Here we are in picturesque St. Albans, UK - a pleasant little town - population 6,000 - with a 3,000-year history and situated less than an hour from the very center of London.
St. Albans has Roman ruins (from when the British isles were a [conquered and occupied] part of the Roman empire) as well as litter from KFC (the current global empire which has conquered, and is occupying, most of the charted world).
The town was named Verlamion in Iron Age Britain (around 800 BC) when religious practices centered around human sacrifice and animal slaughter to mollify the many local deities and nature spirits. Because they weren’t that easily mollified, these deities eventually migrated eastward, and of course, as everyone knows, became the French. This is corroborated by all the arrogance, irritating smugness, extreme obnoxiousness and particularly pungent body odor that scientists associate with demoted deities and spirits, once they become overly fashion-conscious and cheese-obsessed.
The Romans renamed the town Verulamium, which means “You will hold your nose in times to be, when they are French” (although some archaeologists argue that the more accurate translation is “I’m not glad to see you, it’s just a fresh baguette”).
The Romans always insisted on renaming all of their conquered regions - which is how New Mexico, New Jersey, New Orleans, New Zealand, New Delhi, New Jack City and Newt Gingrich - all got their names.
Aden and I really quite like it here. As far as towns go, St. Albans is a special place. There are literally 200 phenomenally excellent, world-class restaurants and cafes. There are cathedrals dating from the 11th century and numerous buildings constructed during the reign of Henry Vlll and the lifetime of Shakespeare. There’s plenty of open space, greenery, variety, and all the amenities of urban life - and all within easy walking distance. And the people are friendly (I mean, of course, for Brits, that is).
The town’s namesake, St. Alban, is Britain’s first Christian martyr. He lived in the 3rd century (based on some of his earliest tweets). Reportedly he had only just heard of Christianity and learned its basic tenets, when he decided to convert. As being a Christian was still illegal, he was immediately arrested; and when he refused to endorse the Romano-British religion he had practiced his whole life up until that week, he was speedily beheaded. Christians still honor him today for his courage and fidelity - but it seems to me he may more rightly be the patron saint of stubbornness, inflexibility and exceedingly short-term thinking.
Be that as it may, Aden and I have both genuinely fallen in love with this special little town, that offers so much more than most. We’re really glad we came, even though we may well be the only visitors with no interest in setting foot in any of its 102 pubs.
St. Albans just works for us. India’s just become too difficult, for too many reasons (to our dismay), and our beloved village in the Fiji rainforest is just too bumpy to get to, for my poor old body - now that it’s coming into its 8th decade (which is also why I can never go horseback riding again).
But St. Albans is just right. Cheers, mate.