It looks more like some futuristic warhead than a pickled vegetable, but what a way to go! A friend and Daily Telegraph journalist claims it was she who first coined the nickname ‘Gherkin’, for Norman Foster’s glass and metal miracle at the heart of the City, on 30 St Mary Axe, but now it’s semi-official. The Gherkin stands on the sight of the former Baltic Exchange and, although plans for a larger Millenium Tower were dropped, like the Twin Towers that building was destroyed in a terrorist attack, from the massive bomb placed by the Provisional IRA. The night before last though there was a Charity-PR-Photo Show at the top of the new incarnation, and that astounding view is a wonder to man and phoenix alike. At night, with an open 380 degree view over sparkling London, sharp and clean in the hard cold, your mind and heart soar, beyond the shiny suites, fizzing champagne and the polite guff, out across the capital; then down, to Tower Bridge, and the Tower of London, like a medieval mecano set, and out along the snaking bend of the river Thames. To its coming rival too, Renzo Piano’s ‘Shard’, looking like a cross between Thunderbird III, only because of the scaffolding, and an architectural Christmas present, waiting to be unwrapped. The Gherkin may not be enormously tall, but it’s what’s in the way that counts, namely nothing, and in that glass and metal capsule, surprisingly light in design, you feel as if a map of the world has been laid before you. Well, at least a map of thrilling and often eccentric city. With a nod to the Institute of Chartered Surveyors, it brings on thoughts of William Blake, no longer wandering through each ‘chartered’ street, ‘near where the chartered Thames doth flow’, but asking a better question – ‘how do we know but every bird that cuts the airy way, is an immense world of delight, bounded by our five senses?”

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