An Idle Day in London

10 07 2005

This has been an idle day in London, so idle that not even a museum or gallery was visited. I walked the streets and strolled the parks. I took the train and sometimes the bus. I walked the underground tunnels where the sun never shines, where even a hot summer’s day has a nightly feel. The usual London crowd was missing in the aftermath of the blasts three days ago. I could actually get a seat on each train and bus. However, I prefer the usual energy that is the heartbeat of the city. It is a heart of two thousand years of culture, progress, openness and freedom. London is more than English. It is the cumulative culture born of the world’s influences. This is where the world meets, lives and evolves. So what is an act of terror but a mild shake to its enduring spirit? Where light shines, the dark evils of blind misled beliefs will die a burning death.

In my walks I passed the Royal Albert Hall and the Albert Memorial. Both are beautiful. The resplendent gildings adorning the memorial made the unforgiving sun feel hotter than usual. The parks were strewn with the expected crowds. Apparently people were still visiting London but less by public transport. An unimpressive band played to an inattentive crowd an uninteresting number. I couldn’t tell what or who was to be blamed. I visited the electronic shops on Tottenham Court Road. It was clear on this Sunday that those that were open were run by hard-working immigrants who had made inroads into the import-export trade.

The joy of hearing a saxophone singing to the idle air in an underground tunnel or a guitar lulling the babble of a hurrying crowd was made in a moment, caught in a moment and lasted the whole day. The day concluded with an organ recital at St Paul’s Cathedral. Not impressive at all. This was followed by an evening service where the minister talked of reconciliation and hope, a theme appropriate to the 60th anniversary of the end of the Second World War and also to the more recent acts of terror.

Notwithstanding such a day there remains a conscience pricking feeling within me that the day has been wasted. London still holds much interest to me. I continue to learn something with every visit. But a day of fun and entertainment in London is a transient offering. The satisfaction of a long walk in the open countryside through little villages and their charming pubs far outlive. To some extent I have been indecisive this weekend but the next couple of weekends will see me back on the downs, country lanes and sun-kissed plains.

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