Friday, 8 August 2014

Towers 1

I find heights scary, and going up ladders is a no-no. I would whimper and wail with naked fear if asked to parachute out of a plane, or abseil down the side of a building, whatever the good cause. All right, I might do it to save my own life, but never in cold blood!

On the other hand, if I am looking down from a tall tower - with plate glass, stout railings or sturdy masonry to prevent me from falling to my doom - then that's different. The trick is to counter vertigo, and banish any possible sensation of falling. A lot of modern towers let you stand over a glass section of floor, and you can 'dare' yourself to walk out onto it, but really there is no danger whatever, and you know it. They are safe places.

I have been atop one or two very tall structures in my time. The highest and best so far must be the Sky Tower in Auckland, New Zealand. It's very high indeed, and dominates the city's skyline:


It's a substantial building, and of course you simply take a fast lift to one of the top levels, just as you would in any skyscraper anywhere in the world. And the viewing platforms are all glassed in and entirely thrill-free. Great views of the city and harbour, though! I took all these shots of the Tower (and the view from it) in 2007.


The only disturbing notes came from advertisements for the Vertical Walk and the Bungee Jump. The walk involved climbing up the side of the Tower.


They made it look fun. Well, if you'd had a double-lobotomy first, no doubt it would seem a giggle from start to finish. As for the Bungee Jump, it was no surprise - this being New Zealand - to be offered the opportunity to leap off the Tower attached to an elastic band. But the idea had no reality until this chappie suddenly lowered himself into view while I was lunching in the Coffee Lounge:


He seemed cheerful enough. Perhaps he was demonstrating how easy it was to someone above him who was fearfully waiting to jump. Next thing, he was gone. Presumably he survived. He might even have done this every day, all day long, for a living. A while later, when back at street level, I took the shot below. If you look very closely at the widest bit of the Tower, which overhangs everything else (and of course it would have to, when you think about it), you'll see somebody poised to jump.


In the UK, we haven't much to compare to this. But the Spinnaker Tower at Portsmouth is a worthy contender, although - so far as I know - you are not allowed to jump off it. Health and safety, don't you know. Well, thank goodness for all these restrictions. Otherwise we'd all be tempted (or feel compelled) to test our nerve, wouldn't we? Here's the Spinnaker Tower, in shots taken in 2008 (when I merely looked at it from the Isle of Wight ferry) and 2011 (when I actually went up it).


So much for for the modern stuff. Tomorrow I'll look at more traditional towers, including a rather creepy one linked to the Most Haunted House in England.

1 comment:

  1. I can feel my nether regions getting all twitchy just thinking about bungees and stuff. I am ok on ladders as long as they aren't too high and scaffolding I don't have problems with but I too don't like high places unless I've something around and protecting me. We are odd creatures to be sure. Well people tell me I am...LOL

    Shirley Anne x

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