The Shard, London
Picture it. December 2010. Christmas Eve. A meal with the family, then slipping away on a 120-mile round trip, to stand, shivering, on the top of a crane. Suffice to say, my family thought I was mad.
Arriving at London Bridge Station and parking my car, the night becomes a blur. I can't even remember exactly who I was supposed to be meeting. Either way, I was early. A lap of the site couldn't be a bad thing though, so I set off on foot, looking for obvious changes from our previous reccys.
It occurred to me at one point that there were rather a lot of people loitering around the base, and it took me a minute to realise exactly what was going on. Half of London's exploring scene was doing laps of the hoarding, leaning on lamp posts, waiting for that clear moment...
It was obvious that nothing was going to happen without co-operation. I think there were about 12 of us, and any slip-ups would probably mean disaster for all. We rounded each other up and set about entering the site in pairs and threes. Somewhere in the middle, I went in. 75 flights of stairs later... And we were at the top! That easy... hmmm...
The wind was bitter, icy even. None-the-less, I wanted my "money shot". Not the most impressive photograph, by most standards, but the counterweight on the crane was to be mine.
Tensing myself to stop the shivering, partly to get a sharp photo, partly to stop me falling off, I hit the shutter release and held. Legs dangling the 330m down, the 12 seconds felt like minutes, hours even. I sat for a few shots, just to be certain, and then climbed back down to the slip-form.
Reflecting back on that night, in some ways The Shard was a photographic let down, just too high, too much to see, most of my photographs just too vague. As an experience, slogging up 70-something flights of stairs and ladders, not knowing if you would be caught around the next corner, not knowing if the top would be locked, alarmed, guarded... Amazing. The feeling of elation when at 20-to-midnight on Christmas Eve, I burst out of the hatch on to the slipform, knowing that not only had I done it, but I was about to share the experience with a group of others, all feeling the same elation, adrenaline and desire to explore that I had...