City Hall review (Oct 2013)
This is out-of-date! I have been here again since I wrote this review
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I thought I'd drop in to City Hall today and see what Boris is up to. I thought I'd better take him a present so I wrapped up a comb so he can sort out his mop of blonde hair. I don't think he owns a comb judging from all his photos in the papers -- his hair is even messier than mine. But he wasn't home though... where was he? Probably off riding his bike somewhere.
City Hall is where the Mayor lives. It's quite an imposing little building that looks a bit too official for the likes of you and me. It's all glass and steel and big revolving doors with big security guards standing behind. Are you really allowed in there? Will I get told off if I walk through the door? You end up milling around outside for five minutes as you watch all the suited politician-types enter with their briefcases and phones. You can see the security guards frisking everyone inside the window, and worry that you'll get arrested if you step across the threshold. But of course you have nothing to worry about. Just go inside, the security guard was actually quite nice and happily answered all of my dumb questions (can I take photos? where can I go?). If they let scruffy urchins like me inside, then you'll nothing to worry about.
I quite like the building, although lots of people don't. At least they've made an effort to be original. Most of the stuff that goes up these days is just a brick and concrete box. They all look exactly the same, like they've picked it from a catalogue. But can you name another building that looks anything like City Hall? Nope. It is a one-off. And it's even more peculiar once you get inside because instead of stairs, it's got a big ramp that runs around the interior of the window, giving you great views of the Thames as you wind your way around the floors. Unfortunately you are only allowed to go up to the second floor though, where the council chamber sits. Everything above that is out of bounds to the public. Apparently there was a time, not so long ago, when you could wander all the way up to the roof for an exterior view on the balcony. But Boris put paid to that to save a bit of money. So the second floor is as high as you can go now. (Boo!)
There's not a lot to see inside. There was no meeting on when I went, so I was stuck outside the council chamber peering in at the seats. In the basement they've got an exhibition space, but that was empty too. They've got a huge satellite image of London superimposed on the floor, so I suppose you could try and find your house if you were truly bored. They've got a little cafe downstairs too, which was actually quite interesting. You can sit amongst the politician-types as they natter on their phones and punch buttons on their laptops. The ones that I sat next to had folders as big as the Bible, and were flicking through them to find facts and figures about some policy that no one is interested in. Arguing the toss about who's right and who's wrong, all whilst munching on their egg and sausage sandwiches. I wonder if Boris comes down there for lunch? Maybe he does.
So is it worth a visit? Well... if you happen to be visiting Tower Bridge or HMS Belfast then it's probably worth popping in, just to be nosey. Because both of those attractions are right nextdoor. It's on a nice stretch of the Thames too, offering some good photos of the City and the Tower of London across the river. But it's not worth planning your day around. I might go back if there's a meeting on though... I would happily pay money to see Boris. Maybe I can give him that comb too.
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