Town mouse visits Cutty Sark

About 13 years ago, I spent a lot of time in Greenwich. A publisher had been farsighted enough to commission me to write a book about it, predicting that, in 2000, the Millennium Dome would be a triumph. Oh dear-how unwise to second-guess the British public. The soufflé of expectation collapsed. But our boys, young then, did get to know Cutty Sark.

We went back to Greenwich at the weekend. Cutty Sark, apparently destroyed by a fire in 2007, has been miraculously restored. Miraculously, because far more of the original fabric of the ship has survived than one would have thought possible.

Everything above deck was away for restoration when the dust extractor overheated; the fire, although immensely hot, roared upwards, leaving the hull intact. It’s now what they call a state-of-the-art visitor attraction, meaning that, only days after the opening by The Queen, some of the touch screens are already out of order. But look at the blade-like sleekness of the hull, now that you can walk underneath it. It appears to have been covered in gold plate.

Behind the National Maritime Museum, they’re erecting the stadium for the Olympic equestrian events. All eyes will be on Greenwich. I shan’t risk a prediction. But the auguries look good.

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