The current LGF took me up in the world again last weekend.
I had felt a bit Sharded with £25 each pre-booked or £30 walk-in, to admire our fair capital city from 1,000ft (OK, 305 metres for those using new money) from ‘The View’ at the Shard, as I mentioned before
So, what a pleasant surprise to be taken to the newly opened Walkie-Talkie’s fabulous 36th floor ‘Sky Garden’.
This is the building that harnessed the sun’s rays to melt parked cars and bicycles and scorch shop fronts. However, there is no fear of a too hot seat in the highest garden in London.
It’s a magical view and FREE to enter if you pre-book, bring passport ID and subject yourself to full airport-style security.
You peer over the top of The Gherkin (great meal in its nose cone restaurant ‘Searceys’, but only open to tenants and club members – thank you, Roger).
The Cheesegrater at 734 ft (you do the conversion, I’m getting bored) is also close by, but not too close fortunately, as metre-long bolts have been falling out of it on occasion.
Mind you the Gherkin also began to peel in 2005 when a window (and let’s face it there’s nothing but windows on this gherkin’s skin) fell to earth from the 28th floor, and no doubt filled the local Big Mac’s buns for months – just add cheese from the Grater then eat one at work, but it’ll cost you £85 psf (a hard to swallow office rent) and goodness knows what the service charge is, but more than 12.5% I hazard!
When I was but a child, building model houses with a kit called ‘Bako’
– so much more lifelike than Meccano, my dad told me – I harboured an ambition to become an auctioneer, partly fuelled by a record I was given featuring Leroy Van Dyke which you can hear again here
The lyrics tell of a young boy listening to a local auctioneer’s patter (sadly American) and practising himself to talk faster and faster and faster.
I did just the same and, by my early twenties, I was a director/auctioneer of a saleroom in High Wycombe, while also launching my little agency (still only a single branch even now) from my bedroom.
At the time I was also auctioning for other newly set-up salerooms including Twickenham and Highgate, with the tag line ‘Have Gavel, Will Travel’!
As time went on the agency flourished more than the lots and bids, so I concentrated on becoming the largest estate agent in Gerrards Cross, which I still am – by weight only of course!
Now my auctioneering is restricted to local charity events, but I do have one story to tell of these.
As a member of Middlesex County Cricket Club, I was asked to conduct a charity sale for a retiring cricketer’s benefit night in the Long Room at Lord’s.
Having sold all the usual signed bats etc to the dinner-jacketed attendees, I was closing with thanks when the MC, Chris Cowdrey, who captained England in one match, jumped up saying, “We’ve not made enough – sell my socks”.
He promptly took them off and passed them to me on the rostrum. A generous bidder went to a hundred, and I was just about to knock them down when Cowdrey jumps up again saying, “Not enough, Trevor, I’ll pledge a pair of Dad’s as well”.
This was Colin, later Lord, Cowdrey, a legend to cricket fans worldwide.
Further bids there were none until a quiet voice called out “two hundred and fifty” (and this is at least 20 years ago), and I knocked them down promptly.
Bending to my catalogue, I write and speak aloud, “Extra lot 15A, two pairs socks, one wet one dry”.
Then, looking up towards the buyer, I murmur: “I hope your credit is good, Mr ?????”
To which I got a reply that will live with me for ever: “I hope my credit’s good too, Mr Auctioneer – the name is Getty, J.P.”
For those of a younger vintage, John Paul Getty Jnr was a reclusive multi-billionaire oil tycoon – think Bill Gates in today’s money stakes.
Funnily enough I’m doing a little sale for the local Chiltern Cheshire Home this weekend and, by coincidence, Waitrose have donated a bat signed by the 2014 England team.
I hope Mr Gates is in attendance.
I hope you also like the postcard – circa 1938!
Have a great weekend, folks, and get up to a Lot.