Remember that? Remember "The hour of Euope has dawned", the immortal words of the exquisitely well-named Jacques Poos, pride of Luxembourg and President of the Council of Europe?
Anyway, after the Americans finally got tired of Europeans circle-jerking and bombed the crap out of Serbia, a few brave matelots in Whitehall broke with consensus and pointed out that if we'd had a proper flat-top it could have operated a wide range of British air assets from a few miles offshore, saving wear and tear on pilots and machines and generating a far greater sortie rate than land-based operations, without requiring the by-your-leave of any neighbouring countries or the enormous expense of setting up and defending bases on land.
My word, really? Gosh, and you say that 90 percent of the world population and even more of its wealth lies within easy reach of the coast? Who'd ever have thought it! And that if a couple of far away choke points are closed off by regimes hostile to us, the whole country will grind to a halt in a matter of weeks? Oh, don't say that, it's too awful to contemplate!So after the Tory ditherers were kicked out in 1997 the new bunch came in and said "Let's have a Defence Review!" And they did. And it confirmed that British strategic vulnerabilities require aircraft carriers. Roll on another ten years of British bureaucratic buggering around and finally they were ordered.
So now, two decades since the hour of Europe revealed the need for them, not only does the Royal Navy not have the big carriers but the dynamic duo of Cameron and Fox have disposed of, or disarmed, the mini-carriers that had been holding the line for the last 40 years - because the RAF Tornados can do just as good a job until the Typhoons are equipped to take over.
Except that, once again, they have demonstrated that they can attempt to do so only by using up all available air-to-air refuelling assets and burning up the flying hours of their pilots so that they can't even sustain the pitiful sortie rate with which they began to Libyan intervention.
But depend on it - Cameron won't permit a reversal of the original decision. It takes a man to admit he was wrong, and he is a conceited boy playing at being a grown-up, so far out of his depth it almost makes you feel sorry for him.
But not nearly as sorry as I feel for the people whose present and future welfare he is supposed to be taking care of.