YOU DON’T NEED SANDALS IN HEAVEN, APPARENTLY If you come into town by train the dome of St.

John’s is the first thing that you notice. The silver and blue curves sit a little incongruous on top of the rightangled, redbrick structure beneath, and indeed within the North-Western mill community that nestles it. Go through the heavy, wooden, double doors of the Catholic church though and the Byzantine pretensions of its Victorian builders shine, literally. A brilliant mosaic dizzies the mind like optical frankincense. Covering one half of the interior of the dome, above the altar, is a scene from the apocalypse. The four Evangelists loom in gold leaf with a dangling lamb like an offering. The human, the lion, the ox and the eagle, all winged and barefoot, are two-dimensional giants who have outgrown their tetramorph. With dead eyes they ignore the congregation, seemingly unconcerned with the little people beneath. They are solely concentrating on paying homage to the Pantokrator, who is at last seated on his throne. Christ too is passive and a little Eastern of aspect and very foreign to an English child of six in 1977. The boy sits in his pew and is entranced. To him at this time, as holy as the dome itself and with just as many evil thoughts in his golden head, they are all Harryhausen monsters that could turn their creaking necks and stare directly into the soul. But then ‘Sinbad and the Eye of the Tiger’ is playing at the ABC in town, and for some reason it is the Apostles’ naked, floating feet that frighten him the most.

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