Magazine article New Statesman (1996)

LAURIE Taylor

Magazine article New Statesman (1996)

LAURIE Taylor

Article excerpt

With a zoom lens in the London Eye, your marital secrets could be subject to a podful of gossip

Something for you to write about," said as Geoff, as our sealed glass pod soared high above the Thames on Sunday afternoon. "Going on the London Eye." I told him quietly that the same thought had already occurred to several thousand other columnists and that, frankly, there was nothing significant left to say about the experience of sailing over London on a super Ferris wheel.

It was good, though, to have some excuse for conversation. When I clambered aboard, I had expected the journey to be punctuated by nothing more than exclamations of delight as my fellow travellers spotted Crystal Palace and Hampstead, and told and retold the story about the civil servants at the Ministry of Defence pulling down their blinds in case passengers on the Eye with powerful telescopes were able to zoom in on secret documents.

But it soon became obvious, as the pod slowly gained height, that what really absorbed my companions was not their capacity to spot the Dome or the slopes of Muswell Hill, but whether or not Roger was going to do the decent thing and tell Sally that there was no future for their already rocky marriage now that Janet had unexpectedly returned from Australia looking tanned and eager.

I wondered if this desperate desire to chatter had something to do with the eerie silence of the pod. Nearly every contemporary experience seems somehow inadequate without the accompaniment of sonorous commentary or exultant background music; but here we were, slowly moving through the air without even the throb of jet engines to mark the nature of our adventure. This was the silence of the confessional or the failing dinner party, and the only obvious way to relieve the tension was to blurt out the news about Helen's phantom pregnancy or Dave's newly found impotence. …

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