I write to you sober, gentle readers. Stone cold sober.

I only need to make this point as I do get a bit carried away on this topic and the more glasses of red wine I drink the more carried away and dewy eyed I get.

We are talking history. The history of the beautiful building I work in. St Mary At The Walls church. We’re talking about the human stories forged between the bricks and mortar of the edifice. The tears, the heartache, and the soaring unbridled joy which has seeped into the woodwork over the years, all the emotions that have run down between the gaps in the floorboards, the spirit soaked into the walls.

The building as a huge sponge for the hopes and dreams, the tragedies and triumphs, the fortunes and the heartbreaks of our forebears. There are bricks in the tower scavenged from Roman Colchester. Two thousand years old.

The heart of the community going back centuries pulsing into building. Our deaths, our marriages, our stolen kisses, our elation at the encore at that gig, when I saw her looking back at me, sweaty from dancing, exhausted by laughing, that time when I fell in love.

Oh dear, I’m welling up here already. I told you it would happen. If I’m like this stone cold sober you can only imagine what it’s like with a couple of your finest merlot in the bloodstream. Get a grip Tone.

There is actually a reason why I am telling you this. We are currently upgrading the toilets at Colchester Arts Centre. A very prosaic way of describing it.

But this is no everyday conversion job. No my friends, this is a project of exquisite beauty. The elegance, aspirational architectural, the joy. Step aside the Taj Mahal and welcome in …The Cistern Chapel.

Here is where you come in. We have invited the mosaic artist Anne Schwegmann-Fielding to decorate the loos with her beautiful mosaic work. We would like our community to be directly involved with supplying materials. So your objects will be woven into the fabric of the building and be part of the new stories we will be creating in St Mary’s.

We are going to be incorporating pennies. As in the idea of spending a penny! Remember that? So if you have any old or new pennies we will be using these.

Anne also works particularly with patterned blue and white plates or crockery. If you have any old ones of these hanging around then we would love to use them in the artwork.

Best for us would be if you would be able to bring them to us. Drop the plates into the big wheelie bin marked for plates outside and post the pennies through our letterbox. Send us a note to say you’ve dropped off as we like to include a list of all the donors somewhere.

If that’s impossible for you because of lockdown or isolation or anything else please just email me or call me and I can arrange for collection. Your old pennies and plates please.

I’m on (07814) 695598 or anthony@colchesterartscentre.com.