Mike's Birthday Celebrations

13th Sept 2003

Mike invited friends and family to meet at the Ten Bells pub in Spitalfields, London. It's time to celebrate his birthday. He's asked some nice fun people to join us. Even the Aussies are OK!
The pub has some notoriety: this is where several of Jack the Ripper's victims were last seen alive.
Next door to the pub is Christ Church.

"My grandfather, your aunt's father, was curate there in the 1930's." I mention to Mike.

"Really?" he says, walking away to greet a friend.

"Yes," I continue, speaking with my new friend Liam. "Christ Church, was one of the 50 new churches, commissioned by an Act of Parliament in 1711 to be built on open sites around the City of London. The  architect was Hawksmoor, an assistant to Wren.

"Struth! I have a Koala somewhere!" He goes off looking for it.

"Hello, Rob," I persist, finding another Australian and guide him to a window overlooking the church.  "See how the west front terminates the facing street with its monumental steeple, punctuating the simple rectangular body of the church. The steeple rises directly behind a grand portico, raised by steps from the street. The portico has a Palladian form, an arched centre flanked by two rectangular openings on each side, which is echoed by the tripartite window behind the chancel to the east."

"I missed Neighbours!"

"The interior is an axially organised plan, with column screens all around articulating the entrance with balcony seating above, side aisles, and separating the chancel to the east. Four piers with half columns attached articulate a central rectangle, marking a cross aisle between two side doorways. Together these piers and the column screen give the linear plan an additional centralized reading. Tall, flat coffered ceilings allow space for clerestory windows to light the central space and lower outer windows to light the side aisles."

"I do feel a bit rough, mate! It was a real heavy night last night! " Rob moans.

I continue. "The extreme height of the steeple, the giant order of columns, the tall interior volumes and window and door openings are proportioned as simple rectangular, semi-circular and circular forms. The geometric simplicity of the giant scaled forms gives the church a sombre monumental grandeur. It evokes basic and archetypal experiences of form and faith, made tangible in stone."

Rob grasps my hand saying "I've got to go somewhere!" He disappears into the night.

I must learn to improve my interpersonal skills with strangers.


We meander a few yards to Brick Lane, famous for its Indian restaurants. Really good food.

Mike must organise another party soon!