As someone who is afraid of heights, it hadn’t occurred to me that one day I’d climb 190 metres along a fabric walkway that runs up what is essentially a 52-metre tent. But here I am, on a Wednesday afternoon, scaling The O2. After a handsome man named Steve has shown me how to truss myself up like a chicken in a security harness, ushered my group up some transparent stairs and attached me to a flimsy-looking metal wire, I’m on my way up.
Initially, I’m terrified. There are no handrails attached to the walkway, which bounces each time you step forward. I also struggle with the mechanism attached to the harness, constantly getting it stuck and holding up the others. But the higher I climb, the more the fears and difficulties melt away. A sense of achievement overrides any worries I had about finding myself rolling down the white, cloud-like dome.
With the summit almost within reach, I’m curious about how our arrival at the peak of one of the world’s most iconic music venues will be marked. Secretly, I’m hoping to be greeted by Heather Small’s ‘Proud’ and an Olympic Closing Ceremony-scale firework display. But as we get to the top, it becomes clear my arrival is to be soundtracked by… Ed Sheeran.
Still, standing up here, it feels like I’ve been let in on one of the city’s great secrets. With the sun setting behind Canary Wharf, the sky is streaked with greens, reds, pinks and an otherworldly electric blue. The sprawl of London is inescapable from every angle. It’s a view that’s enough to make up for the 30-degree incline on the way back down, the unflattering security harness and Ed Sheeran. Well, almost. Alim Kheraj