Britain woke this morning to the news that it was now ‘isolated’, following the Prime Minister’s withdrawal from the Euro talks. On Radio 4’s Today programme, host Justin Webb seemed close to succumbing to an attack of the vapours. Lord Owen and Douglas Alexander filled the airwaves with the sound of grinding axes…
Happily, City-type Terry Smith was on hand to restore perspective with a well-chosen analogy: “the UK is as isolated as someone who refused to join the Titanic just before it sailed.”
Launched from a Belfast slipway in 1912, Titanic has provided an unsinkable metaphor for hubris, misadventure and disaster for just shy of a century. As Terry Smith showed today she continues to provide the mot juste. I’m confident Titanic will sail on for years to come.
However it’s the end of the line for another of Britain’s hoariest metaphors. On the very same edition of Today, an engineer from Balfour Beatty announced they had finished painting the Forth Bridge.