To most people, the City means work: to me, it’s a foreign land, visited for sightseeing. The Queen might feel the same way; I learnt that City of London police helmets don’t bear the royal arms because it’s an independent state-she has to ask permission to enter. I went there three times last week.
The object was to go up St Paul’s-an ambition formed by my 15-year-old son William, who has been reading Simon Schama. On day one, an organisational crisis meant we had to rush off to collect William’s youngest brother from school. We were in position at 4.05pm the next day, only to find that the cathedral had just closed. Instead, we saw St Andrew by the Wardrobe, learning that the royal wardrobe, on a par with Elton John’s, had been next door.
It costs £17 for an adult and child to enter St Paul’s. I would have paid more to avoid going up to the Whispering Gallery, let alone the open metal staircases inside the outer dome. Still, the Monument, seen the day before, had been worse. Caius Cibber carved an allegory of the Restoration of the City after the Great Fire. What about one depicting its Revival after the credit crunch? Justice (blindfold, scales) conquering Greed (banker, bonus) and Envy (tabloid editor foaming at the mouth) I leave you to imagine the rest.