...or so Will Ladislaw claims in 'Middlemarch' George Eliot's late 19th century study of provincial life, and it's actually quite easy to see why he said it. Get into the flow, the stream of consciousness and an unanticipated pause breaks the train of thought with no guarantee of rejoining. As Coleridge found to his cost, the view of Xanadu is all too easily lost, never to be regained in quite the same way again.
Coventry may not quite be a modern-day Xanadu, but on 5 June it will become the UK City of Culture for the ensuing year. A huge and exciting programme of arts and culture will follow, on display and in performance, including the words of George Eliot projected onto public buildings. 'It will never rain roses: When we want to have more roses, we must plant more roses'. Cultural flowers are already blooming across the city bring life and colour to the city which can otherwise seem an unpromising landscape for artistic inspiration - have a look at https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-coventry-warwickshire-57063153. George Eliot's prose will be interwoven with the work of rap artists and drill tracks, including a short promotional film by producer Coolie entitled 'Timeless Words Made New'. It sounds - and looks - fascinating.
In a way this event is another rebirth for Coventry. The city centre was extensively damaged in November 1940 during the Coventry Blitz, when the Luftwaffe flattened and burned most buildings, including the city's medieval cathedral. When reconstruction took place in the early '50s a new, modernist cathedral was built alongside the ruins of the old, and the combination of the two is symbolic of the growth of the new city from ground zero. The result is rather wonderful, and the interior of St Michael's Church is inspirational because of its iconic style, its amazing stained glass and its resident tapestry by Graham Sutherland, designed and executed on a huge scale. As the phoenix city arose around it the cathedral was, and remains, a symbol of hope, reconciliation and rebirth. The City of Culture label, embellishing the city at the heart of the Midland Region will change the aesthetic but should also bring tourists and growth at a time when the hospitality industry is coming out of hibernation.
It's not just Coventry where life has been interrupted, where the music and poetry has come to a stop. As we emerge from the clutches of the pandemic we can all look back over a period when time slowed almost to a stop. Thinking back it's difficult to remember what I was preoccupied with over a year ago when Covid started causing such chaos, misery and confusion for everyone. Now we are all about to resume something much more like a recognisable routine and re-launching our social and sociable lives. Cinema, theatre, art and music will be back very soon and though much has been lost I appreciate so much of what I once took for granted so much more. The interruption of months and months is almost over...