The bells, the bells ...

A lesson learned on Cheapside

Had a splendid time on Sunday's Central Line walk. A great group of people, who made the journey through part of the red line's City section a real pleasure to lead. And as with all the best walks the flow of information wasn't in just one direction ...

The bells, the bells ...

Outside St Mary Le Bow church on Cheapside, home to the legendary Bow Bells, I did my spiel on, for instance, how far away they could be heard before London got built up (to the north it was 5 miles, Tottenham-ish range). And Tony O'Connor (you can find him on Twitter @TheTonyO) chipped (chimed?) in that there are 12 of the bells, each inscribed with a Psalm or New Testament quote, the first letters of which spell out ... ‘DWhittington'.

Priceless. The man who heard those bells urging him to return to London now has his name on them. Or rather their replacements - the current ones date from the 1950s, the previous ones having fallen victim to the attentions of the Luftwaffe in 1941.

At the other extremity of the church - its crypt - can I also recommend the cafe there? It can get a bit packed with City workers during lunchtimes, but go for a coffee at any other time and you'll enjoy some peace in a truly historic setting.

P.S. the next Central Line walk is Saturday April 21st, 2.30pm - and there's a District Line walk on Sunday April 29th (also 2.30pm). Let's see what I can learn then ...


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Rubik's Cube

A Rubik’s cube has more combinations than light travels inches in a century. This is my favourite illustration of how a very small number of factors can produce an absurdly complicated situation. A silly little toy, with only three squares in each of its three dimensions. How can that get complicated? Well, as anyone who's ever tried to solve one just by guessing will tell you, it gets very complicated. The number of possible combinations is 43,252,003,274,489,856,000. Forget billions - that's 43 quintillion and change. (In fact the cube's manufacturers just said ‘billions' in their advertising, figuring that no one would know what a quintillion was. It's a billion billion.) The number of inches light travels in a century, meanwhile, is a mere 37,165,049,856,000,000,000. Or thereabouts.