When I told my erudite Churchwarden about the splendours on view at the V & A, from the John Baptist Chapel in the Church of S Roque in Lisbon - an apotheosis of the concept of the prefabricated building; it was commissioned by King John and made in Rome, blessed by the Pope, and then assembled in Lisbon - "I've seen it all", she remarked, "in a nice little museum in Lisbon that nobody ever visits". Well, people are coming to gawp at the exhibits now. That's what the blockbuster exhibition is all about: hype. The V & A already has a set of galleries immediately to the left of the main entrance, full of exquisite baroque exhibits. When I have a bit of time to waste in London, I drop in and have another look. Except that I don't, because it's pretty well always closed (economies) when I want to drop in. It's open now, but, of course, with lots of gaps-with-labels denoting the exhibits which have been moved upstairs to the blockbuster.
The other feature of the blockbuster is the big glossy book. What I don't like about these is that they are all full of errors. Year after year, I shake my head in disbelief at the errors in latinity and in what the 'Art Historians' write about Christianity. Of course, I am not an Art Historian. But - tell me if you can spot a gap in my logic - since in the very limited fields in which I am competent, including Latin and Liturgy, I find these volumes riddled with errors, I can only assume that the sections on subjects on which I know nothing are equally unreliable.
So I've stopped buying them. Except when I am particularly interested in what the exhibition is about. And I must confess that I do regard Baroque Liturgy as the highest point of human cultural development. So I bought the book. And my fears were, as ever, fulfilled. Particularly in the area of Liturgy. Which is pretty unforgivable, since the V & A is literally a stone's throw from the Brompton Oratory, where there must be something like a dozen clergymen who could have looked through the text and alerted the author to his mistakes.
The author in this case is a halfwit called Nigel Llewellyn. (More later.)