Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Heart Of Glass

I knew it was the BAFTAs last weekend. Not because I read it anywhere, but because they'd blocked off Bow Street to build a massive lighting rig for the red carpet.

I love seeing what's going on at street level as I amble through the centre of the universe every morning. On the bridges and near railway stations, increasing numbers of Boris Bikes are ridden by fellas wearing suits and wool coats. In Covent Garden it's the morning after the night before: Brakes are delivering boil-in-a-bag food, and Coe Vintners are replenishing the booze supplies. Someone from Addison Lee is driving his MPV shockingly badly past some rather dazed-looking people in Soho who maybe, just maybe, are still partying.

And then there's the building works. The roadworks in Dean Street - gone today, hurrah! - were there because there's a cave underneath the road full of BT equipment.. which had collapsed. The top end of Tottenham Court Road is completely closed off at the moment as they build the new Crossrail station.

But this is the Daddy, going up near London Bridge:

The Shard of Glass, from Southwark St in Borough

Get up close and the sheer bulk of it is overwhelming; a monster! I can see it from home in Bermondsey, and I wouldn't be surprised if, once it's finished, I can see if from Baker Street as well. Recently in The Sun the crane driver who works at the top recounted how, one day, he was above the clouds, and the only other thing he could see was the top of the tower at Canary Wharf. Geometric leviathans flashing their red eyes at each other over our heads.

Love it or loathe it - and I'm in the former camp, I think - the Shard will be talked about for years, and it's a privilege to watch a landmark slowly emerging from the grubby streets behind the train station. I can't wait to go up inside it.

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