I had been thinking of going up the Shard tomorrow. But as one of my previous posts suggested, I was having second thoughts. The pricing, you see. Extortionate. I can confirm, I am not going to go. It turns out that the forecast for tomorrow is cloud. I’m not terribly keen to spend £25 per person to have a close up encounter with cloud. I’m not that fond of seeing cloud from ground level, to be completely frank. I’m not a cloud fan. So no Shard tomorrow. Perhaps another time? Perhaps. The urge to see that view is in strong competition with the urge to boycott the place on principle. But then just look at that photo below. That really is one hell of a view. The Guardian have an interactive 360 degree panorama taken from the Shard. The word spectacular doesn’t come close to serving it justice. This doesn’t surprise me. Views from tall buildings are always spectacular.
London is an incredible city in so many ways. The wealth on show in this snapshot is beyond comprehension. Riverside apartments cost millions. But you can pan left and right and see many different Londons. You don’t have to walk far from Tower Bridge to find yourself in dirt poor London. In a walk of just seven minutes you can go to an area where average life expectancy decreases by seven years compared to that of residents at your starting point. That’s pretty dramatic.
Gentrification has been going on a long time. Notting Hill and areas of West London became hip in the 60′s and 70′s. The view points east, down the river. That started to get the treatment in the 1980′s. All those towers of Canary Wharf didn’t exist when I was a child. It was all wasteland, abandoned warehouses and rotting docks. Further away from the river, in the East End stood horrific, crime ridden concrete blocks, built in post war London for the masses. Just a few short years ago this view housed hundreds of thousands of hard up families struggling to stay afloat, browsing the Sun or Mirror in between reading about debt management terms.
‘Genuine’ East Londoners aren’t there in such numbers these days. I’d like to report that the well being and wealth of Londoners is improving. Sadly, the truth is that Londoners are simply being moved out. If the poor were a race, we’d call this ethnic cleansing by economic means. There are a huge number of options for people in debt to utilise these days, plenty of new rights and a lot more support. But that’s come too late for most of them. These days, the view houses people reading the Times or Guardian and writing up debt management plans, ready to sell on the market. East End apartments are actually excellent value as far as London goes. You can rent a pretty nice, modern one bed for little more than £1000 a month. But a grand is still mightily expensive.
Realistically, for the most basic place, you’re going to need an income of £30,000 as an absolute minimum. The average income in the UK is £26,000. It definitely pays to be a couple. I do wonder if the tightening economy might be the best tool in reducing the divorce rate? Want to see that panorama and go look at the view yourself? Click here, and have a look to see what you can spy hiding behind the palaces, towers and Victorian grandeur along the river.