Saturday, 8 November 2014

Back to Bath

A fortnight after our brief break in Bath, I was there again yesterday. It was wet, not a day for photography, but in a lull on my way back to the station I spotted this sign: is it soliciting customers or warning them of the presence of a latter-day Demon Barber?

The purpose of my visit was another lunchtime meeting and talk. Turkey was on the agenda, but not on the menu. David Logan, formerly our ambassador in Istanbul, speaks with beguiling lack of emphasis, but no wasted words. He mapped out for us the complex, not to say intractable, set of relationships between Turks and four sorts of Kurds: we also glimpsed behind the scenes within Turkey itself, a country clearly not to be ignored.

19 of us attended, one of the ancillary pleasures being meeting people of differing backgrounds: I sat next to another former ambassador (to Chile), who also worked for many years in Geneva on arms control. He argues strongly now against all armed intervention in either Iraq or Syria.

With Caroline away in France this week, I was given supper by friends on Tuesday: for Trishe's birthday, Christopher was getting her Gerry Hughes' new book, Cry of Wonder, so I thought I'd have a look at it in Bath's elegant Waterstones. I couldn't find it, and on the train home I saw in the paper that its author had just died. RIP.

He was a gentle, shy man. 29 years ago this month we had him to stay for a Winchcombe Action for Peace meeting - in the Methodist church, as the Catholic priest said No to it being in St Nicholas'. On our way down the hill into Winchcombe, Gerry realised he'd left his Jerusalem Bible in our spare room - he needed it for his talk. "No problem," I said. "We have to pay a courtesy visit to the Catholic priest, and we can ask to borrow one from him." But, "The Jerusalem Bible!" exclaimed Canon Morrissey. "I don't have that."

Arriving at the door of the Methodist church, we were greeted warmly by the Minister. I told him about Gerry's Jerusalem Bible oversight. "Just a moment," he said, "I'll get Fr. Hughes my copy."

The Royal Court's new play about the climate crisis, 2071 has just begun a short run (till 15th). It "is better than good: it is necessary", concludes Michael Billington in his 5-star review. The same might be said of Gerry Hughes' God of Surprises.

No comments: