The local TV news yesterday featured the arrival of the tall ship Gloria at Canary Wharf, welcomed by an enthusiastic (they would have to be, to turn out at 7am on a rainy morning) group of London-based Colombians. If you ever wondered what the Colombian flag looked like, this is an emphatic reminder: at a pinch, it could probably serve as an extra mizzen sail (there speaks one who is up on all the lingo, having read a couple of Hornblower books forty-odd years ago).
In today's sunshine, they were welcoming visitors on board (well, on the foredeck at least) well after the advertised hours, such were the queues. Just for a few minutes, you could stroll around, ring the bell, have your photo taken in a heroic pose and imagine yourself in one of those romantic sea movies (we'll forget about storms and scurvy, shall we?).
But you couldn't forget the other great military tradition - "If it moves, salute it, if it doesn't polish it". If ever there was a demonstration of "all shipshape and Bristol fashion", it was in the way every possible piece of brass was polished, every rope neatly coiled.
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