“Chip, is there only one angel of happiness who is amused by you and who sits on your shoulder?” Someone very close to me once told me this a long time ago. As I was preparing this blog post about my visit to Lutine Bell at Lloyd’s yesterday, I was thinking of her words.
My thoughts on the previous criticism of my turn were caused by an article, The historic London Clock, banned from the public:
There are only two ways for the public to see Lutine Bell placed in a proud place in Lloyd’s underwriting room: to hope that Lloyd’s attends the next Open House London, or if you know someone who works there, they can arrange private tours. Otherwise, unfortunately, you have no luck when it comes to getting a glimpse of this piece of nautical history.
. . . .
The clock began its life on the French naval frigate La Lutine, which was captured by the British at Toulon in 1793. The ship was subsequently renamed HMS Lutine and sailed under the British flag for six years as a battleship and then as a transport ship until its last voyage to Germany in 1799.
On October 9, 1799, HMS Lutine transported a large sum of gold and silver insured at Lloyd’s and on its way to Hamburg, when the ship was blown down on Dutch sandbanks and sank. Of the 240-strong crew, only one survived, and the entire ship’s cargo was lost. It was a big blow for Lloyd’s financially, but it also cemented the company’s reputation for settling even the most incredible losses.
Many attempts were made to recover the cargo with limited success, but in 1858 the watch was picked up from a tangle of chains and eventually hung in Lloyd’s underwriting room at the Royal Exchange. When Lloyd’s moved to Leadenhall Street, and then to Lime Street where it is today, the clock moved with it.
The watch had a very important purpose at Lloyd’s. When delayed ships entered security, the bell rang twice to the sighs of relief from underwriters. If a ship was lost, the bell would ring once. In this way, everyone knew the fate of the ship and the cargo they had insured at the same time.
So, just seeing this watch is something happy. According to my way of thinking, if a happy angel were really on my shoulder, the two of us would have found the gold and silver on the sunken Lutine. Me and my happy shoulder riding friend would take that treasure and earn more in Monaco.
But if you look at it in a different way, I’m glad that none of the boats I’ve sailed got a watch. So maybe that angel needs a little more love from your truth.
My own happiness has been curious all my literary life; I could never tell a lie that anyone would doubt, or a truth that someone would believe.