It’s apocryphal nowadays to assume the whole country was watching TV 25 years ago this very day, entranced as the titanic yellow pincers of Babcock Power Construction almost succeeded in failing to retrieve the Mary Rose from the bottom of the Solent.
Surely, though, the nation can’t have remained transfixed from breakfast all the way through to mid-afternoon, which, according to retrospective accounts, was as long as it actually took? Having the TV trolley permanently set up in your primary school library was one thing. Skiving off work to spend several hours in the company of Margaret Rule was quite another.
Memory suggests the whole thing was done and dusted before morning break. Reality seems to imply something quite different. And worse: according to the Today programme, they don’t even have to keep spraying the wreckage with that special sealant anymore. Another myth busted.
Can it really be that all of the retrospective nostalgic clutter which got washed up along with all those shards of Tudor nauticalism a quarter of a century ago is now, in fact, redundant? In the words of Prince Charles, “I was slightly horrified but I thought the best thing to do was to be British and not panic.”