I enjoyed Giles Coren's dismissal of the all-but-completed 'Shard' of London this week (Times, Opinion, 'A glass spike through the heart of London', Sat April 7th 2012). As you have to be a subscriber these days, it's worth quoting rather extensively from him:
"Have you seen the Shard? Of course you have. If you're in the top half of the globe on a sunny day you only have to look out of the window in any direction and there it is. It is not a building - they haven't even bothered to make it a shape, it's just a stupid fleck of glass like a thing for monkeys to worship in a sci-fi film - it is a middle-finger flipped at every Londoner for miles around... ...the Shard, this great cash spike, this engorged rectilinear monument to fat-cattism, this humongous steel haemorrhoid, has been dumped directly behind St Paul's... so that the great dome that has kept watch over us for 300 years... seems little more now than a pale and weedy poly. A two-dimensional bunion on the sandalled toe of the giant, steel, one-legged Qatari demigod... It is a thing of typical, macho Gulf state hideousness... It is a big pin. A nothing. A lance for Mammon's boil. Cultural antimatter. A mockery of our history, culture and identity. A symbol of the failure of our economy, our banks, our politics, our sovereignty and our sense of self."The references to the Gulf made by Coren relate to the consortium of Qatari investors who own an 80% share in the building (£150m). Interestingly, as a Sharia-compliant investment, banks and investment firms involved in gambling or alcohol industries are very unlikely to get permission to occupy a space in the building.