A medievalist in New York

In New York I couldn’t keep my eyes off old things, or echoes of old things. When we were discussing potential tourist destinations, possibly art galleries, one of Micheal’s colleagues only wanted to see contemporary art, the really new stuff, because she always thought of New York as new. But mock medieval spires crown the sky-scrapers, and we found a huge imitation Gothic cathedral, St Patrick’s. It was pretty good, but there were no gargoyles, which gave it a strangely smooth complexion.

There were plenty of gargoyles in the cloisters museum. And amazing unicorn tapestries. I was slightly horrified – we all know the picture of the unicorn sitting demurely within its white picket fence, but I had no idea that the story ended with him being torn to pieces by dogs and arrows, and dragged dead into the castle, slung on the back of a horse. Possibly a good thing that it was too dark in there to take pictures.

Then there’s the massive Disney store, and the princess craze that’s taking over the world. My friend bought a ‘baby princess’ for her little daughter. These princesses are medieval too, after a fashion.

We capped off this medieval New York tour with an evening of Spamalot. I was slightly suspicious and wishing we’d chosen something more traditionally broadway, but it turned out to be brilliant. An English pantomime on a massive scale, with king Arthur, dancing girls, a murderous rabbit, and giant confetti tumbling down on us at the end. Perfect.

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