I never tire of the London Eye. Custom has not staled the sight of the great Ferris wheel, the geometry of its arc contrasting with the spikes of the Palace of Westminster. Aviation terminology being a legacy of the original sponsorship by British Airways, I can date my first ‘flight’ on it precisely, as it was on the day my third son, Charlie, was born (he was a Millennium baby).
I took off again, in company with some German exchange students, at the weekend. As the transparent pod inches upwards, London reveals itself as if in an infinitely slow ballet. First, Nelson’s Column is brought onto the stage, then the roof of Buckingham Palace, then Green Park.
Ships, towers, domes, theatres and temples lie Open unto the fields, and to the sky. So Wordsworth wrote in his sonnet Composed Upon Westminster Bridge, and he was right. There’s a lot of green. From above, you see 10, Downing Street for what it is: a building that’s practically a palace, despite the modesty of the front door.
And then the flower slowly closes its petals, and, one by one, the landmarks resume their usual relationship, on the ground. I don’t know what the Germans made of it: I may have been rather more excited than they were.