On 14 June ’14 we celebrated our 50th wedding anniversary in London, England. Here is what we saw
Noon: Trooping the colors — the celebration of the Queen’s birthday. Huge crowds, many carrying backpacks. Huge police presence. We saw the queen riding in a carriage, princess Kate and husband, and at least 3 sets of mounted horsemen all wearing tall bearskin hats.
Nothing happened a la Boston marathon (fortunately). Talked to some of the police who told us that there were many secret service types embedded in the crowd.
1 PM: While eating lunch in a nearby Italian bistro, police came down the street, and taped off half. The were followed by 2,000 or so members of the Jesus Army, singing and dancing and inviting all to march with them down to nearby Trafalgar Square. All ages, nationalities were present (no burkas though of which there were many everywhere we went in downtown London).
2 PM: While walking to St. Paul’s a few miles away for Evensong at 6:00 — more police, more tape. Then cheers went up as about 200 nude bicyclists rode past. No one in the crowd said put it back on, but these weren’t playboy and playgirl centerfolds.
3 PM: Trafalgar square, with the Jesus Army — a stage set up and a Christian rock band blasting away. Happy crowd. Onlookers polite if bemused. Nude cyclists not in evidence.
4 – 5:30 PM — While leisurely walking to St. Paul’s, the nude bicyclists would unexpectedly appear from a side street and then disappear down another just as quickly. They certainly caught our attention, too much to see what the reaction of the ladies in burkas and head scarves was (I wish I’d looked).
6 PM: St. Paul’s Cathedral — it must be experienced, pictures simply don’t do it justice. We were able to sit in the apse in the seats for the choir, listening to the service and the music, perhaps 10 – 20 feet away from clergy and 40 feet from the choir. As a musician, it was fantastic to hear liturgical choral music in the physical space it was written for. When the singing stopped, the enveloping sound took a few seconds to die away. Chilling and thrilling. A Bach organ fugue finished the recessional.
7 PM: My wife and I describe ourselves as hunter gatherers in bookstores, and Waterstone’s in Pickadilly Circus (a bit of Atlantic City moved to London) didn’t disappoint. Said to be the largest bookstore in Europe — very great browsing material, with lots of comfortable places to read. Glad to see Nicholas Wade’s book prominently displayed (about which there will be several posts). They’ll mail anything you buy to the USA for a 10% surcharge, another bookstore was charging 9 pounds a book. Our stuff arrived in under 10 days quite well packed and intact.
9 PM: Dinner at Cichetti’s near Pickadilly Square — an interesting Italian restaurant with excellent food, with an unusual style of serving and ordering.
Possibly a few sociological and historical notes about our 2 weeks in England.
A lengthy review and page by page commentary on Nicholas Wade’s book (thanks for the gift Ashutosh).