The Marble Arch Mound opened today, a temporary artificial hill that sits facing the marble arch of Marble Arch. And it costs £4.50 to walk up and down it. I am not entirely sure why, but I was curious. I guess I had been watching too much Ted Lasso. I booked a ticket online, I walked up the outside – it wasn't exactly packed. I stood at the top of Marble Arch Mound, took in a few unfamiliar views of Oxford Street, Park Lane, and looked from this scaffold to other scaffolds. I was reminded of my advertising days, a creative director who called this kind of thing a tax on the stupid and another copywriter who famously wrote an ad for Australian radio which got thousands of people to come and look at a hole in the ground, Though they didn't pay £4.50. I descended back into the scaffolding staircase down the centre of the mound and felt like I was in Fortnite. In fact, the whole thing could easily be a Fortnite level if someone wants to recreate it. Why not walk with me?
The Marble Arch Mound project was commissioned by Westminster city council in the hope that it will help bring people back to Oxford Street. But honestly? Go up an actual hill. Primrose Hill is free and had better views. Or if you need the heart of the city, the Walkie Talkie's garden in the sky is free too, though you have to book. The Tate Modern viewing gallery is also free – though closed right now – with the added benefit of being able to peer into the penthouse apartments of the rich, famous, and rather annoyed. Maybe they'll do something else with it. Light it up or something. Put a king inside the burial mound. Have a volcano come out of Marble Arch Mound or something. Or maybe they'll keep on taking £4.50s from the likes of me who are just desperate after lockdown to do something, anything, that they'll pay a fiver to walk up a small hill.