The all singing, all dancing blog of Alex Guite

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Private Eye, huh? Say no more, say no more, sir

What with RAG week, lab and everything else this week, I didn't have a chance to buy a copy of Private Eye on campus when it came out. So I figured I'd head to my local neighborhoodly newsagent to pick one up after campaigning.
I couldn't see a copy on the shelves, so I asked the shopkeeper.
Me: "Do you have any copies of Private Eye?"
Shopkeeper: "Private Eye?"
Me: "Yeah, Private Eye."
Shopkeeper: "Private Eye... hmmm... I don't know that magazine" [Gestures to top shelf] "I do have a range of other titles you might be interested in Sir"
Me: "Er... Private Eye is a political satire magazine"
Shopkeeper: "Oh"
Me: "I think I'll try elsewhere"
Fortunately not far away in a second newsagents, the shopkeep was far more helpful when I explained that I couldn't see the popular political satire magazine. Ironically, it was hidden behind a copy of The Spectator, an unpopular political magazine.

As I mentioned, the reason behind these Private Eye shenanigans with local newsagents was RAG week, which went really well. I was leading Tours of the Queen's Tower, and I think we've had the most successful year since I re-started the tours three years ago. We showed over 300 people up the Imperial College landmark and even had to extend tours on Friday to cope with demand. Thanks to all the volunteers who helped give tours. Apologies to any budding sight seers who we had to turn away. I'll let you know how much we raised once it's all counted.
Those who were lucky enought to get a space on Thursday's tours were witness to a range of meterological phenomeon all within only half an hour: from blinding sun to hailstones. On the final tour of the day, I had another Queen's Tower first: the first time I'd seen a rainbow from 100 metres up in the skyline. Apparently rooted in the Albert Memorial, there really was gold at the foot of this rainbow (I guess gold plating counts, right?). The other end appears to be rooted in the city, where there certainly is gold.

Update (18/02/06): I've just found some more pictures from Thursday's tours, no rainbows here, but better lighting than the ones I posted on Wednesday.

Some great views South towards Battersea Power Station.

Stunning clouds over the Albert Hall. The Albert Memorial appears to stick out of the top of the Albert Hall, because both of them and the Queen's Tower were built in a quasi perfect straight line. Something about the superiority of the monarchy and ability to draw straight lines.

Great lighting looking to the East towards Westminster and the City. There are no end of landmarks to pick out!

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

One hundred metres up in the London skyline

In what has become an annual tradition for me now, I'm leading tours up the Queen's Tower for RAG week again this week. If you're around on campus tomorrow or Friday swing by for a tour from myself or one of my crack team of tour guides (tours leave at 12:00, 12:30, 13:00 and 13:30 and cost £3, proceeds to Barnardo's). Get there early, Tuesday's tours were all over subcribed! Don't forget that this is a once a year opportunity: the rest of the year the tower is under lock and key.
For only three quid you get humour, historical insight, 324 steps, very little headroom and great views. Even after factoring in recent trends in the 'low headroom' market, each of those elements are worth more than £3 on their own.
Indeed, the views are particulary fine this year: the recent batch of cold but crisp weather lends itself well to uninterupted views across London.

So the moral is this: grab a camera, head to the Queen's Lawn, go ahead and give more than three pounds, enjoy the tour, get some great views.