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There were around twenty of us all in, standing two or three abreast in a large open-plan room with a parquet floor, corniced and embellished ceilings, and three massive windows which were at least two people high. The view outside was of a city. But where I expected to see New York or Paris or London or Tokyo, I saw somewhere I could not place. There were skyscrapers, many taller than the building we were in now, none of which I could recognise. There was nothing in the mix of people that would give me an indication of where I was on the planet - no single group that would indicate a country or even a continent, a truly diverse mix of people.
We were waiting. I didn’t know what for, but whatever it was must be important and would be viewable from this elevated position. There was a definite sense of occasion, but whether the feeling was positive, negative, happy, or sad - I could not tell. I tried to catch the eye of the man next to me - a middle-aged guy with slightly greying hair, fashionable clothes, and an eye patch of black rubber. Whether it was that his lack of peripheral vision didn’t allow him to pick up on my attempts to silently interact with him, or whether he was ignoring me was uncertain. I tried the girl on my right, a teenager who seemed to be ocularly complete, but still paid me no attention. I tried a friendly ‘hi’ to break the ice. She didn’t acknowledge or even notice my greeting. I began to feel just a touch paranoid. I moved away from this pair and found a new spot, this time just behind three elderly ladies. Their expensive, yet slightly threadbare, coats were draped in expensive scarves wrapped around the shoulders. They would normally have had hats, I seemed to think, but none were present. Their hairs were a rainbow of rinses, red through green to blue. I did wonder if perhaps they were just one woman split as if viewed through a prism.
It seemed to me that they looked friendly enough, so I lightly touched one on the shoulder. There was no response. I tried again, slightly harder. The woman’s head turned, but rather than towards me, it moved in the opposite direction to her neighbour. She opened her mouth to say something, yet no words came out. This was odd. I certainly wasn’t deaf - the tap on the shoulder had produced a definite, silent brushing of cloth sound, and the lift that I'd come up in (yet strangely had no recollection of) was whirring and chiming in the background. Was I actually here? What were we waiting for?
Then a surge, or more of a ripple as it was a slow movement, of people towards the window, packing in tighter. What were we waiting for - the clock showed five to one - perhaps this event was starting at 1 - I’d find out soon enough.
The sky was perceptively darkening. The clouds, previously a light grey - near white - had grown dark, charcoal to ink. Whatever was going to happen was starting.
Up Renzo’s Shard. London. November 2021. Nikon d750
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