I’d been told to go up the Shard, which now has a viewing platform, at dusk. I can’t say it seemed much at first. The lift ascends, in two stages, so smoothly that you hardly notice it moving. You step out and there’s London-the London you know, although rather more of it than you might be familiar with, given how far you can see from the 69th floor. It stretches forever, in all directions, ending, on the night we were there, in a haze that may or may not be pollution. I was beginning to wonder why we’d come.
But then the magic started. Far in the West, the Wembley Arch became a rainbow. Albert Bridge turned into a tiny fairground attraction. Even the high-rise flats east of the City wore the cloak of poetry, as their lights spangled. Lumpen, leaden London dissolved into insubstantiality.
It was now a delicately wrought tapestry of silver thread. Concrete, brick and stone had been replaced by a panorama of dots and twinkles. The Millennium Bridge morphed into a turquoise ribbon. The chimneys of Battersea Power Station shimmered like lightsabres. The dial of Big Ben floated like a miniature moon. ‘Awesome,’ I said to my 12-year-old son, Charlie. ‘We don’t say that any more, Daddy,’ he replied. ‘The word is beast.’
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