“After a coffee I ended up in Ely Cathedral. I find cathedrals quite difficult to resist and Ely Cathedral, at 5.30 on a bank holiday afternoon, has very little competition. I also have a bit of a thing for meditating in cathedrals although I’m not very good at it, either in cathedrals or out of them, suffering too much with the chattering monkey, he of the insomniac parties in my head and all that; but it feels nice to try to meditate in a space like a cathedral and you do get a sense of the space even if all you do is close your eyes and feel the sheer volume of the enclosure around you. However, I always feel a little self-conscious sitting there in the nave with my eyes closed not quite looking like a normal person would if they were in prayer, nevertheless, I have always thought, if you can’t meditate in a church then where can you?

From a rational perspective you might get the same sense of enclosed space from any other large open building, but there aren’t that many to choose from other than churches and cathedrals. Some office buildings might have large atriums as might some industrial buildings but I’m not sure I could bring myself to sit, eyes closed, in the atrium of the Lloyds building with all those suits and loud jackets around me, not to mention the sound of mobile phones going off and people shouting “Buy!”, “Sell!”, and “What the hell am I doing in the Lloyds building shouting all this nonsense? I’m a commodities trader from the nineteen seventies!”

Abridged extract from In SatNav We Trust – A search for meaning through the historic counties of England.

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