Chaos to Cosmos
The path from chaos to cosmos was discovered by telling one's life story

Tuesday, 21 April 2009

I'm a tourorist

Mill in Christchurch

Yesterday, with some time to spare before an appointment there, I ventured to have a slow stroll around the attractions in Christchurch, Dorset. This is the watermill, which sits alongside a murky brown bit of water. Wilkipedia tells us that it's unique, in that it is the only known mill which takes water from one river (the Avon) and spills it into a second river (the Stour). Yes, fascinating, but it's still murky! At least, unusually, the sun was shining and there was a blue sky, eh?

Pretty bridge over murky water

Good weather in Britain is not the only short-lived thing. Hospitality is getting pretty rare too. Christchurch is a tourist spot - I even overheard someone speaking Spanish yesterday - though solo Dios sabe (only God knows) what they will have made of the place. And God, if he ever existed, will have died of shock and be turning in his grave by now, seeing how tourists - or more aptly, as Tom Paine calls them "Tourorists" - are being treated in his house in Christchurch.

Not only would you think that the whole damn country should be tripping over itself to please this sudden influx of visitors benefiting from the weakened pound - it's much cheaper to please and keep an existing customer than it is to find new ones - you'd think the church would be scrambling to welcome people, given how Godless and unbelieving we've all become. Or maybe they've given up?

As I strolled into Christchurch Priory, being a tourorist, I had a camera in my hand. Nuffin fancy, just a small Kodak digital pointy-shooty thing. I had another in my mobile phone, of course. From which I mean to underline that every single person who enters the building is probably carrying some sort of terrorism device, I mean, is armed with a camera. Yet despite (or is it because of?) this whole backdrop of circumstances, Christchurch Priory are determined to make visiting as complicated and unwelcoming as they possibly can. All, it seems, for money.

I'd only just got inside the door, but not even had time to glance around when a woman in a blue ecclesiastical looking smock thingy accosted me and asked if I was going to take photographs. Well, since I had only just arrived and hadn't even looked around, I really had no idea if I was going to spot something that would inspire me to do so and responded thus; that I wasn't sure, honestly.

Remember, my camera is the sort of thing every tourist is carrying: it's not like I still have my Pentax with a lens so large that it would have stretched across the River Stour - that I could have held like an UZI machine gun - or made me look like press or anything. But, I was told, as this ecclesiastical guard dog pointed toward a booth in the middle of the aisle of the church, that I had to "PAY FOR permission and get a badge." What, just to only maybe take the odd crappy snapshot?

Paraphrasing the immortal words of John McEnroe, they "... can not be serious!"

But, those were the words I heard tailing off into the distance as I turned on my heels and exited, swiftly, without a word. I didn't think this assault even warranted a response. And, I don't think the Priory deserve my business if that is going to be their attitude. Yes, I did (wrongly, as it turned out) assume that this might have something to do with the current climate of fear, where photography is being turned into a crime, but apparently, this money-grabbing approach at the Priory is well known locally and has been going on for years.

Listen, I really don't mind churches getting in my face to beg for money for the roof fund and, to be honest, I wouldn't even mind them charging an entrance fee up front at the door - I'm aware that buildings like this require a lot of upkeep - but it's the manner that this is being done that is leaving a bitter taste. Truly, I wish I had time, energy or inclination to make a detailed study of Canon Law until I found a buried clause about "Thou shalt not stiff thy flock with jumped up photography charges", or some such equivalent.

My advice: do the same, refuse to patronize establishments, nonsensical and unwelcoming policies, then eventually, when the penny has dropped that they can no longer get away with it, they might amend them to something better.

1 comment:

ronsrants said...

Pamela, if you thought the church was bad, try this:-