You think the Shard is tall? You don't know tall

The Shard may be big for London, but it's dwarfed by really tall buildings.

The Shard opened on Thursday, to much fanfare a disappointing laser show, but regardless of the questionable symbolism behind the fact that the biggest building in the city is a monolith to the power and wealth of a group of foreigners (a situation which reminds me of nothing so much as the Citadel from Half Life 2's City 17), one thing which everyone is agreed on is that it really is very tall.

It's not. It's a tiddler. Sure, it may be the biggest building in Western Europe – at least until Paris's Hermitage Towers are finished around 2015 – but compared to really tall buildings, it hasn't got a chance. 

Via the Mirror, here's a view from the top of the building:

For the sake of comparison, here's that same view replicated using Google Earth, with all those pretty 3D buildings:

Here's what it looks like if you put the Burj Khalifa, the biggest building in the world, at the same location:

The Gherkin is dwarfed in the bottom right, and see that green line in the middle distance? That's Hertfordshire. This is what tall looks like.

What the Shard lightshow should have looked like. It didn't. Photograph: Getty Images

Alex Hern is a technology reporter for the Guardian. He was formerly staff writer at the New Statesman. You should follow Alex on Twitter.

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On Wheels

A new poem by Patrick Mackie

The hills swarm and soften towards the end of the day just as
flames do in a fireplace as the evening
loosens and breaks open and lets out night.
A nasty, grotesque, impatient year ended,
and the new one will be bitter,
tired, opaque. Words wrangle in every inch of air,
their mouths wide open in stupid shock
at what they have just heard every time they hear anything. Venus,
though, blazes with heavy wobbles of albeit frozen
light. Brecht, who I like to call my
brother just as he called Shelley his,
has a short late poem where he sits by a roadside, waiting
while someone changes the wheel on his car,
watching with impatience, despite not liking
either the place that he is coming from or
the place that he is going to. We call it
connectivity when in truth it is just aggression
and imitation writ ever larger. Poems, though,
are forms of infinite and wry but also briskly
impatient patience. Brecht’s poem seems to end,
for instance, almost before you
can read it. It wheels. The goddess is just a big, bright
wilderness but then soon enough she clothes
herself again in the openness of night and I lose her.

Patrick Mackie’s latest collection, The Further Adventures Of The Lives Of The Saints, is published by CB Editions.

This article first appeared in the 18 May 2017 issue of the New Statesman, Age of Lies

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