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This report is taken from PN Review 167, Volume 32 Number 3, January - February 2006.

From a Journal R.F. Langley

July 2000

We eat at a table outside Le Petit Rolin Créperie, directly below the porch of Autun Cathedral, the Giselbertus Christ in Majesty overlooking us. A pancake with ham and cheese, loaded with an egg, which explodes and moistens the rest. The Fountain of Lazarus droops several thin spouts of water around the central jet, which it fires upwards. The carved pelican on top vigorously feeds her brood. Beyond that, the nineteen lime trees make their shady copse in the car park. The cathedral is pale grey stone, rather metropolitan, with the later, gothic, north flank cleaned and yellow, and the roof astonishingly tiled with mustard, sienna, orange and cream tiles, in patterns, glazed to a mirror shine. The porch itself is tall and cool. Blue stone slabs the steps up into it. And the tympanum. The mandorla. The face that doesn't look at you, and the spread hands, palms outwards.

A party of fifteen swifts harry the square, shrieking. They swerve into the porch and sweep up to the roof, right up to its ceiling, behind a rib in the vault there. Hidden by the rib, from where we are sitting, there is a round hole in the smooth ceiling, dead central, in front of Christ's gaze. The birds seem particularly big and very black, except for their flashing white chins. They approach the hole, flapping hard, then fall away without contact, usually. If two close in simultaneously, they tumble back, squabbling. But ...


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