An extract edited from John Fitzgerald's essay at Albion Awakening:
Shrine of King Charles the Martyr? I've lived in or around Didsbury for most of my life and had never heard of such a place...
It was an intriguing discovery, nonetheless - though odds-on a joke or a spot of wishful thinking - and I set off at once to explore...
The area between the park and the cricket club is occupied by a business park now. It's a nice, tree-lined part of town, but I had never visited the business park and never seen any reason why I should. I walked around for a good half-hour in the mist and drizzle. I thought I'd hate it but I actually found it quite a peaceful, almost Zen-like, place...
I saw nothing anywhere to suggest the existence of a shrine. The only old-looking thing I found was a small, chapel-like structure on a grassy roundabout with a triangular roof and an arch-shaped door of dark and heavy wood. I tugged the round, iron handle. The door didn't budge. I walked around to the other side and peered through the window. Nothing to see ... so shrugging my shoulders I went on my way, feeling more let down than I'd expected, given that I hadn't really, deep down, expected to come across a shrine at all.
'Maybe it's hidden' I mused, 'Maybe it's always been hidden. Maybe you can only see it with the eye of faith and imagination.' I was disappointed, I recall, that I didn't appear to have much of either...
I walked to the bus stop by the cricket club. It's only three stops from there to the Village. It was almost fully dark and the lights were on everywhere. The sky was clear and the air mild.
The bus was busier than I'd anticipated.. it stopped at the traffic lights next to the business park.
Then, where the squat glass buildings should have been, I was blessed (and wounded) instead by the most extraordinary sight - a colossal edifice - a Cathedral or Abbey of some kind - with tall high windows all ablaze in golden light. The roof was a giant triangle, with the thick silhouette of a cross standing out on top against the Western sky. I glimpsed a lawn, a bonfire, a ring of people and a flash of red.
Then the lights changed and the bus rolled forward.
Someone was playing a violin. I stood up on tiptoe and saw a girl with a fiddle in front the fire. She had dark hair and a red bandana, and the music I heard through the open window will sustain and inspire me, I swear, through this world and the next - mournful and fierce, exultant and yearning - a funeral dirge and a triumphal march at one and the same time. It was cut from a different cloth - that's all I can say - music from a higher level - a sphere of beauty and intensity that was all too soon behind me as the gears whirred and the bus gathered speed, powering on into the night.
I looked around but could tell straightaway that none of my fellow passengers had seen or heard a thing.
And that's where I left it.
Some things, I reckon now, are hidden because they're meant to be. They rest in the invisible realm - accessible only to the eye of imagination and faith - until the time for their appearance (or reappearance) in this world is ripe.
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