“London Bridge is falling down, Falling down, falling down. London Bridge is falling down, My fair Lady.
Build it up with wood and clay, Wood and clay, wood and clay. Build it up with wood and clay, My fair Lady.”
As I tread these streets of London, rain streaming off rooftops, puddles lining the paving-stones like little pools of transient street-art, concentric circles appearing and disappearing within them, I think of this city. This great great city.
It’s two days now after another senseless assault; people were hurt and killed. And my heart cries for them, and for the people who hold them so dear. And as I walk, I look around me, at the city streets through the driving rain.
I wander past London’s squares and structures, buildings and bridges: they whisper words into my ear, reassuring me with their stories from days gone by. History hangs heavy in the air, like mist, swirling through the city’s alleys and gardens, wispy tendrils of history clinging onto cobblestones and brickwork.
Too much history for some. And not always good. But in amongst the narratives of this city – tangling and jostling as they do – lies the very oldest one. One that’s still the loudest and proudest of them all – the indefatigable spirit of Londoners in the face of adversity.
As American as apple pie. So the saying goes. But really what’s more American than the hamburger?
In that meat patty lie redolent images of cattle herded over epic Mid-Western landscapes by sun-scarred cowboys. The cheese as flat and enduring as the emerald Wisconsin pastures it was milked from. And if you put the bun right up close, well you can almost hear the murmuring of wheat swaying in the Wyoming wind. In fact, why not just unscrew a Coke right now, put on some Springsteen, and let’s hit Route 66 in an ol’ open-top Chevy, for this post is pure 100% Americana.
Some folk say the burger’s a little like America itself: fast ‘n free-spirited, big ‘n brash, refreshingly unfussy, yet all a swaggerin’ like John Wayne in True Grit. It’s ubiquitous and it’s egalitarian: from the subways of New York to the shores of California, the burger is relished alike from Walmart stacker to Wall Street trader, from bag-lady to baseball hero.
If American culture’s conquering the globe, burgers are the culinary cavalry. Them ‘golden arches’ stretch far ‘n wide, but it ain’t just an American multi-national carrying the meme: burgers sizzle away atop many a London pop-up stove, small-hold indie pioneers tapping into the American dream. View Post
Religion. Do I go there? What is to gain? What could I lose? And yet here I am. And here beside me is the territory of ritual, history and God. And here’s me stepping into it..
I think most of us have our stories of religion. Whether we grew up with it or not. Whether it was found or it was lost. Mine begins in a Jewish family, quite Orthodox in fact, until I discovered I was possibly atheist, but let’s call it agnostic, but always felt connected to Jewish culture if not belief, now living in and raising a mixed-faith family, rewarded by the richness and challenges that brings, living in a city that’s probably the most diverse on earth. I love that my neighbours are also mixed-faith; in fact between our two houses there are four religions, a fifth if you include our other neighbours. In our local neighborhood, there’s a friendly Sikh gurdwara, a serene Buddhist temple, a vibrant synagogue, the oldest mosque in London, churches from myriad denominations, and probably lots more besides.
I’m constantly intrigued by religion. I revel in its rituals, its festivals, its music, its community, and of course the centrality of food. It can transcend the individual, traversing time and space, helping people in their search for meaning. But as for dogma, division, rigidity and intolerance – well, who needs those unfortunate bedfellows… View Post