The clouds are closer to the ground in the England. White on top, gray on the bottom, the heavy low clouds of Worcester seem to be more a feature of the ground than the sky. We’re on the fifth floor of the Travel Lodge, our un-quaint but budget accommodations. But the view out the window is much different than the typical motel room in America. No mall parking lot, no Interstate, no TGIFridays out this window. A giant narrow spire rises the highest over the red-chimneyed roof tops. But there are many towers in this town. The grand cathedral dominates the skyline. It is, not surprisingly, just so much larger in scale than any other building. We’re guessing it’s from the 14th, 15th, or 16th century. Ballpark guess, of course. It seems the Duke University chapel in Durham, North Carolina lifted it’s footprint, tower, and all of its gothic details directly from this site. It front of the cathedral is a wide meandering park that seems to be on the verge of going wild. Heavy dropping willows encroaching on the well trimmed lawns.
Worcester is a pretty town embracing its future as a tourist destination and in the midst of forgetting its past as a commercial center for the trading of hops. Perhaps we would all do better to forget our commercial ambitions and recline into a future built on the culture of past. At least it’s the approximation of a local culture with connections to something other than the bright lights of the television, euro-trash techno beats, and the tinkling digital dominance and perpetual interconnection of the cell phone age. As our trip comes to a close we fear and dread our return to Heathrow. There’s the big terror threat, naturally. But that only serves to amplify the previously existing condition. Airports are the worst, the ground-zeros of modernity where the chaos all comes together like ten thousand rivers crashing into one another, battling for one tiny overwhelmed outet. How we long for the ancient narrow unpaved roads of Scotland meant only for the feet of men and horses to travel. The Marr’s Bar gig was an under-attended affair made pleasant by the small crowd’s enthusiasm and the kindness and hospitality of Brian Marr and the Marr’s Bar staff who fed and watered us and made the room sound good. The place even had Wi-Fi, damn it. We’ve had gigs like this in America but this was the first truly dismal turnout on this leg of the tour so it took a little psychological adjustment. Our last gig was in front of hundreds of drunk admiring Scots in a packed tent on the Highlands.