I'd been in there a bit but had assumed that the true cross room was closed to the public, as there was a railing and guards between you and the reliquary. But my friend Jason (works in the Bodleian, Jewish) said no, it's open to the public, anyone can go, let's go right away! and we went.
We walked part the guards, opened the gate and stepped through. I was lugging my work bag, and it got caught, uprooting half the railings (which were cheap rubbish, clearly just for show) in the process. We left the guards repairing the fence, and walked to the back of the room and the reliquary.
The reliquary was the sort of dream architecture that makes perfect sense in context but which you would never encounter. A large square box a little taller than us made of old golden-brown wood, with a front wall that could be folded out in different configurations; to allow entrance to worshippers, display the relics, form a makeshift altar. Jason opened it for me, and I went inside.
I have to admit that I was awed. There was no headroom; you had to kneel to fit inside, and the first thing you noticed was the soft hollows worn in the wooden floor by the knees and hands of the faithful. Jason shut the door and I knelt in the dimness, not daring look up. When I plucked up courage to look instead of wood I saw metal; three long, savage spearheads in a weapons rack. I looked around the room and all of it was crowded with weapons; swords, spears, flails and worse, a grim, nasty, threatening sight ...
I gave up looking for the cross fragments and left. Jason had gone, which made me anxious. Also, someone had redecorated the room with lots of rugs, futons and throw-cushions in bright acid colous (predominantly pink and green). And there was lots of my stuff all over the place. I started trying to put it all in my bag, as behind me they reconfigured the grim reliquary into a jolly-looking altar decorated with yellow flowers (brrrr), but there was too much, I'd need carrier bags. One of the guards came over to me, and (worried that he'd think I was stealing stuff) I struck up conversation about how I didn't really approve of using so much squishy stuff for the redecoration. He agreed, seemed to warm to me.
It occurred to me that it might be better if he did decide I was stealing the stuff, then I'd be able to leave it there rather than having to lug it home.
In other news, the price of fame has gone up to £14.26, and people are *still* blaming me for Barbie and Ken's much publicised break-up despite the fact that these pages contain NO BARBIES. The (automatically generated) messages from our ISP read, "About your Alleged Website Bandwith Excess" ...