High life is great, providing you've got the head for it

The views might be wonderful from the shard, but could you stay up there for long?

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The Independent Online

Does getting high scare you, or do you relish it? I'm not talking about the sort of thing the folks in Washington and Colorado are going to be getting up to legally from now on, but about going to the top of tall buildings.

I recently spent two evenings higher than usual – one was a brilliant i reader party in Millbank Tower on the Thames, the other in a bar called Vertigo 42 in London's Tower 42. On both occasions, the city rolled away beneath me, lit-up and lovely, like a magic map. The selling point of both venues was the views, which thrilled me.

The high life obviously appeals to lots of others: why else would The Shard, London's tallest skyscraper, have already set the cost of going to its viewing platform at a whopping £24.95 for adults and £18.95 for children? Due to open its elevator doors to the paying public in February, it looks set to be joined by a series of lanky friends, with towers planned for Canary Wharf, Stratford and Elephant and Castle.

Heron Tower, home to groovy restaurant Duck & Waffle, saw my food-reviewing boss almost put off her dinner, so vertigo-inducing was the ride in the lift.

I have no such qualms. Although – or maybe because – I've lived in one basement or another for about a third of my life. As a teenager, my room at my mother's house was, as I learnt in GCSE French, “sous-sol”, which was useful for scoring an extra point in vocabulary tests and for coming and going as I pleased accompanied by whoever I liked.

I now live in a basement flat and I'm horribly jealous of my upstairs neighbours who spend a lot of their time happily peering out of the top-floor window at the comings and goings of our street.

I can imagine how awful it must be, though, if you have vertigo and see more of these megastructures springing up. If you landed your dream job at a firm with offices on the 40th floor, it would be like an arachnaphobe having to walk over a river of tarantulas to get to their desk. My brief sojourn of multi-storey life came at university when my halls were in a tower block. I still miss the views, but not the thrice-nightly fire alarms that saw us all having to plod down seven, 15 or even 24 flights of stairs.

That's the thing: I like getting high, but I wouldn't want to stay there.