The footsore tale of the Oranges and Lemons Odyssey

6 Sep

Once upon a time there were six lonely, grey and stony churches dotted around a giant city of concrete and commuters. These churches had history, they had lived in the city for many years, and long ago someone had thought so much of them they had written them into a nursery rhyme and made their singing bells the stars.

Time flowed on around the churches and as it did the songs of the bells grew quieter and quieter. Shiny new buildings grew around the six churches hiding them as the city became a many legged and many wheeled beast belching money and smoke and all things modern.

If you listened very carefully when you passed these churches you might hear their lonely bells whisper:

“Oranges and lemons,” said the bells of St Clements,
“You owe me five farthings,” said the bells of St Martins,
“When will you pay me?” said the bells of Old Bailey,
“When I grow rich,” said the bells of Shoreditch,
“When will that be?” said the bells of Stepney,
“I do not know,” said the great bells of Bow.

Just when all hope seemed lost and the bells’ song was barely a heard, the Knit the City Yarn Corps rode in on their shiny red bus steeds. They were six yarnstorming warriors with history in their heads, yarn in their hands and the song of the bells in their rhythm of their stitching. And thus the Oranges and Lemons Odyssey began…

To record this heroic tale the Yarn Corps were accompanied by two fair maidens of the mysterious guild of Alt Artist. Travelling video minstrels who sought out graffiti tales to share as they journeyed.

Enter The Purple Purler who is faced with St Clements, a solemn grey box of a church on St Clement’s Lane. Fearless was she as she vaulted the church’s defences and made her way to the very front door. She presented the church and its fruit-obsessed bells with a ship sailing on a citrus sea.


The Purple Purler behind bars

The Purple Purler fears no pointy bars

Safely strung up

Safely strung up

St Martin Orgar is a ghost of a church that was partly turned to ashes in the 1666 Great Fire of London. In memory of its silent bells Knitting Ninja used her stealthy stitching skills to grow new life on old ground. A woolmade waterfall of leaves and fruit that grew from the church yard to the Blue Plaque beneath.

Knitting Ninja and helpful Jason Orange the yarnstorming stepladder

Knitting Ninja and helpful Jason Orange the yarnstorming stepladder

History meets knittery

History meets knittery

St Sepulchre-without-Newgate houses the bells that once sang the inmates of London Newgate Prison to their final sleep. Deadly Knitshade took to her yarnstorm with a dazzling display of cotton-reel flinging to raise her floating flurry of flying fruits of justice above the church’s door.

Deadly Knitshade goes a bit McGuiver

Deadly Knitshade goes a bit McGuiver

No undergarments!

No undergarments!

Across the city to Shoreditch where Lady Loop took the lead. She twisted and twined her vine of colourful crochet about the railings of a sunsoaked St Leonards around the Oranges and Lemons letterbox, while the haircuts and high-heels of Hoxton hurried by.

Lady Loop longs for longer arms

Lady Loop longs for longer arms

Sunshine, shadows and stitched citrus

Sunshine, shadows and stitched citrus

Jumping onto a passing double-decker carriage the Yarn Corps hurried through the city streets to Shorn-a the Dead’s green and grassy glorious St Dunstans. There she braved the insect world of the undergrowth to deck the graveyard bushes with knitted globes of fruit.

Shorn-a the Dead: one with nature

Shorn-a the Dead: one with nature

The fruit of the yarn bush is not edible

The fruit of the yarn bush is not edible

The gargoyles on the rooftop of St Dunstan’s stopped up their pointed ears as the Yarn Corps took a break from the odyssey to mauraud the Oranges and Lemons song to the mystical recording box of the Alt Artist maidens. Fear not, horrified reader, they shall not be releasing a single, and it would be a kindness to all if their effort were never to reach the ears of any living creature until the end of time.

A perfect spot for a shamefully bad sing song

A perfect spot for a shamefully bad sing song

Onwards to their final church and The Bluestocking Stitcher’s hooked homage to the great bells of Bow at St Mary Le Bow on the sunday-silent Cheapside. The simple smile of Dick Whittington showed he had only stuffing for brains. An authentic London mayor to end the day. The citrus clappers of the bells echoed his cluelessness with a dymo-label confusion of their own.

FYI Dick Whittingtons crocheted arse amused us all

FYI Dick Whittington's crocheted arse amused us all

Oi! Come back! said the bells melodiously

"Oi! Come back!" said the bells melodiously

Six churches across the city sang their citrus song anew wearing their Knit the City fruit-and-history-steeped yarnstorms with London pride.

Six pairs of tired feet headed for goblets of pear cider and tall tales of a crocheted and knitted crusade to tell and retell. In stories where stitched ships sailed, ghost gardens grew, justice jumped and jiggled, crocheted creepers crept, foliage fruited fluffily and a simple stuffed soul was called back to the city by a handmade harmony of bells.

Mischief managed

Mischief managed

For tales straight from the Yarn Corps mouths see:

Deadly Knitshade’s Flying Fruits of Justice for the Bells of Old Bailey


8 Responses to “The footsore tale of the Oranges and Lemons Odyssey”

  1. Aromy September 6, 2009 at 11:49 pm #

    Beautiful work and well told!

  2. Beverly September 7, 2009 at 2:00 am #

    Your escapades make me so genuinely happy, and this “edition” certainly doesn’t disappoint!

    Thanks for the smiles :).

  3. strikk September 7, 2009 at 11:30 am #

    truly inspirational 🙂 love it! love your work, your enthusiasm and the wonderful creations. keep going, keep going – you make london more beautiful with every stitch you create.

  4. @holidaymat September 7, 2009 at 9:04 pm #

    Great guerilla graffiti trick-o-teuses. Move over Banksy! …time for Shoreditch to pay up I reckon (a stitch in time)…

  5. Jane Prater September 7, 2009 at 9:18 pm #

    Lovely fun work. How can folks not smile and feel light-hearted when they encounter your gifts?

  6. Mark Voysey September 9, 2009 at 9:14 am #

    Congratulations on your initiative – great fun.

    Don’t quite understand why you climbed over the railing of St Clements when the gates are never locked.

    Whats happening at St Clements? The Cure Parkinson’s Trust has its headquarters there as also The Lord Mayor’s 800th Anniversary award scheme and also the Lord Mayor Scholarship fund.

    The Medieval Mystery Plays are performed for one week at the end of November.

    Keep up the good work.

  7. the woolly liberal May 18, 2010 at 8:39 pm #

    gerrroooovvy knit-sisters!

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