I'm posting this from the steps of St Paul's where, once again I have baulked at spending £12.50 to go into a church. I completely understand that these places cost an arm and a leg to maintain and I don't object to making a voluntary donation to help to maintain the fabric of the building but I think it's fundamentally wrong to charge entrance to a place of worship.
I should make my position clear. I don't have any personal religious beliefs, but I do like a church! I like the look of them and I like the feel of them and I like the history associated with them but really it stops there. If I had religious conviction, I'm pretty sure that I would object to an admission charge! Apparently, genuine worshippers do get in free, although I'm not sure exactly how you prove that you are genuine!
I haven't been into St Paul's or Westminster Abbey for many years, which is a real shame, they are both beautiful and fascinating buildings and I have no doubt that I will put aside my principles, hand over the cash and step over the threshold again...........eventually.
I do have another issue with both Westminster and St Paul's. The powers that be don't allow photographs to be taken within their walls. Is it because they want us to buy postcards, slides and books at the inevitable gift shop or is it that the taking of photographs in some way desecrates the sanctity of the building. I don't know, but if it's the latter, there does seem to be some inconsistency within the Church of England. Most churches have no problem with photography. Some of the other Cathedrals charge a modest fee for a "licence" to take pictures, which presumably offsets the losses in the gift shop as well as dealing with the issue of desecration. I don't have a problem with this. I do have a problem with not being able to take photographs at all. I'm a compulsive snapper. I like to record where I have been. This is not for glory or financial gain but in effect records the passage of my life. It is important to me.
Perhaps that is what really niggles me about paying to visit St Paul's. All of the pain, but none of the gain!
As I write this the bells have just started pealing, a wonderful sound..............or it would be if the joker accompanying the Mayors Skyride, which has swamped the City with flourescent clad cyclists, hadn't turned up the volume of his sound system to compete with them.
Oh well, time to move on.