Southwark is within earshot of the bells of St Mary-le-Bow church. This defines me as a cockney - possibly the only people group defined by a sound. I was named after Guy's Hospital. My middle name is Guy: Laurence Guy Platt. I really want you to get this: my darling baby girl is now leading me to Guy's, the place I was born ...
I live in the Napa Valley in California where anything older than a hundred and fifty years is considered old. We walk past Southwark Cathedral near Guy's. It's been a house of worship for over a thousand years. The first church was built on the site in the year 606 AD. St Thomas à Becket preached here. We enter and sit on pews.
I lean over to Alexandra and whisper to her "Do you realize people have been praying in this exact same place where you and I are now, for over a thousand years? It's almost incomprehensible.". She lets out her breath and whispers "I know.".
We walk on along the Thames, Alexandra leading the way until we come to William Shakespeare's Globe Theatre.
Look what happened.
Today Nelson Mandela's grandchildren are graduates of Werner's work in South Africa, and Mark Shuttleworth is the second civilian on the planet to pay a space agency $20,000,000.00 to travel by rocket into outer space, having invented the possibility of doing so in his Landmark Advanced Course in South Africa.
Alexandra, already working on a dissertation about South Africa and the effects of segregation on economics, asks me if I'd like to see Nelson Mandela's statue in Parliament Square in front Westminster Abbey, Big Ben, and the bobby guarded Houses of Parliament. "Of course" I say, overjoyed by this experience of Alexandra showing me her London, "I'll go anywhere with you.". We turn a few corners ... and there he is. I walk up to him, strangely moved. This isn't him. It's a statue of him, a representation of him, a symbol of him. And yet Nelson Mandela being who he is, it is him. "Pretty cool, Madiba!" I think to myself. Twenty seven years in solitary confinement breaking rocks on Robben Island, then having his statue in Parliament Square alongside Sir Winston Churchill and Abraham Lincoln, is worthy of a dictionary entry as the definition of "pretty cool". Thank you Girly for bringing me to meet Madiba in your London.
She moves really fast. To keep up with her I have to hoof it. It doesn't seem all that long ago when I was striding through airports with my then young three children in tow, and Alexandra calling out behind me "Slow down Daddy!". My oh my, how these tables are turned ...
Like many experiences, saying too much about it imposes my version on something which by now, for the most part, belongs to the whole world. Sharing this experience with Alexandra and having her here with me to witness it, is thrilling. It's validating. It's beyond description. Here's a perfect photograph Alexandra took of the occasion proving it really happened.
Then she takes me to the Science Museum. My favorite hall (our favorite hall actually) houses the space exhibit. Among literally too many amazing items to count, there's a glove worn by Yuri Gagarin during man's first ever orbital space flight. There's a piece of moon rock encased in a nitrogen filled plastic box so it never comes into contact with Earth's atmosphere. No, the moon's not made of green cheese ... but it does uncannily look like flinty dark gray feta.
There's the actual Apollo 10 command module (it's truly hard to look at it and not be totally blown away, to not have an experience of real awe) replete with its heat shield now deeply charred by it's superhot descent back to Earth's surface through the atmosphere. There's also what Apollo 10 blazed the trail for: the Apollo 11 LEM ie the Lunar Excursion Module.
It's not the actual Apollo 11 LEM. This exhibit's only a replica. But with a little imagination, you're in your space suit standing here right beside it on the lunar surface, looking back at our fragile planet which from this distance, is covered by and disappears completely behind your extended thumbnail.
|Communication Promise||E-Mail | Home|
|© Laurence Platt - 2013 through 2016||Permission|