Woke up this morning to some terrible news. The Cutty Sark, a London landmark has gone up in flames. As yet we do not know how damaged the ship is, but from some amateur footage acquired by the BBC it doesn’t look good.
People around the world will be talking about the uniquely aerodynamic hull, the tea races from China, its place in the heart of anyone who has ever run the London marathon. In what I hope is not a premature epitaph, I’d like to offer a little more on what the Cutty Sark means.
I grew up in south-east London, spending large chunks of my time working and drinking in the pubs of Greenwich. The Cutty Sark was a place to meet before heading to the park for some summer-time loafing. A brief nod en route to the riverside path leading down to the Thamesfront Trafalgar Tavern where Dickens set a scene from Our Mutual friend, or the wonderfully eerie foot-tunnel that dives under the river. Or perhaps a place to meet that girl you fancied a little bit. You couldn’t miss it- the masts peeked out over the top of most buildings in the area.
And like anything that you take for granted, you only realise how important it is when it finds itself in a bit of trouble. Anyone who has spent time in Greenwich- the post-modern indie kids, the salt of the earth pound-a-pinters, the pierced rebels, the champagne socialists (it’s quite an area, believe me) - will be crossing their fingers. Lets hope it pulls through.