Existing Member?

The original world nomad "Real knowledge is to know the extent of one's ignorance." - Confucius.

some things never change

UNITED KINGDOM | Thursday, 22 June 2006 | Views [1553] | Comments [1]

The spectacular Swiss Re building

The spectacular Swiss Re building

With two young children it's been a while since I actually had a completely free couple of hours to simply wander at will around London, and what strikes me this time is the sheer visual texture of the city. Bricks, marble, timber, sandstone, copper corroded green from rain and time, glass, concrete, steel and decorative wrought iron.All patterns and styles juxtaposed by history and all the more striking for it.

Keeping eyes high above the street there are wonderful gables, windows, coats of arms and statues (I saw Mary Queen on Scots there somewhere). From seventeen century merchants' town houses through the heights of Victorian grandeur, past crass 1970's thuggery to the resurgence of elegance at the start of the twenty-first century.

The contrast between the gentle intelligence of the Swiss RE building as it poses behind the twelfth century gothic church is simply breath-taking. But the trains still stutter along and are only breath-taking for their price and there is something uniquely English about the way 'services' operate here.

Arrival at Heathrow: gateway and introduction to the UK. The lift that goes up to the airport foyer has doors at both front and back, the front one closes on the Australians, Germans and Japanese inside.

"Doors closing. Please stand clear". The vault-like door closes excruciatingly slowly ... closely followed by the rear door opening.

"Doors closing. Please stand clear". The rear door closes ... closely followed by the front opening again.

Sighs. Glances. (especially from the Germans).

"Doors closing. Please stand clear". The front door closes and the rear door opens once more. (We haven't actually gone anywhere yet by the way.)

Giggles. Laughter.

"Doors closing. Please stand clear". The rear door closes ... and yes, the front opens again. Everyone shrugs and piles up the escalator to peels of laughter at the absurd. You could imagine this in Faulty Towers and yes, they were laughing AT the British as this seems to sum up the way the country runs, so it's probably not such a bad introduction.

Tags: airports, architecture, heathrow, humour, london, modern, swiss re




Brisbane-ites are familiar with hearing "Doors closing. Please stand clear." on the train.

  Tom Dec 13, 2006 9:54 PM

Add your comments

(If you have a travel question, get your Answers here)

In order to avoid spam on these blogs, please enter the code you see in the image. Comments identified as spam will be deleted.

About simon_monk

Simon on Sydney Harbour

Follow Me

Where I've been


Photo Galleries


Near Misses

My trip journals

See all my tags 



Travel Answers about United Kingdom

Do you have a travel question? Ask other World Nomads.