I Went To the Top of the Shard and Felt Feelings
The whole building is the punchline to someone else's joke.
I’m crossing London Bridge, looking at the Shard rising up in the skyline like the punchline to someone else's joke. Obviously, I realise that its spikiness is quite clear to anyone who has seen so much as a picture of it. Obviously, the whole point is the spike; the name means spike, it’s a 72-storey building shaped like a big slash of glass to stand out in a sea of square blocks. It’s the highest building in the European Union, the architect having been inspired by paintings of church spires and the masts of sailing ships. But there is something fantastically aggressive about that spike when it's all up in your sky.
And then when you walk right over to it, stand at the base, you twist your head back onto your sore neck to peer directly up at it, and it just narrows away into forever; the sightline making a pact with the infinite. Then it’s like the punchline to someone else's galaxy. It’s rude. You know, technically, that the vanishing point is the bit you can’t even see. But the more you look up, feeling dwarfed by the angry monologue of glass, the more you feel that the vanishing point is you.
At which point I had to stop having so many emotions about molten sand and go inside. There was a record label party happening at the very top of the monologue. A listening party so people could hear the Daft Punk album before it came out – but it’s a very shy record that doesn’t enjoy the attention, so I’ll try not to dwell on it. In fact, the album itself is a vanishing point, scarcely mentioned in the media in any form. The point is that there was a lot of arse-waggling and swankery to be done. There were free lychee cocktails and somebody actually spooning some caviar into my mouth. I don’t know if that equates to punk or daft or just having oral sex with a fish.
There were 360-degree views to be photographed and music journalists running round going, “It’s like the 1990s! When record labels used to fly you to Tokyo for a week to eat seared dolphin with a drummer who in fact lived on your street in Tufnell Park!” There was a man who turned to the man next to him and said, "I'm 25, I feel like I should be somebody?" There was a no smoking rule on the very top viewing platform as you were, in fact, still surrounded by glass, even though I was so confused by the fact you could see through the falls that I thought I was outdoors. So I’d just like to thank the security guard who didn’t actually have me ejected for lighting up inside the Shard.
There was Arthur Baker videoing hot blonde girls dancing to the music like sirens and another cameraman filming me and my friend Mark Moore dancing to the music like mums. I met Mark a hundred years ago when my friend Nadia and I were snotty little club kids who used to talk shit on Livejournal about the ageing relics we’d seen at Nag Nag Nag, and how people like Mark Moore – who was the man behind S-Express – and Boy George and some dude from Frankie Goes to Hollywood should all be at home having a lie-down and letting us lot get on with it. Mark got in touch to say they’d all sat round having a good laugh at my horrible writing. We’ve been friends ever since.
There was Jude Law at the bar at the top of the Shard, and a girl complaining to him that she couldn’t get served and could he get her order because, you know, he was Jude Law. And Jude saying he was quite sure they would all get served eventually, and then the vibes between them, like metal, and then a photographer coming and asking Jude for a picture, and Jude putting on his best photo face and then looking around him, perhaps for someone to put his arm around amicably, all shiny. Except the first person he found was still the girl waiting for a drink, so he didn’t bother.
And then there was the Giorgio Moroder song – okay I am going to have to talk about the music. Just this one. It builds, like a drug that you’ve taken and you know is coming but then you aren’t sure if you want it or not. Little flecks, electric sparks, coming off it as it builds. It’s too sure of itself, making you a little unsure of yourself. It sounds like something you wanted, and now it’s here you want it to stop, because it scares you. But you sought out this nightclub fear, and you know you did. It grows up around you, getting louder and bigger and enormous.
And then it’s the best thing in the world, amplified in a glass tower over the top of said world, where the speakers can’t even really handle the acoustics and the sound is actually a bit fuzzy, but never mind, you just want to bury yourself in them like that time you went to Fabric when you were nine months pregnant because the only thing you could find that was bigger than you was noise.
And just then, when you are lost in it, having become its vanishing point, it’s over, and now it's just a man playing the piano, which makes you feel a bit sad, and then just at that point a friend you’ve not seen for a while comes over and asks you how your daughter is, and then everything is a lot. And funny. It’s really funny. Here we all are, up a 72-storey glass tower, feeling all of our feelings at once. Memories randomly accessed or otherwise.
The next day Mark and I go househunting, because he wants to move. He’s been in his place a long time and is ready for a change. The estate agent wants to know what he does for a living. “He’s the king of acid house!” I say, helpfully, to a Foxtons man, bemused in his suit. Mark laughs and says he’s had The Sun on the phone that morning, asking him about the 25th anniversary of acid house and he’d had to remind them that they said it was the work of the devil back in the day. Scare stories about how it would take your children away to a terrible fate. The guy from The Sun laughed, too, apparently. Nothing lasts for ever. Even fear is a vanishing point. The only thing that stays the same is the sky, even when people try to jab their phallic towers of glass into it.
Follow Sophie on Twitter: @heawood