On Thursday 5th July 2012, at roughly 10.45pm, thousands of people were seen leaving the City of London. They all appeared to have the same disappointed expression etched onto their faces. I recognised the expression, as it was also etched on mine.
We had all just witnessed the grand finale of the inauguration celebration of the Shard.
After I had heard about the Pyrotechnics happening on Thursday night, I really wanted to see what the organisers had in store for the good people of London. As I only live in Stratford, I toyed with the idea of watching the night unfold on our rooftop terrace (trust me, it sounds more exclusive than it actually is!), however, I felt that any photographs I would have captured would have lost their effectiveness due to the distance. Therefore , I decided to get a closer look and, at 10.10pm I found myself standing on Fish Street Hill with my camera in one hand and a pint in the other (purely for refreshment you understand!).
It appeared that I wasn’t the only one with the same idea, as the pubs in the vicinity were doing a roaring trade. However, judging from the people who were wandering away with drinks in hand, any profits would have been slightly offset by the loss of several drinking receptacles.
As the clock struck 10.15, the throng of people gathered many (many!) thousands of feet below looked up in unison towards the building we had all come to see, light up like a Christmas tree, just as promised.
We had been promised a dazzling laser show that could be seen for miles, however, what was witnessed was something slightly different. The Shard was bathed in colour, slowly alternating between such colours as red, yellow, purple and blue. What appeared to be searchlights illuminated the base of the building, while the promised laser show actually resembled a couple of bored students flashing laser pointers out of one of the many windows (with an approximate 11,000 panes of glass, there’s a lot of windows to choose from!).
After 15 minutes of the ‘Shard show’, it became apparent that this was going to be the extent of the theatrics and so I found myself taking in the view around me, as, by this point I had found myself in the middle of the road on London Bridge. People now outnumbered the vehicles on the road. There was even a double decker bus that had been abandoned by the driver and its passengers!
As the throngs of people started dispersing and London Bridge started to return to normality, I started towards Bank tube station to make the short journey home. I started thinking about the nights events and why, more importantly, were we, having been provided with a free show, so disappointed with it?? It’s not every day that the tallest building in Western Europe is officially opened with a light show.
In the run up to the big day, we had all seen various images of what the Shard light show had in store for London. Beautiful pictures of the London skyline were splashed with colour and were all over the media. To be honest, the images looked spectacular.
However, in the day and age of airbrushing, CGI and Photoshop, it is easy enough to promise the Earth, but not so easy for it to be delivered. We are always told that the next concert, next festival, next night out is going to be the best ever. The same goes for technology, ranging from computers, televisions, cameras, games consoles and phones. We are constantly bombarded with adverts via the TV, computer, the internet, magazines and newspapers. Social media has also played a factor with its ability to spread news far and wide in a short space of time. With the explosion of events that take place around the globe, there always appears to be another on the horizon.
There is another factor involved, ‘the fear of missing out’ (FOMO), something that all of us have suffered from one time or another. I believe I have always suffered from FOMO all my life, as my parents would surely tell you!
Obviously, disappointment can sometimes stretch to travelling. I was chatting to someone I know (who will remain nameless!) who seemed to suggest that he had been disappointed when he’d visited Angkor Wat. Now, I don’t know about you, but that’s a sight I would never get bored of seeing! But, everyone is entitled to their opinion, even if it’s wrong! There are very few places in the world where I have felt distinct disappointment, whether just travelling through or staying. However, if pushed I would say that the capital of Laos, Vientiane, is probably the only place I have visited where I was aching to leave as soon as I had arrived.
A few years ago, the people gathered in readiness of the laser show would have thought it was amazing. Now, people just shrug their shoulders and vent their spleen on Twitter (I especially enjoyed the LOTR parodies!).
However, disappointment is not always a bad thing. It doesn’t hurt to have a little disappointment as it helps make us appreciate the good things in our lives.
So, do you think we are all more difficult to please nowadays? What is the biggest disappointment you’ve had when you’ve visited a country you’ve always wanted to visit? Perhaps it’s not a country, maybe it’s an event?
Now, onto the Olympics……….the best ever!
by Gavin London