Monday, 7 May 2007

No room at the top

The lift doors opened to reveal an elderly couple. Two smartly dressed people, unselfconsciously oozing wealth and poise. Wealth and poise mingled with the dirt and grime of the once smart elevator. Woise and drime became nothing more than woime. I’d seen enough woime in my life to know a failed portmanteau. The fact that they just smiled but didn’t move suggested that they weren’t rich as a consequence of higher end intellects. So I guess it was either years of inbreeding or they were the classiest elevator attendants in London, England. Immediately, something told me to be careful. I smiled at something and thanked her for the warning. The whole set up stank. Was the girl with me one of them? Was one of them with the girl? Was he one of them? Who could I trust? Should I have used whom? Why did I even sniff the set up in the first place?

We walked in and waited. Ten seconds seemed like twelve or thirteen. I reached over to the control panel: something wasn’t quite right- ‘Shift a little from the left,’ I hissed at the girl. The panel had four buttons. I undid them and noticed the controls ran from ground to two then skipped all the rest of the floors until eight. What was on floors three to seven? My confusion was tangible. My contusion was triangle. Her cardigan was tangerine.

‘You going to the top?’ he queried; the accent so clipped and nasal he was the epitome of British aristocracy. The monocle, top hat and silver topped cane kinda gave it away too. I said nothing.
‘Nothing,’ I repeated, determined to convince him I was merely a foreign visitor to London, England. ‘I up in lift to top see many please.’
‘Is it the restaurant or the viewing balcony you want?’ the woman asked in a voice dripping with the residue of a thousand silver spoons. Again I used subtle inflections in my voice and the merest hint of a change in posture to deliberately evoke a hint of the Middle East or South East Asia and, of course, use a valid split infinitive: ‘Vleiwing Bralcony prease,’ I muttered.

We emerged from the lift on eight. The couple drifted into the restaurant: they’d stepped into the rapidly flowing ornamental river. The air reeked of fine wine, good food, expensive perfume and regular beef stock. ‘Actually, I’m just looking for the toilet,’ I said to the girl, ‘there’s no way they’ll let us anywhere near the restaurant dressed like this.’ Such is the reality of life at the top of the Oxo tower.

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