If Einstein can have a Unified Field Theory why can’t the rest of us?
Here’s mine (David of London Walks writing here).
If you want to picture it picture this guy…
… with rays running out from him in all directions. Like shook foil. Like rays of light streaming out from the sun.
(Don’t need to worry about the halo, it’s already there – you can glimpse part of the arc of the halo in the upper right hand corner of the image.)
The gentleman – love the ear ring, the sizing us up look, the wild hair, the tash and raggedy beard, the high forehead (you pretty much know what’s behind a dome of those proportions) – is of course Shakespeare.
I turn to Shakespeare again and again – whether it’s history or politics or literature or love or human behaviour or music or nature or society or whatever. He’s always there with something. Not just something – with the spot-on right something.
Anyway, my eureka moment – my Unified Field Theory moment – came late last night when I was thinking about Ruth’s Urban Geology walks. I’d been re-reading Romeo & Juliet. And suddenly there it was, these lines:
O, mickle is the powerful grace that lies
In herbs, plants, stones, and their true qualities
Mickle means much or great.
The kicker is of course that third noun in the second line: stones.
Floored. I was.
Because it perfectly describes the “power” that’s in those stones’ stories. Simply astonishing stuff. What a granite – for example – went through to become a granite. (Love Ruth’s line: “Granite is like ice cream, there are many different flavours but they’re all essentially the same ingredients.”) And what it’s “seen” in its millions of years of existence. Let alone what its properties and characteristics and specialities are.
To see their “true qualities” – as we do when Ruth takes us “into” those stones and their back stories – is to change, profoundly, the way you see London.
My best American pal lives in Manhattan. He went on one of Ruth’s walks. Two hours moving through London with a group of people of whom everybody – Ruth excepted – had their mouths hanging open in wonderment pretty much the whole time. And the upshot? David – he’s Little David, I’m Big David – says every time he goes out for a walk in Manhattan he’s looking at building stones and internal monologuing “I wonder what Ruth would have to say about this stone – or that one directly over there.”
And as for “grace” – well, that’s Ruth and her manner, her complete command of her subject, her delight in it, her delight in sharing it with those lucky enough to have plumped for one of her walks, her story telling, her fun and sense of humour. To say nothing of the twinkle in her eye.
It’s not just stories in stones, it’s a pas de deux with those stones and the extraordinary events and millions of years (billions in some cases) they crystallise.
Conclusion: if Shakespeare is able to “reach out and share” – let alone be spot on – about stones (and in particular an Urban Geology London Walk – well, why wouldn’t you look at Mary (“the boss”) with a wild surmise and burble, “I’ve just discovered the Unified Field Theory. He – the UFT – was born in Stratford in 1564. Worked in London. Lives in all of us. And explains everything. To perfection.”
A London Walk costs £10 – £8 concession. To join a London Walk, simply meet your guide at the designated tube station at the appointed time. Details of all London Walks can be found at www.walks.com.