My wife works for a bank in the City of London, and I frequently meet her there. Well, I used to before lockdown.
Although large swathes of the City were destroyed in the blitz of the second world war, much remains, and when I visit, if I observe carefully, I get to step back into almost 2,000 years of history.
Under the ground of the Guildhall, just yards from my wife's office in King Street is a Roman Amphitheater, and under the new Bloomberg building behind Bank Station is the Roman Temple of Mithras, now some 20 feet below ground.
Opposite the Bank of England is the Royal Exchange founded in the 16th century by the merchant Sir Thomas Gresham.
But what I love more than anything are the old coffee houses of the 17th & 18th centuries - no, they are no longer there, but if you search carefully, you can find where they once stood.
In 1652, Pasqua Rosée, a Greek, opened the first coffee stall in the churchyard of St Michael's Cornhill, a few minutes walk from the present-day location of the Bank of England.
Ten years later, in 1663, there were over 80 coffeehouses within the City, and by the start of the eighteenth century, this number had grown to over 500.
These old London coffeehouses were the engines of creation that helped drive the Enlightenment – the European intellectual movement of the time that emphasized reason and individualism rather than tradition. Their history is a fascinating one.