Sunday, July 09, 2017

We were standing in Westminster,...

...on that corner of Whitehall by Parliament Square, with the Abbey behind us, and tourists surging, hot and crowded, down along past the sad imperial splendour of the Foreign Office. I had been pointing out the Cenotaph, and waving towards Trafalgar Square beyond. We'd covered some centuries of history and pondered Roman invasion and ancient Britons, Saxons and Vikings and Normans... and high Middle Ages and Reformation sorrows and Victorian gothic revival and 20th century wars...

And we had really finished the day's walk and there was still lots to discuss and the young people from Slovakia and Rumania were still full of questions and comments.

"How was it...I mean, really, how was it...that a small island, away from the rest of Europe...becomes the centre of a great Empire, and now today we all speak English - we learn it in school, and it is spoken in Africa, in America.... How was it....why was it...from just this one small island?"

And I walked back across the river with those words echoing in my heart. How was it... why was it? This island. This beloved small island with its astonishing story, its astonishing place in history.

1 comment:

JohnofEnfield said...

The Magna Carta established our basic freedoms. The Black Death freed us from feudalism (the shortage of labour allowed the yokel more freedom). The country became Protestant. The Catholic European super powers (Spain & then France) threatened to invade us & wipe us out. So we invested up to 40% of our GDP in the Navy. We ruled the world and became prosperous & capable because of it. The great economic divergence (where we became able to produce enough food to outgrow the constraints identified by Malthus) grew out of all the above & formed the basis of the the world's economic prosperity.


I might have missed a few steps out but you must get the drift. A unique race a unique place.

Thanks for your blog.