I’ve seen it dif­fer­ently

Vi­sion and volunteers can trans­form the every­day into the ex­tra­or­di­nary

Norfolk - - TALK OF THE COUNTY - Rowan Man­tell rowan.man­[email protected]

Whizzing down the hel­ter skel­ter, the glo­ries of Nor­wich Cathe­dral swirling around me, was so much fun I barely had time to make an in-depth study of the medieval art and ar­chi­tec­ture too. Luck­ily there were peo­ple at the top to point to­wards the beau­ti­ful roof bosses, as well as help ma­noeu­vre mats and bod­ies on to the slide and speed us on our way down.

Those in­cred­i­ble roof bosses, each a snap­shot of a story carved in stone, de­pict the Bible, from cre­ation to fi­nal judge­ment. How­ever, even a full-size hel­ter skel­ter was not high enough to see the amaz­ing artistry of each boss. I am now very much hop­ing that the Rev Andy Bryant, who had the bril­liant idea to bring the hel­ter skel­ter into the cathe­dral for 11 glo­ri­ous, giddy days, will now turn his mind to a Go-Ape style col­umn-clam­ber and arch­top walk­way to al­low us even closer to the un­par­al­leled works of art high above us, fol­lowed by a zip-wire de­scent.

In­stead I bought Paul Hurst’s pho­to­graphic book of the bosses to take an even closer look at trea­sures such as Noah plant­ing a vine­yard, a Nor­folk farm cart sub­merged in the lit­er­ally red Red Sea and Christ dis­ap­pear­ing into heaven, with just his feet to go as his amazed apos­tles gaze up­wards, and was per­suaded to join friends on a guided tour of the cathe­dral and clois­ters.

I had thought I was pretty good on the cathe­dral. In­deed I’d been do­ing my best im­pres­sion of a tour guide, point­ing out the al­tar paint­ing which had been turned into a ta­ble to hide it from the ter­ri­ble de­struc­tion of fun­da­men­tal­ists, the font made from a cho­co­late fac­tory mix­ing bowl and the seat of the an­cient bish­ops. But I had never seen Shrek, carved circa 1280, or heard the story of the bronze pel­i­can buried in the Bishop’s gar­den. Nei­ther had I stood in­side a cube pa­pered with the en­tire Bible or seen so many peo­ple en­joy­ing ex­plor­ing our cathe­dral.

Thou­sands came to See­ing It Dif­fer­ently. It is an ex­cel­lent ti­tle, and an ex­cel­lent con­cept to carry out of the cathe­dral and into the rest of life – along with many more ex­cel­lent con­cepts for the rest of life which can be found at the cathe­dral.

See­ing our surroundin­gs dif­fer­ently can trans­form the every­day into some­thing mag­i­cal. It doesn’t even take a hel­ter skel­ter to turn a rou­tine trip to town into an ex­pe­ri­ence. Al­though a fer­ris wheel in Fak­en­ham, carousel in Cromer and swing boats in Swaffham would be fun.

I re­cently saw Great Yar­mouth dif­fer­ently. In­stead of my usual ap­proach by road from the west, we ar­rived by foot­path from the north, through the mag­nif­i­cent dunes. It was a warm day and we had stopped to swim a few times on our walk from Win­ter­ton. We could have been on a Mediter­ranean is­land, only there were fewer peo­ple around. And once we reached the town it­self there was the won­der of the re­stored Vene­tian Water­ways.

A group of Yar­mouth peo­ple had the vi­sion to see a fu­ture for the drained pond and drab chan­nels and gar­dens. It is en­chant­ing. I won’t go quite as far as to say we could have been in Venice, but a Yar­mouth Water­ways, with its sin­u­ous streams, stun­ning plant­ing, grace­ful bridges and thatched pavil­ions, could even en­hance the Vene­tian la­goon.

ABOVE: The hel­ter skel­ter in­stalled in Nor­wich Cathe­dral as part of their See­ing It Dif­fer­ently project

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