The trip from Edinburgh to York was pleasant. This particular train is operated under the Virgin organization (Virgin Atlantic, Virgin America, Virgin Records). It seems an odd decision to label one’s corporation with a term meaning “inexperienced,” even if you mean it in the nicest way, when the product you are selling, high speed travel, is among those where we usually want experience. The desire for inexperience is only valid when the customer is driving, so to speak.
The land along the northeast corner of England is bucolic. Sheep roam over large green pastures. Less often, one sees cows and less still, horses, but none are crowded into the fattening pens common to I5 in central California.
Whether viewing from a train or by air, one sees that the landscape of central Great Britain and Ireland comprises small patches of pasture or produce delineated by rows of trees. This is obviously less efficient than the hundreds of square miles of corn and wheat farming common to the American “bread basket,” but it is less damaging to the top soil. I’d feel better if our food were produced this way.
The town of York is dominated by a big church, called York Minster. It can absorb the better half of a day to gawk at. The church has been under construction for about 1400 years. One has the impression that there was a time when someone thought construction would end. A roof collapse, a couple of fires, failing lead around the stained glass, vandalism, and acid rain have removed unjustified optimism. I was about to ask whether the guide thought these plagues might be the wrath of God, but in houses of worship, I feel an unwelcome guest without sarcasm.
These arched doors are from the inside of a room not used by parishioners. It shows how every square inch of this edifice is elaborately carved. The pointed arches appear designed so that the arch bishop and other high officials can walk upright without snagging a pointed hat. No pope. This is not a Catholic church.
The grounds are also attractive. One can easily see that Pope Francis’s desire to get his minions to focus more on the poor and needy can be difficult when priests get swaddled in marble and fed foie gras. The clergy’s palaces are a concession to the corrupting influence of luxury. But who would dress for Sunday mass held in a large shed? Well, maybe evangelicals in America’s deep south, but not the Brits.