September 10, 2008

London Calling

Sunday was my last day in London, and it was just about the first day that I felt human and well rested when I woke up. (The irony of finally getting the better of the jetlag the day before I incurred it again wasn't lost on me.) I drank tea in my hotel room - my hotel room had a kettle and teacups rather than coffeemaker and mugs, examined my map, and finally decided that I would just wing it. Just let it happen. I would get on the bus, and I would just... go. Wherever the bus went, that's where I would go. I put £50 in my pocket, armed myself with a sock to knit and an apple to eat, and bravely went forward. What happened for the rest of the day, I'm not even sure how to describe. I wandered, I had good luck... I had strange happenstance and lonely moments. I had so much, that I'm not even sure that I can give you a blow by blow of every moment, so full was that day. I've struggled with how to write about it for two days... (though not really yesterday, when I was so jetlagged that I scarcely worried about personal hygiene) and I've decided you'll have to live with highlights. That day was mine, and there are parts of it that I'm just keeping.

Highlight One:

I attended St. Paul's Cathedral for the Sung Eucharist. Many of you will know that I often say that I am a godless heathen, which is to mean that I do not keep with any particular church, and that I am (gasp) an atheist. This doesn't mean, however, that I don't respect or enjoy religion in general, and as a matter of fact, there is a very great deal I find my personal moral code has in common with much of organized faith, particularly when it comes to the basic rules that almost all faiths.... and all good people, have in common. (It is the interpretation of those rules that defeats me. Stuff like "Thou shalt not kill" or "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you"being interpreted as "Thou shalt not kill unless you happen to think that the other person isn't really a person because of your own rules" or " do unto others as you would have them do unto you unless you think that simply being a human isn't a good enough reason to receive human rights" is a problem for me. I would have been invited to no parties at all during the Crusades.) I loved the sermon (topic involved how being a good Christian must include being an environmentalist, should you respect the work of God at all) and was profoundly moved by almost all of the sentiment. When I was offered a sign of peace, and made that same sign to others, and the organ swelled and the choir sang, I was filled with an enormous feeling... A respect for the monumental force that is human faith. Although I don't place my faith in a supreme being whom I believe to be sentient, I am faithful. I have faith in the goodness of people. Faith in the love I have for my friends and family, faith in the love they have for me. I have faith that people will almost always do the right thing, especially if they are not hungry or poor or homeless, or worried about becoming hungry or poor or homeless. I have faith that most poor human behaviour is driven by ignorance, not cruelty. I have a mountain of faith, and that was what I had in common with everyone else in that church. Faith. Different sorts of it, but faith nonetheless, and it was a very human and binding experience.

Highlight Two. (Click to embiggen stuff)

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Architecture and statuary. Love it. Enough said.

Highlight Three.

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Standing at the Tower of London and thinking about Anne Boleyn actually being imprisoned and executed there.
(I have recently read The Other Boleyn Girl.)

Highlight Four:

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More stone stuff, randomly found and devoured like treasures. (As Ken said "London certainly does not lack for "big and old". )

Highlight Five:

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My previously unknown superpower for finding marching bands instinctively. (This is lucky, considering that I love parades and anything at all the has anything to do with one.)

Highlight six:

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Walking in Chinatown, lunching in Soho.

Highlight Seven:

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Randomly being found by a knitter and blog reader as I watched The Tour of Britain.

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Hi Jennifer! (I asked her how she reckognized me, and she hedged. I asked her if it was the hair, and she said "I'm not going to tell you what you already know.) I loved the look of the people nearby as they clearly thought she was absolutely nuts when she asked me to hold her sock for a picture, then the way that they just about dropped dead when I produced a sock from my bag and asked for the same. I love messing with non-knitters.

There was more, so much more.. but I can't tell you all of it. You'll have to go see for yourself. London is an incredible place.

PS:

Knitheathhome0708

I totally knit on the plane all the way home. No problem.

PPS: Ignore that wine. It is a very long flight.

Posted by Stephanie at September 10, 2008 12:31 PM