Smith's.

There's a conference room here, underneath the skylight...

Oh yes, that's nice.

And there's a rehearsal room through there, which has evidently been engineered to exactly duplicate the acoustics in the church. Very difficult to do.

It must have cost them millions and millions.

I imagine it must have done. They had to dig out the whole of this area, obviously.

Did it all belong to the church already, this bit?

I believe it was a crypt area, and they had to remove...

Lots of dead bodies?

Well, yes, I think there probably were quite a lot of dead bodies to remove.

I bet the whole place was swarming with rats and cockroaches, just like an Indiana Jones film. Except, instead of Indiana Jones you've got some sweaty builder with his jeans halfway down his bum.

I expect they kept their trouser-bottoms tucked firmly into their socks.

Yeah, too right. You don't want a rat or a cockroach up your trouserleg.

Shall we have a look at the cafe in the crypt?

I've been in here before. Oh, this is really busy. When I came in here before, it was just me and about three other people.

This has got a much more subterranean feel. The lighting... seems to have more of a glow... much more like lamplight.

Yeah, and all these arches and pillars everywhere. All Mediaeval, I take it. It's just much more interesting, isn't it? That bit out there is a bit generic twentieth-century, a bit smooth and bland, a bit airportish.

But I do think the way they've extended the site has been very bold. I like the fact that there are these completely different styles of architecture alongside each other. They haven't tried to blend them all in, they've kept the contrasts. One step can carry you hundreds of years.

Like time-travel! So perhaps that stairway really is meant to look like the Tardis.