We went to the Sky offices

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We popped into the Sky offices last weekend to go and see some people from The Wisden Cricketer.

Where are Sky’s offices?

The address is the not-at-all-made-up-sounding 123 Buckingham Palace Road. We were confronted with a large glass wall with a small glass revolving door in the middle of it. Sky like glass very much for some reason.

Phase one

We entered the glass revolving door successfully enough, but then attempted to exit about two feet too early and walked into some glass. There is a vast reception desk along one wall in the foyer/antechamber. The two girls manning it kindly ignored our embarrassment, largely because they sit at a giant desk and are above laughing at other people’s embarrassment.

We told one girl who we were going to see and she gave us a plastic card. As we remember it, she looked away from us and rolled her tongue around her mouth as she slid it across the desk. This may in fact be a lie, but it’s how we remember it.

Phase two

The next obstacle was a sort of high-tech turnstile. We guessed that it worked how the Tube works. For the one and only time on this short trip, we got something right. We went through to the main part of the building.

The inside of Sky’s offices is built according to the principles of the Panopticon, where you can look into all the offices from the centre. There’s a pointlessly oversized middle bit which contains a couple of lifts and a lot of wasted space. Around the outside, every office on every floor is glass. You can probably stand by the lift on the middle floor and see everyone in the whole building. It’s overt surveillance-tastic.

Where it differs from the Panopticon is that every person in every office can also see you. Therefore, if you’re a cretin – like we are – you can easily be identified as such, long before you reach any particular office.

Phase three

We got the lift to the correct floor and walked the shiny Gattaca-style gangway to the office door. There was only one thing on the whole of this floor other than the lift – a small pillar which was positioned a few yards away from the door to an office. We walked up to it and it was a swipecard kind of thing. As a focal point for an entire floor of a vast, futuristic office block, it was something of a disappointment. It said: “Don’t use this. Knock on the door instead.”

We walked up to the door. There was another reception desk with a woman sitting at it on the other side of the glass. She had presumably seen us hovering around like a complete numbnuts for the last few minutes, so we figured we didn’t need to knock and just tried the door. It was locked.

At that point a cleaner materialised out of thin air. In true cinematic fashion, she wanted to go through the same door as us. She used her card on the ‘do not use’ pillar and we nipped through the door while pretending that we were in fact merely trying to hold it open for her.

Getting out

After learning so much on the way in, we felt pretty confident when it came time to leave. However, apparently you don’t just scan the card on the way out of the turnstile and hand it in at reception. You actually insert it in an entirely different way and the turnstile keeps it. The receptionist must have somehow conveyed this to us when she had looked away with that bored look on her face.

In summary: we can’t do anything; not even walk into and then out of an office.


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  1. 123 Buckingham Palace Road sound like it’s in the South. Did you bump into any sinister gangs of youths?

  2. How many people do you need for a gang and how young do you have to be to qualify as a youth?

  3. >= three people constitutes a gang.

    I find people between the ages of 5 and 16 the most intimidating sort of youth.

  4. In that case no (on both counts) and to be honest, the people in question weren’t sinister either.

    If we had to describe them, we’d probably go for ‘polite’.

  5. There’s another Sky office building at the bottom of Brick Lane which is similarly impossible to get into and out of. There is a sort of revolving glass tube thing you have to go through, and inevitably get stuck in.

    I think it’s made of glass so that the receptionists and security blokes can watch you getting stuck, and then do nothing to help you. This is presumably the main perk of the job.

  6. King, they must have bought a job-lot.

    Crafty old Murdoch! Always thinking about economies of scale!

  7. I read numbnut as numbat . I liked the idea of you as a hovering numbat – but sadly, I realised it was my mistake.

  8. A Panopticon. With Bob Willis at the centre and purveying negativity into all the surrounding cells through the sheer power of his grimace.

  9. The last time I went to visit Sky offices the whole shabang was still located at Osterley. More folksey, but as a result less Bond-movie-like.

    Great yarn, your majesty.

  10. Nah, Colville had only been there a couple of years when i went and in any case my visit was unrelated to cricket.

    Oh, perhaps you were talking to KC, Bert?

  11. Been there, bought the t-shirt, got the nightmares free. You should have tried to get something to eat…the alluring smell of coffee and fresh baked french bread is pumped all around the building in the morning.

    However, a variety of unexpected and fairly inexplicable obstacles are placed in your path if, as a guest, you attempt to purchase any of these treats. I got a tray together and reached the till only to find that money is no longer used in this bizarre new world. Another condescending look ensued as I was informed that to procure my breakfast the precious card must be topped up with money at a confusing looking computer terminal located beside another glass wall.

    At this point you can ask the girls at the front desk for help if you want yet another withering look, or you can just amuse the security guards and staff by wondering around the glass maze for a little longer with a pleading, pathetic look on your face. Honestly, I have no idea how I got money on my card but I have never had a more traumatic cup of coffee in my life.

    Of course there was no change so I ended up dumping some money with the precious on the way out, meaning I paid for this torture. The whole thing was highly confusing, but months later I finally understood everything when I chanced upon Sky channel 378 and found a familiar looking reality show called “The Glass Office”…In fact, I think I saw the author looking particularly stupid in episode 4 of series 3.

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