We met at London Bridge station. It was just before ten. We had cameras, binoculars, lots of excited smiles and four complimentary tickets to go up the Shard. There are advantages to living in Southwark.
The Shard staff are so cheery and friendly I wondered if they had been recruited from Olympic and Parlympic Gamesmakers. They smile and welcome you into the building, past the panels of pictures with celebrities, people from history, artists, sports people in collages of London. Elizabeths I and II on scooters with dogs; Cliff Richard flying high in a nightshirt holding a teddy bear as the Peter Pan of Pop; Andrew Lloyd Weber jamming with Mick Jagger; Tracey Emin stepping onto Raleigh’s proffered cloak.
The lifts whoosh you up to the thirty something floor, the ceilings a pattern of changing seasons. Then another lift for another thirty something floors, and you arrive at a platform where the view is obscured by blue painted sky on the windows. This, staff explained, is in case you are overcome at the height. In internal staircase next for the first proper viewing platform.
We were incredibly lucky. After rain at nine o’clock, the skies were clear and the sun shone. We looked out across our city, and beamed at each other. It was like London 2012 all over again. We separated, staring out and across the view. We clicked, we pointed, we found each other and favourite landmarks.
Despite being surrounded by bigger, and often ugly, buildings, the Tower draws the eye.
As does St Paul’s.
And the Eye. But I had to remind myself to look for Buckingham Palace.
On the outdoor platform on the seventy-second floor the wind whistled round us. At first I hugged the space near the stairs, but the view is so great I forgot my fears.
“T’es contente?” I asked my friend Patricia. She laughed. “You cannot visit to London without coming to the Shard,” she said.
You heard it here.