Wednesday, February 11, 2009


I took a stroll this evening past an apartment complex called The Savoy. This was an interesting coincidence: two blog entries ago, I included an excerpt of Thomas Macaulay's History of England describing The Savoy as a notoriously lawless area in London. However, the apartment complex, a quadrangle of three-story brick apartment buildings, showed no conspicuous signs of squalor or vice. No tawdry woman emerged from the shadows, purring, "A bit of grog and a bit of fun, guvnor?"

Thinking of London reminded me of my favorite Evangelical preacher, Martyn Lloyd-Jones (1899-1981), who for many years was the pastor of the Westminster Chapel in London. My bookshelves are full of transcripts of his majestic sermons, which have been described as "logic on fire." As I walked, I recalled that I had made a brief vacation stop in London in 1976. I could have visited the elderly Lloyd-Jones then. But, unfortunately, in 1976 I had not heard of him or been exposed to his fine books and the opportunity was lost.

I walked on, somberly considering that I could even have met Albert Schweitzer (1875-1965). Our life spans overlapped enough to make a meeting possible. I would have needed help getting to Africa, naturally, and I would have only been thirteen years old during his last year. But what a fine experience it would have been!

When I got home, I checked Wikipedia (a resource used by the lazy to acquire superficial knowledge) to answer the question: why name an apartment complex after a London slum? Wikipedia revealed that there is a famous five-star hotel named The Savoy in London. It appears that gentrification of the locale has taken hold in the past three hundred years. The apartment complex was merely trying to trade upon the hotel's reputation.

Wikipedia also explained why the 17th-century area of The Savoy was so lawless. The Savoy was land owned by the Duke of Lancaster and was not subject to the King's legal jurisdiction. Consequently, London debtors could flee to The Savoy to escape the King's justice.

Finally, I searched Wikipedia for Albert Schweitzer's biography and found he was an Alsatian. Another odd coincidence: Alsatia was the name of the other lawless area in London that I had referenced in my blog entry. Schweitzer wasn't born in London, of course. He was born in the province of Alsace-Lorraine, which before World War I was a region of Germany. But, nonetheless, what are the odds of encountering the names of The Savoy and Alsatia in the same evening?

These coincidences are making me feel like a character in a Douglas Adams story, like an Arthur Dent on the verge of some life-changing event. When I mention something in the blog, a coincidence propels it into my life. I have only one thing to say about this.

Daljit Dhaliwal