Epiphany in a People's Dome

By Lynton, Charles | New Statesman (1996), February 27, 1998 | Go to article overview

Epiphany in a People's Dome


Lynton, Charles, New Statesman (1996)


Tuesday "Ah, Lampard!" the Master greets me, "Good to see you. Looking forward to it?"

The "it" to which this dapper man with his widow's peak and obliging smile is referring, is this morning's revelatory press conference at which the part of the Dome's contents that have been decided will be unveiled.

As I reply in the affirmative I take stock of the mark that power has left on this handsome chap. The hair is going very fast now, the skin is slightly yellowish, there are bags under the boyish eyes and the first signs of jowls. But can I honestly say these are the scars of office, rather than the passage of time? In your mid-forties, these are the things that happen. Between 30 and 40 your face remains much the same. Between 40 and 50 it all starts to collapse. The Master's doing OK. Power is not killing him.

"Good, good, delighted to hear it!" says the Master, and moves on. Alastair Campbell turns his big head towards me and gives me a friendly scowl. I am a pal of M's and therefore off-limits for him. I take my coffee over to Glenda, who is here wearing her London Transport hat (and looking as frighteningly gorgeous as ever) and is on hand to talk about whether punters will be able to get to Greenwich at all.

"Well hello," she greets me with a smile - and again I instantly become Oliver Reed grappling naked with her Gudrun in a Lawrentian bosky dell. As she speaks to me of the Jubilee line, the train of my imagination is entering other tunnels altogether.

But now it is time for the grand ceremony. We line up behind the platform with the press and the usual invited audience of businesspersons on the other side. And there it all is, on slides and on film: The Learning Curve (plus Licensed to Skill - a clever pun, that!); The Body - sex (no, gender) unimportant given the pose; Serious Play, together with a moving pavement; Dreamscape, where one can float on the River of Dreams; the ecological Living Island; and the Spirit Level, where people of all faiths can go and commune with whatever they want to commune with.

It is surprisingly impressive, with lots of little model people made out of white plastic, having a great time as they pass through the highly coloured models.

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