Friday, 29 October 2010

54 floors up - only 33 to go...

"Firmly based on the historic form of London's masts and spires.."

I'm in London Bridge most days and simply have to admire the progress of The Shard. An amazing edifice that already dwarfs the tower of Guy's Hospital just a few metres away. I don't know what motivates architects to design steeper and steeper skyscrapers, whether it's an ego thing, a legacy thing or a penis envy thing - but this is a beautiful thing. Or will be. The glass is already on the lower floors giving some idea of just how fragile and delicately balanced the whole building will appear. What a shame I'll never get to go up in it. Vertigo and towering monuments never work well together.

Thursday, 28 October 2010

Words of encouragement for the terminally dull...

Just found this from Sonia Simone on her blog 'How to Beat Invisible Content Syndrome', that just goes to show even in the Bloggersphere, the occasional truth shines out...

Figure out what you’re so scared of

Most boring people have a really scary story they could tell.

If you’re writing and writing and you can’t capture attention, the awful truth is that your content is probably boring. But that’s not the last word on the subject.

No toddler is boring. Maddening, annoying, headache-inducing, sure. But they’re not boring. Humans just aren’t wired to be boring.

You used to be complicated and fascinating. Something made you boring.

Somewhere along the line, you got punished for being interesting. You got ridiculed for being yourself. You got your hands slapped for coloring outside the lines, and you promised yourself you wouldn’t expose yourself to that again.

You might even have had something really heartbreaking happen. Something that stole your spark before you ever really got to share it.

Oprah, if she had never found the courage to tell her harrowing story of triumph over crushing adversity, would have been another Sally Jessy Raphael. A competent performer. A hard worker. Pretty successful.

But not a game-changer. Not a billionaire.

If you’re boring, it’s because you’re scared and you’re hiding your best stuff. Getting un-scared is the hardest thing you’ll ever do, but since you need to do it anyway in order to have a great life, you might as well get started now.

Welcome to Britain

Ports by their nature are generally not the most attractive of places. They're a gateway - you're either going to or coming back from some place and they are just a conduit on your journey. But there's no reason they have to be so dreary.
Take Gatwick, for instance. Yes, it's just a conduit - same as Dover - but the routes to and from it are some of the most high profile advertising spaces in the UK. Imagine how many first impressions of the UK are made on that inaugural journey from Gatwick to London - by road or Gatwick Express. The ads talk about the wealth (high price perfumery and cosmetics), technological advances (phone companies and iPads) and lifestyle choices (theatre, magazine and movie) of the host nation. It is an opportunity to set the tone of the nation, to welcome the visitor. And what do we do with this opportunity in Dover? Once the traveller leaves the confines of the port, the town of Dover sets their expectations with a motley array or boarded up premises, run down, grey social housing, ancient 48 sheet posters - peeling and faded, derelict building sites, a vast, dung brown monstrosity of a tower block, abandoned amusement arcades and roadworks. It surprising any of them make it further than the Esso station before making a u-turn and heading back for the boat.
Of course, the argument the Port Authority would make is that the A2 takes visitors straight from the town so their first impression of the UK is the rolling fields of Kent. And much as I enjoy the majesty of nature, I can't help feeling we're all missing a trick here.