Wednesday, 28 September 2011

At Cologne Cathedral

The situation of Colen is very delectable...

Their Cathedrall Church which is dedicated to St. Peter is a goodly building, but it is a great pittie that it is so imperfect. For it but halfe ended. Doubtlesse it would be a very glorious & beautifull worke if had been thoroughly finished....


Tommy Boy....


A few hours sleep after Underground and I am preparing for the walk to Dusseldorf, but first I want one last vision of Cologne's cathedral because Tommy has dedicated twenty something pages to its description, pretty much tomb by tomb. Who knows if this was real time reportage or copied from some guide in German?

So I am in the square that houses one side of the cathedral, a hotel, and the modern art museum. It's already about eleven, which means a late arrival in Dusseldorf. Today there are a new set of faces in the crowds that flock these spaces, faces I don't recognise from my many weeks of walking across Germany; and when I walk around the corner to the main station and its own theatrical courtyard of arrival and departure there are more and more of this strange type arriving by train.

They - as I am, high on the staircase gods watching the Lowry figures flock and separate below - are greeted by a new piece of art in the station square, perhaps twenty five metres high and wide: il papa, advertising "Germany's leading catholic radio station." In the image used the Pope's gesture is a waive, his arm is raised at least - oh god I am being charitable - that could just possibly be misunderstood, given yer man's history, nationality, and....well I am a charitable soul.

The faces are not the only unusual thing; the men, and predominantly this is a man thing, are dressed in olive green blazers adorned with medals. Many carry banners, in cloth, often with designs from the most brutal of christian art sources, St. Sebastian is big, all those arrows and homo-erotic poses... These are walrus men for the most part, with Colonel Blimp moustaches and deep double jowelled necks. Big, overweight, and certain...

But what are they? They are joined by a few women, dressed in Elsa Lanchester Bride of Frankenstein mode, the kind of style that might make the catwalk if The Wicker Man became a big seasonal influence on the people who've taken over from Alexander McQueen. (Yes the jacket and jeans doing very nicely thank you). They keep coming from the station, a relentless march of history straight out of The Lady Vanishes. Yes the Brides have a Margaret Lockwood air; yes it would be no surprise to see Caldicot and Charteris discussing the cricket somewhere....following live on the BBC website, these days.

They are joined in the cathedral's surrealist hinterlands this morning by those extraordinarily annoying silver mimes: angels, roman soldiers, more angels, and they take the majority of the attention for the genuine passer-by tourist child from China or Chigwell.

But not mine.

One green jacket particularly inspires me; a younger sort with a giant head that is buzz cut shaved and his only other facial adornment are a pair of black bull's balls that he has pierced into his nostrils. Think Hellboy meets the winner of the US Masters golf tournament. He's carrying a large St Sebastian banner and I am just thinking that he wouldn't exactly have been out of place on the dance floor to the death metal at Underground. Except that this guy means it. I get in close to these guys and take a lot of photographs. Not quite Robert Kapa in Spain, but there is a pretty strange vibe here, is it the country versus the town thing? Is it like the English football fans in Baden-Baden? No, this is celebration. I keep photographing. Beer bellies in Green, beards, those hats with a flower, more brides. Eventually I have to ask.

They are a pistol and rifle association, celebrating their 150th anniversary. Happy memories guys. From all over the state, and not really Cologne at all. There's going to be a mass in the cathedral....and there, outside the station, the Pope looks on. I mean they don't whack anyone who is taking pictures, but there aren't many smiles. I don't like this so much.

I find I've taken a couple of hundred pictures so I go off to wifi and publish a few and then realise I am exhausted. I'm not going to make Dusseldorf by foot today so I take the train...

Later there is salsa.

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