The sun was out and this is like a really nice step, so here we are.

And this would be one of the places where I would walk, but I would never I would have never stopped and sat down on the steps of the church. Ever. I think this is like the first time that we're doing this, and I'm loving it.

And even so, like a small sign there down in front. Describing as to why this was felt like here. And we spoke about Bow bells, about the bells of Bow

She's about to tell me all about.

We sat in the church facade, that's been transformed into a garden. And I guess it's just a common space. But with some sort of historical heritage? In terms of material is brick. It's pretty tall. Large windows. Visually, that's why I can see, yeah.

Here we are outside. Is this St Bride's Church? Oh, yes. Yeah, just off Fleet Street. I'm here just killing time, really? Well, I wait for my watch battery to be changed and some keys to be cut. Timpson. Yeah, I was just wandering around and happened upon here. It looked like a lovely calm oasis. So here this nice bench.

I think for me, uh uh, well, firstly is just, you know, if you if you come here more during summer, there's flowers and everything that is really beautiful. I enjoy, you know, like moments of beauty in this kind of like, very concrete environment.

And so it's nice to see a garden this like a little oasis, isn't it? Otherwise, it's just like a concrete desert. Um, but otherwise I feel like, uh, these kind of places are kind of definitive to what London architecture is about.

That's kind of the history that is kind of still still being used around all the modern architecture. I mean, that's what I would describe as a London aesthetic, is the heritage mixed in with the new modern contemporary architecture. Um, I just like the juxtaposition of it, I think, you know, it has history, but also it makes everything stand out more, because if you look everywhere else, there's so much less detail and less history behind it. Well, there's still history. There is. But I mean, if you look at that building there that's very contemporary and you've got this, that the contrast is really beautiful in my opinion.

It's quite sunny. You can hear the traffic, but it really does feel quite tucked away.

I don't usually go near churches unless the sun is shining.

I actually work around the area, so I'm working now, I have to be in this zone. This is one of the areas I like to sit down while I'm waiting for a job.

Is that your bike?


And do you use it to get around?

What do you do?

I deliver food.

I'm a courier.

You're a courier! and it's really I'm interrupting your like five minutes of peace.

No it's fine, I'm here since nine thirty. So its fine

A little drop in deliveries. So I can take it easy I can have a drink, and wait for a job.

And why you sitting here today?

I think church parks are kind of always tucked away in London and it's kind of nice out of the way retreat from the busy roads and stuff. So I'm having a coffee quickly before I go.


But you working today?


What would you do?


Oh, nice, what around here? Yeah. Not too far.

Is this your favourite church garden?

I just sit in any of them, to be honest.

What do you think makes these different to the other spaces?

They're probably more cared for, looked after, tended to, so more parks can be a bit more run down.

That's so. It's nice how long would you sit here for?

For 10, 15 minutes til I finish my coffee and head off?

Maybe get disturbed by an artist.

Yeah exactly!

How much time have you got? Well, I mean, I to um. Well, you know, London. What does London mean for me? Um. I think the first thing is diversity. You know, like that's just huge because I think it's really difficult to think of London without diversity, because I think it's just what is knownfor, you know, right. You can go to any other city in the country or anywhere else or, you know, anywhere else, because, you know, other cities, they got their thing. But even just like a cycle or even just kind of across the city just the change not only the people, but the buildings and the landscapes and the shops, the smells, the sights and sounds, the river or whatever else, it's just. Always, always changing. I think it's quite cool in some ways because, you know, I've met a lot of people from all around the world. And what they always told me is that you know, I mean, you can be yourself. You know, like there's no restrictions. You know, you feel accepted however you are, whereas maybe back in their home country, they don't feel so open or freedom to be exactly how they want to be.

To be a Londoner that means, you accept like the London diversity, because that's what is supposed to stand for, even though right now in political climate, you know, what the fuck it is. Um, but yeah, I don't know. Maybe because I'm originally from Russia and I've been here for 12 years, so maybe I'm a Londoner. Yeah, by, my, my, my definition. I'm a Londoner.

Yeah. Yeah. I think I feel the same. I mean, I I'm not English either.

I've lived here since I was one, so I'm definitely a Londoner.

Yeah, I feel that way.

The Lord mayor does not need to be Christian. You could be a Jewish Lord Mayor before you could be a Jewish prime minister. There hasn't yet been an Islamic Lord Mayor. But it's surely only a matter of time.

And I think when I was younger, I definitely had a like a love hate relationship with it. You know, like those things like, you know, so busy, so expensive. But after a certain time, you just learn to embrace it all, like, you know, whatever I have against it, you know, I could never, ever, you know, leave for good
or like. Forget this place. It's just it's just too much going on.

I don't think we've ever celebrated the end of the empire, but we've celebrated the beginning of the Commonwealth.

I was just going to say that I've been in London or at least I've been in London for five years. And to me, being a Londoner just means not getting lost. Like knowing your way around the tube and all of everything that he said as well. Yeah, but for me, that was the main thing. One day kind of coming, coming to London, I'm back from visiting my parents and then suddenly feeling, gosh, I know where the entrance of the tube is. Oh, I know how to cut corners.

And so that I can get to the first kind of train or the one that stops. And in front of the stairs of my stop when I got home, um. You know, those those kind of small things that make you feel relaxed. And ultimately if something kind of goes wrong, you know where to go, you know who to call or, you know, but you can manage by yourself. Yeah.

So all these are telling you that wine is good. And beer is bad. Right have we got any questions so far?

How are you doing today?

I'm good. Thank you. Good. What are you up to in the garden? Um, I'm just getting ready to go back. Tidying it up and I'm always working, round St Pauls.

Do you work in a lot of the Wren gardens?

No, no, no. Not all of them.

I mainly do right by the churches and it keeps me busy.

On a sunny day.

Oh, yeah. It's one of them. Funny days, which is cold. Hot. You know, in the shade. Yeah. Yeah, it's nice.

And what do you do in the church?

Do the weeds. Any weeds along there I'll get the weeds up and makes it look a lot better.

I think that this is one of the glorious things about the city that you have these hidden places because it is a public courtyard. Anybody can come in, but it belongs to the church. Ooh, we're not allowed to go in here. Interesting, right?

I don't know. Just feels a bit sad. Churches aren't that happy and place for some reason. You know, although people get married in churches and people, you know, christenings. There's a general kind of. Sadness associated with churches, and I think it's because the popularity of the old religions has diminished. So they're quite kind of quiet.

All sorts of city attempts happen here, like ale conning, stuff like that. Well, the wishful company rules to test whether the beer is good or not. And they wear leather trousers and they pour beer onto a wooden bench and they sit on it.

Can we come? Yes, you can. I mean, you can, but I don't know when it's going to happen because all these things have stopped this year. So. If you if you contact the Brewers, they'll tell you when they'll be doing it and you'll be here.

And so if you stand up, so you've poured your beer on the bench, and you sit down in your leather trousers and when you stand up, If you stick, the beer isn't fit to drink, but if you just stand up it's good. If you just stand up, you know, it's good for the test.

It's wonderful.

Yes. And then there's a lot of drinking doctors.

And I love how kind of opposite it is to that stained glass window saying, you know, beer is bad.

I wonder if that's why they chose it.

I think the word is four letters and it's dead, horribly dead. We really thought, would we have a rise up out of this again, like so many people. But we have, thankfully and hopefully in the not too distant future, we'll get all our regular visitors back again on a day to day basis.

So we have The Phoenix, which is coming up after the great fire. Marchrams sent people to look to find things that could be salvaged from the old cathedral. And that stone that says Resurga, which is that Latin for I rise, is one of the things that were found.

I guess initially I didn't really have a reference point because my entire career had started remotely, has been remote, but I am quite extrovert, so I feel energized being around all the people. So it helps me being in the office.

But also the nature of our job is that we're on the phone quite a lot. So even if you are by yourself, you're not really alone.

Yeah. Like you're always on a zoom or on a call somewhere. Yeah.

I don't know. I think that's like positive and negatives. I think working from home, I have more time to like have healthier meals. I mean, this is pretty healthy, but like this is once in a once in a week!

Otherwise, I would have whatever's the quickest. I also have time to go to the gym, and that contributes a lot to my um, my mental wellbeing and. And just again, avoiding the rush of the commute. Yeah, that helps a lot. But then, yeah, I'm like you. I love I love coming in and being around everyone and like being able to have lunch with you, you know, and like say outside things like that.

Yeah, definitely.

Yes. This perspective is, you know, the periphery is the garden and you know, the brick. Also, you know, like if we're talking about our age right now, it's so much about the age of functionality. It's all about function.

Whether here we still have got that human touch. And, you know, it's it's the opposite of IKEA. If that makes sense.

So it was extremely quiet. The city was sort of the quietest. And everyone is just working at home. It was really quiet. I had I had a little baby in March


So that was my sort of like blessing. And so when I weren't here, I was sort of spending time with him. So my relationship with him, I think it wouldn't have been what it is now if I didn't have the time and energy that I've had over the last year. See how I feel like it is quite precious.

So that. Yeah, that was noticeable. Definitely. Lack of planes. It's one of these things you don't really think about when you see a plane, got I haven't seen a plane in a while.

And I mean, it's just the quiet and fresh off the air. I mean, it really felt like. Yeah, it was like you're in the country. Yeah, I do remember I have a photo of it, one day the sky was like a deep blue.

And completely clear, and we sort of had put a couple of cushions down and were just lying and sort of it did sort of feel like looking at the sky kind of sort of, you know, limestone column and kind of did feel quite Grecian somehow.

A contrast with the sun drenched white stone and the blue sky. Yeah. Like definitely some of some of my best memories, ironically. Oh, well, I mean, that was actually before I got diagnosed.

And I've always thought there's something very calming about stone and like bare stone. Something about the tone of the color, or perhaps it's, the way that different sounds reverberate off the, off the surface.

Although there is a kind of a sadness and an abandonedness and a sort of sense of diminished participation by the general public in some of these buildings, they do sort of by their setting and the fact that, people generally don't walk up to them, they do offer some solitude and an opportunity to kind of sit down and reflect, work, or simply be there without being interfered with or, you know, affected by the workings of the workaday world, really, so they tend to be a little island. Separated out from other things around, I mean, if you look at the the shape and style of this building compared to Baynard House, you know, that's clearly an ugly 60s, 70s construction made minimal, at minimal cost. You know, whereas this is actually kind of built of stones and brick and, you know, these big slabs of York stone. You know, it renders it with a quality of rime. And, you know, time that goes back quite a long way. So there areas are separated from the the general area because of their age that been there.

Yes, also. Something about the high ceilings. Makes it feel very, very, very different to domestic space or a pub or...

Yeah, it almost like encourages you to breathe or take more time. Kind of slow down in the space. It's like you can't run in a church without being really disruptive.

We were going to get married in July. Like July 18th. And then obviously, we sort of thought that wasn't going to happen and especially wasn't going to happen because all of the council offices were closed so we couldn't register the marriage.

We thought we were going to get married in the church, so we didn't need to use the premises and there church would have been able to marry us. But at the time, we weren't registered. So it can't really happen.

So we basically kind of resigned ourselves to delaying until August or September or something. And then, you know, with my diagnosis so we can kind of get emergency sort of registration. So we ended up, um, registering and actually, it came together, I ended up delaying my chemo.

And it makes sense to you could delay, you know, a month or two but not like not too long. So we ended up getting married on the same day. And then because we were only 15 and you basically just walked back here and there's there's a courtyard outside.

So is had the kind of reception. Not officially a reception, but yeah. Just had drinks and photos and stuff like that, which was great. The weather weather's beautiful and yeah, it's really nice light because the office buildings sort of reflect the sun, so it's sort of dappled, slightly less harsh light. And so it's really, really nice and. So.

look over to your left, and here you see the tower of Christchurch, Greyfriars above the first stage and you see that there are rows of stone urns. You see those? And at the top of the urns. There are stone flames.

And whenever you see that anywhere, you know that that is Christopher Wren after the great fire.

I actually went to the level above, because I have we had some like, yeah, there was a bit of water coming in and I was was curious to know where it came from. It's like a window. This is sort of like above the colonade.

There's some urns and there's a small window. It's like kind of, I don't know, like half a meter high, about like 40 centimeters high. And I've taken a pane of glass off so I could go out and kind of asphalt over the top, but kind of lazily didn't put the glass back - ventilation is always good, but then I kind of spotted some like yeah, basically some pigeons, a nice little ledge up there. So there's like little droppings. So the last time I was actually up and out there was moving these two little kind of fledglings out.

They were I think they were big enough to survive. I think they were. But anyway, I moved them out and cleaned up.

Was there a lot of bird poo, the fledgling pigeons?

Um, but yeah, I mean, it's funny because it's such a tall building. We don't generally. Yeah. It's quite common to sort of just, gravity just sort of keep you down near the bottom and you come up like to sleep.

I think they come here to feed and then eventually go breed over the Barbican. So we only have them for a short while, we're discussing ducks now

and like songbirds. But at the top, there's a colony of seagulls. Yeah. When I because. Yeah. I mean, I, I remember when they were building this, because they scaffold it all the way to the top and the builders were talking about like getting attacked by the seagulls.

I guess it's pretty good roost for them. It's like quite high, high up.

People are talking about, you know, the sense of tranquility is something that everyone's trying to get to. But it's really hard because obviously it's always a very fast paced movement and people always rushing and rushing and rushing in their living in a hyper capitalist society as well.

It's all about attention, economy, and they call attention to being swallowed up all the time. So it's really hard to find the actual psychological space to escape because, you know, even if you go on a holiday, sometimes you go somewhere peaceful, even like this, for you to transfer your mind into a space where you're actually tranquil, it's very difficult because, you know, a sense of rush, sense of adrenaline, a sense of determination in life and genuine social pressure. It takes a long time to kind of come off that, you know, it's like a drug almost.

So to reach actual level of tranquility is very, very difficult. And I think it's also to do with like association, it's like how you associate to the space, like what is what and what kind of place it holds in your life in like in in your memories.

And, you know, your psychology is built around that. So maybe they even space that you like the most, like it's supposed to be tranquil, will still give you those anxieties. So I think it's even like on a deeper level, it's like maybe like places like this as well, maybe it gives you tranquility because there's history beyond your own, you know?

And we are a sanctuary of just peace and quiet for anybody to come in during the working week. For a moment out of the office, and certainly turn your mobile's off and have a bit of peace and quiet away

from nagging phone calls.

Probably not. I'll probably say I'm an atheist. I'll probably say, of course, I don't think we're alone in the universe. Definitely think there's other stuff out there.

But I wouldn't say it's God. So, yeah.

It must be kind of stacked on top of each other.

It'd be plague bodies wouldn't it.

Probably, yeah. Oh, that's interesting.

That shows you that people are very, such haste, that as Dickens has it, as Dickens has it, the dead are hopefully above the living. So, this is full of corpses.

Yeah, and now we have our own contemporary plague. Oh, I guess the only sign of Covid, all the notices on the benches saying, don't sit here. Keep a safe distance.

Is this your first tour after all these months?

Yes, it is actually. I can't tell you how wonderful it feels.

It was just so uplifting to sing with other voices and not have like the screen as an intermediary and just being in the space. With an acoustic in with people's facial expressions and gesture.

Yeah, it was it was amazing. And the social side as well. Catch up on what everyone's been up to or not been up to

Yeah, he did miss one, isn't it? Oh, now

I know it's no, I think the secret will be.

Can you describe to me what you what normally have for lunch. On a day like today.

Today, I would probably have to bring in sandwiches or treat myself to McDonald's.

It is fantastic. Thank you so much, Keith.

You have a nice day, the new team. Thank you.

So. Yes. Any funny stories, any of the church gardens?

Not really.

What coffee, you got?

Just the standard latte.

How do you take it?

Um. Take away.

I didn't know that because they do like a full on boom boom boom boom on the hour, but I guess they do every 15 minutes like, you know. we're definitely still here.

Something is happening. Yeah. I wonder if there's like an app and someone is like in their office or in there like on the sofa just pressing like the button on the app and like the bell rings.

I mean, but then it's like liberation for the Bellringing is, you know, like, you know, everyone else gets their jobs to be easy on the computer, like, you know, Tesco guys, you know, like less stress in terms of so many people come into the till.

So, you know, let the guys have their app, you know, and they can come in and, you know, they don't feel that they miss. I miss the the feel of the rope. You know, let me give it a ring.

But I'd be curious to know actually how that works.

Yeah. Well, half of them are manually rung. Some of them are electronically done, but they are real. They're not gramophone records.

Most of them are still tolled.

Yeah, talking about tranquility and noise. You know, like if you're in London, you can never experience silence, in life in general. You can never experience silence. You will always hear something, even if you are like.

If you have you done these floating tanks, you know the sensory deprivation. Yeah. I don't know. Can you hear your breath and heartbeat? I know. I know. I have never been I've never been in them. Well, I'm not sure because I really want to do one but apparently even then when it's complete silence, you can still hear your heartbeat and your body. So there's never like there's that scary thing that you can never experience silence, I guess, in those you in space, maybe we can experience silence, but we're not going, I'm not going to space anytime soon.

And I think overall, you know, you have to you have to just come to an idea that you will always experience noise. And I don't know, I don't know how about how it makes me feel, because I you know, you will always be a product of your environment.

And what it's like just going from patterns of different silences that you can you can experience.