The Shadow of St Pauls

The metals doors of the dumbwaiter slide apart revealing a lunch. Lifting the food out I’d “accidentally” let a few chips fall out – I’d never be so bold as it actually steal food off the plate. I was on the second story of the restaurant where I was hoping to get a permanent job. It was winter, freezing and I was starving.

I’d pass the food over the bar to be delivered to the floor. Upon returning, I’d greedily gobble up the warm, smooth potato scraps. It’s not easy staying full in London when it’s 5 degrees outside, the weekly wage is 125 pounds, rent is 80, travel is 20 and mobile 10 quid.

At 4 o’clock I go downstairs and try to develop my friendship with the chef. She’d usually throw a few scraps my way, often ice cream funnily enough. This day, toasted sandwich, which I hurriedly stashed in my coat and run out the door.

Running down Little Britain and turning the corner into King Edward street, St Pauls would suddenly arise like a tsunami at the end of the road, towering above the world, which I would run towards.

st paul's cathedral peeking between two buildings with the sunset reflecting on the glass

Looking for my first love, seeing him perched on the steps overlooking Paternoster square, I’d plonk myself down to reveal lunch. He wasn’t hungry like I was, but as thin. There were black woolen gloves and deep pockets I’d try to warm my hands in. The freezing winter air would swirl around our faces as I shivered under the grey sky. I’d make it home before the rain. 3 days to Christmas in the calm of the Church’s presence.Cathedral under grey skies at sunset

I’m meant to be Catholic. St Paul’s isn’t a Catholic church, but it always feels like home. If first love hadn’t worked at London Wall, I may never have explored the secret gardens, walls and stones of Cheapside. Every day he’d stand down the road from St Alban’s church tower, shot up in the middle of the road like all that London is, the modern city with deep, deep roots.

St paul's cathedral above the green bushes with a sign called Cheapside St Paul's cathedralThis time I crossed yard into Paternoster Square. I’ve since learnt that my ancestors spent their lives working in the slums of Cheapside. Turns out I’m not all Catholic after all. My deep appreciation for St Paul’s may not just be a love in this lifetime, but in my very being, my blood.

St Pauls' Cathedral on a sunny day monument with towerPaternoster row sign

This day, Mr John and I walked down Breadstreet to find Gordon Ramsay’s restaurant – Bread Street! How expensive could it really be? Turned out, not too bad…but enough for us not to want to part with our hard earned South African Rand “Pounds”. It was closed anyway.

glass window with bread street written on it in black

If you’re in London, DEFINITELY take the time to visit St Paul’s. It’s so beautiful and really makes you feel the magnificence of old architecture. How did they do it? You really respect hard labour when you visit these gorgeous buildings. Well done Sir Christopher Wren!

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