Brian Micklethwait's Blog

In which I continue to seek part time employment as the ruler of the world.

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Sunday February 17 2008

I love skyscrapers, but tend to regard Middle Eastern skyscrapers as not really counting, because the money that builds them is all discretionary tyrant oil money, as opposed to real money, money-to-make-more-money money.  All that happened was that some Big Bastard said: build the big penis!  No cleverness was involved, until the engineers got to work.

But, it is clear to me that the Shard of Glass is also pretty much a Middle Eastern skycraper.  Red Ken Livingstone worked out years ago that Good Muslims and Bad Muslims are all just Muslims really and all on the same side, and if he wanted Good Muslim money, he had better be nice to the Bad Muslims too.  (All that has now that much more public now.) Which has meant that when the Shard - which, by the way, will be only a very short walk away from the Testicle, where Ken Lives now, and which is surely going to be full of Ken Livingstone Industry parasites - got into financial difficulties last year, he was able to bale it out with Good Muslim money.

So, does this mean that the Shard of Glass doesn’t count, in my eyes?  Not really.  It may be an erection made with discretionary tyrant oil money, but the whole point of London is that it is built with all kinds of money, not just real money-to-make-more-money money.  London is absolutely not pure commerce.  Or pure politics.  It is a Mixed Economy, and its architecture reflects this.  There is lots of real building, for real stuff.  And there are political buildings, which of course tend to stick up and stick out.  And in many cases it’s hard to tell which is which.  Consider those Docklands Towers.  Proper money, or politics?  Both, I would say.  Ditto the Gherkin.  The Shard is more political, but it still includes plans for real stuff.  (Nearby is another superb building, which is also very political, being inhabited by communications regulators.)

It looks from this picture of the Burj Dubai that a Middle Eastern skyscraper can be semi-real too, just like a London landmark, judging by all the apparent reality that it is surrounded by.  A lot like Taipei 101, the building it has just dethroned as the tallest.  This makes me think better of the United Arab Emirates.

ADDENDUM: I’m at Michael J’s now, and he reckons The Shard ain’t going to happen.  It will remain a big hole in the ground.  The money isn’t there, and it’s soon enough to abort it, so they will.