This is what I think happened:
I had a cold. A nice, regular cold that would eventually give up and I would get better. But then, I went on the Tube in London. And, as everyone knows, the air in the Tube is its own special kind of icky. And something that I breathed in combined with my cold and transformed into some sort of plague that will eventually bring down humanity.
But before that happens, I want to write about this second trip to London.
Like I said before, seeing Big Ben when I came out of the Tube station was... wow. It really felt like that sudden shock of familiar. I knew where I was, I could get around without difficulty, and I was good. It's kind of strange the idea that I can get around a city like London without getting too terribly lost. Granted, I didn't go exploring snickleways or strange alleys, but I didn't get lost, either.
Unlike last time, I did decide to go into Westminster Abbey, and while there I took one of their guided tours. The tour was amazing, but sadly not because of the quality of the tourguide. The guide seemed so bored, like he had done this so many times he couldn't understand why anyone else would want to take the tour. On the other hand, taking the tour gets you into areas that you can't get into otherwise, like the actual tomb of Edward the Confessor. You get to spend some time wandering around in this area that is dominated by royal tombs, like Richard II and Henry III, but there was no real historical context for any of them. I mean, I know this stuff, but most people don't, and that was frustrating.
(Of course, this is where my coughing got so bad that the person leading the tour had to get me a glass of water. *sigh*)
But, putting aside the boredom of the guide (a priest of the Abbey), the building itself is outstanding. I had caught a glimpse of it the first time I went in for Evensong back in December, but seeing the whole thing was just so overwhelming. I can't even describe the size of this abbey....
It actually reminded me so much of places like Lindsifarne, or Kelso, and the ruined abbeys there. I never really got a sense of how big they would have been until I went into Westminster. These sites would have been huge, and they're all in ruins and stones now.
I'm not sure what I'd say the highlight of the tour itself was. Inside the Abbey is the tomb of Elizabeth I and Mary Queen of Scots, as well as Henry VII and Elizabeth of York. There is also some amazing stained glass, and the details of the floors, the ceilings, and the walls... well, it's amazing.
One thing, though, is the burials and the memorials throughout the Abbey. No one's buried there anymore, but for some time people were, and you walk over the stones without thinking so easily. There are memorials up to various poets, writers, artists, and actors, as well as scientists (the one to Newton is beatiful) and politicians. They cover a lot of the walls and the floors. The Bronte sisters are there, as is Lewis Carroll.
The tour ended not all that long before Evensong was to begin. This time was different than last time in that it was a guest choir, and with the time change it was still afternoon light filtering through the windows, and I was surprised at how bright it still was when we got out of the Abbey at 6. It felt like it should be dark, like there should be a hush over the world after the beautiful music and the awe-inspiring setting.
I know I've mentioned before that I'm not religious, but I do recommend Evensong at Westminster Abbey if you're ever in London. It is the most beautiful call to prayer I've attended yet, and it's very moving. It's... well, it's beautiful.