The other day Demos announced the results of a poll of what symbols made us proud to be British. Shakespeare came out top, followed by stuff like the Pound, the Beatles, the Union Jack, our armed forces etc. Missing from the list, some eight years after her demise, was Concorde, a symbol which – had she still been flying – would otherwise have figured in the top 10, surely. I am reminded of a friend who, some thirty years ago almost, said: “We only have two things to be proud of in this country: Concorde and David Bowie”.
I am writing this now, only because today is the anniversary of Concorde’s inaugural service from London to New York, in 1977. A time when the economy, like today, was in very poor shape. Not quite the same as the early 2000s, when the Air France disaster happened. Millions were invested in modifications to make both fleets of Concorde safer, yet Air France and British Airways scrapped them in 2003. British Airways at that time was run by Australian Rod Eddington. An accountant.
I was one of the relatively fortunate few who flew on Concorde, not through wealth, I must emphasise, but rather as an occasional document courier. But like most people who live within 30 miles of Heathrow, I was a fan. You could set your watch by Speedbird’s take-off and landings and you never, ever didn’t look up as she roared past high above you. I’ll never forget driving on Heathrow’s western perimiter road as she took off a few hundred feet overhead. The van rocked, the goosebumps instantaneous. Ahhh, how we miss her.