I never see the London Eye without feeling pleasure, tinged with wonderment. Before it was erected, who could believe that a socking great Ferris wheel would be given planning permission, bang opposite the Houses of Parliament? In fact, the original permission lasted only a year, but by the end of that time, it had proved such a hit with the public that, eight years on, it’s still there.
It will probably continue to grace the Thames in 80 years time. Whereas the contemporary Millennium Dome in Greenwich is still tainted by controversy, the great wheel seems to inspire nothing but joy. I glimpse a sight of it every day, its sleek arc and space-age pods juxtaposed to the crockets of Big Ben. I am thrilled how it is lit up at night, the colours lending warmth to the miserably early evenings at this time of the year. It’s glorious.
I remember my first trip: it took place on the day my third son was born. It was a treat for his two elder brothers. Recently, my eldest son’s geography project took us back. On a sharp autumn morning, the gradual ascent, with London opening out before us like a flower, was as magical as ever. ‘Earth has not anything to show more fair,’ wrote Wordsworth of London from Westminster Bridge. Think what a poem he would have written 440ft up in the air.