I’ve wanted to go up to the top of The Shard for ages – or at least, ever since I stopped worrying that something was going to crash into it and destroy SE1. So when I got a call asking if I’d like a ticket, I obviously squeaked to the affirmative, even if I’d only be up there for 10 minutes, having to beetle across town to The Audience.
Yesterday was not a good evening. Unless you were John Carpenter.
Mind, it hadn’t exactly been a great day either. But a trip up The Shard is a trip up The Shard! Anyway, we got there hugely early, and the staff very kindly said we could go up a bit before we were scheduled to. So we filled in time in the gift shop. Now, I love a gift shop – I actually did a little “gift shop!” sigh when we were told to wait there. But wow, there is some awful shit in there. Some lovely wall prints and silk scarves aside, everything looks as though it’s been bought off the back of a lorry and screenprinted.
The official Shard-approved biscuit was taken by the photographs. What a lovely idea, getting a professional photograph taken at the top, right? Oh my sadly mistaken friend.
You have your photo taken on the ground floor, next to the gift shop, and the backdrop is superimposed for that authentic abducted by aliens with the power to make everything in focus.
My favourite bits of the whole building were the lifts, which went at about a bajillion miles an hour, and had been decked out with cinematic bits and bobs to make travelling 30 floors at the time feel like a cross between staying completely still and being crammed into a very short burst of a space film, or Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.
Even before you enter you’re treated to a wall-mounted light show showing where all the different lifts are, which excited me more than it probably should even for someone who is a known lover of lift travel.
I kept waiting to turn a corner and see expensive people drinking Champagne, but none of the bars or restaurants seem to be open yet which is missing a MASSIVE trick because, clearly, the one place you want to get spangled is when you’re a trillion feet in the air, or about to get into yet another bizarre lift.
One of the corridors to yet another lift was covered in rambling phrases about London, including Camberwell! Yay Camberwell! Boo for the last, plain corridor which looked like it had only just been purchased from IKEA.
Anyway, then we got to the top. It was like being in Silent Hill – The Shard was hysterically, absolutely surrounded by cloud. This poor old couple looked like they were contemplating jumping, or at least the fact they’d just paid £50 to look at mist.It really was just…strange. There was this ghostly choral music which might have been quite nice and moving on a clear day when you’re oohing and aahing, but just served to make you feel UTTERLY FREAKED OUT by not being able to see a damn thing unless you stared down, in which case you could just about make out some lights from the streets below.
Back inside to some shiny, shiny walls and floors, and some night vision telescopes showing you what you would be seeing if you weren’t trapped in a Doctor Who peasouper episode from 1874.
There were a couple of people walking around in fits of laughter at how utterly impenetrable the cloud was. I thought the whole thing was utterly hysterical too – but then hey, I hadn’t paid.
One nice thing though: despite this being a work freebie, our tickets had been paid for and booked in advance, and it turns out we were given vouchers to come back another day when visibility is better. Til the next time – I shall Shard once more.