I was caught in a downpour in Chichester this week and sought sanctuary in the cathedral.

I’m rarely in there, not being a true believer, but it is a magnificent building.

Whether you believe in the Almighty or not, organised religion has a pretty strong claim on inspiring the most awe-inspiring architecture and art in history.

On the rare times I seek its tranquillity, I’m always sure to say hello to my old friends Richard FitzAlan and his wife Eleanor of Lancaster.

Ok they’ve been dead since 1376 but I hope they’re pleased to see me.

Richard and Eleanor lie side by side atop one of the tombs, her right hand in his, dogs at their feet.

Richard was a fairly typical nobleman of the time, catching the King’s eye by fighting at his side in wars against the French and Scots and being given titles and huge tracts of land as reward.

It guaranteed him a place of sanctuary in the afterlife along with all the other land grabbers who are entombed at Chichester.

The church always knew which side its bread was buttered on. The 14th century serfs are probably buried in an as-of-yet undiscovered ditch on the outskirts of town.

But the couple’s history is the least interesting thing about them. In the last century they were given new meaning by a bald-headed, middle-aged curmudgeon called Philip Larkin who also happened to write poetry as if directly transcribed from the Gods.

After a visit to Chichester in the early sixties, he wrote one of his most famous poems, An Arundel Tomb, which saw through the medieval bling and privilege and focused on those eternally clasped hands and the endless love they signified.

For Larkin all changes around the couple but they remain forever. Consider these lines: Persisted, linked, through lengths and breadths of time Snow fell, undated Light each summer thronged the glass.

How powerful are they? Snow always falls and shafts of sunlight sometimes pick out the couple’s marbled contours but all that is temporal while the couple continue their never ending “voyage”, as Larkin calls it.

And what of the poem’s famous last line: What will survive of us is love.

Larkin was ambivalent about its meaning but as the rain beat down outside and more “endlessly altered people” took shelter, I left Richard and Eleanor in peace believing that the Earl and his wife are proof that the poet must be right.

The Argus:

This week is Afternoon Tea Week.

I welcome it. Anything that starts the fight back against the vats of coffee people permanently clasp in their hands is fine with me.

When did we start paying the best part of a fiver for a pint of thermo-nuclear brown stuff?

People drink it walking around supermarkets doing their shopping. Hell the queue at motorway petrol stations now snakes through the aisles so people can take back the beverage into their cars to drink it while driving in a high-speed, high-risk game of chance.

I’m a refusenik. Tea’s my thing and, in the immortal words of my old Nan, it has to be strong enough to “tar the insides of a navvy”.

So I’m going to join in this week. Don’t expect me to crook my little finger and nibble on a crust-less cucumber sandwich though.

Talking of my dear departed nan, she did have a way with words.

The aforementioned phrase presumably harked back to the days when builders laboured on the infrastructure of Britain stopping only for strong, sweet tea to revive them.

My favourite phrase though came one day when she was moaning about her new hairdo.

‘It looks like the wreck of the Hesperus’, she shrieked. I never understood how wonderfully funny a metaphor this was until much later when I did some research. The Hesperus was a galleon sunk off the coast of America in 1839 and subsequently made famous in a Longfellow poem.

It’s only when I think of it at the bottom of the ocean, smashed into smithereens with tattered sails and then think of my nan’s hair I realise an unheralded wordsmith was at work. Larkin would have approved I think.