...on that corner of Whitehall by Parliament Square, with the Abbey behind us, and tourists surging, hot and crowded, down along past the sad imperial splendour of the Foreign Office. I had been pointing out the Cenotaph, and waving towards Trafalgar Square beyond. We'd covered some centuries of history and pondered Roman invasion and ancient Britons, Saxons and Vikings and Normans... and high Middle Ages and Reformation sorrows and Victorian gothic revival and 20th century wars...
And we had really finished the day's walk and there was still lots to discuss and the young people from Slovakia and Rumania were still full of questions and comments.
"How was it...I mean, really, how was it...that a small island, away from the rest of Europe...becomes the centre of a great Empire, and now today we all speak English - we learn it in school, and it is spoken in Africa, in America.... How was it....why was it...from just this one small island?"
And I walked back across the river with those words echoing in my heart. How was it... why was it? This island. This beloved small island with its astonishing story, its astonishing place in history.