Well, this guy doesn't seem to have enjoyed my talk! Last night I spoke about London Fictions in the truly remarkable surroundings of the Norman crypt (from the 1140s) of St John, the old Priory church in St John's Square, Clerkenwell. Listening in the wings was Prior Weston - that's him above - who died in April 1540 on the very day that Henry VIII ordered the dissolution of his religious order. Spitalfields Life, as ever, has been here before me - here's 'A Dead Man in Clerkenwell.'
Still closer to hand was the tomb and effigy of Don Juan Ruyz de Vergara, a sixteenth century procurator of the Knights of St John in Castile. The effigy is not simply of Don Juan but, grotesquely, of his page boy as well - I'm not clear whether he too is buried in the crypt.
It did seem a touch sacrilegious to be talking about matters so secular and profane - George Gissing, Sam Selvon, Zadie Smith, Colin MacInnes, could you ever hope for a more profane bunch - from what was very close to the altar. But the close to capacity current day audience didn't seem to mind (and indeed I sold out of copies of the book) so I hope the ghosts of St John past were equally entertained.
Last night was part of the excellent Footprints of London Literary Festival - more details here.
Andrew Whitehead's blog
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