I last traveled to London in December. I had been there many times before, but this visit had a renewed level of excitement because it was to be the first with my kids in tow. I was eager to introduce them to the things that caused me long ago to fall in love with this city; sure, Tower Hill and Buckingham and Trafalgar and the Christmas window dressing at Harrods, all the postcard attractions. But just as importantly I wanted them to feel firsthand its role as an astonishing cultural mixmaster; an ancient stoic seat of empire that welcomes millions of its former subjects, from the West Indies to Africa to Asia, to live and work and create. Just as certainly as London is St. Paul's Cathedral, it is also a plate of tandoori in Southall. Most of all, I wanted them to interact with that charming and eccentric folk, the Britons. People like my new old friends the McMuffins, who proved to be the best pub mates ever despite our obvious political differences. How a people this civil and polite and funny once conquered half this earth, God only knows.
We logged many hours on the Tube and buses that chilly week; District and Circle and Bakerloo Lines, getting a rich taste of the city. Not to mention countless Cadbury bars from the Underground's insidious chocolate vending machines. It was no surprise when my kids rendered their verdict on the train back to Heathrow: "London is the best city ever." Today, it still is. And I look forward, more than ever, to returning.
May God bless London, the entire UK, and our nations' enduring kinship.