Tower Bridge is stuck! Rather, it isn't now -- but it was last thing last night. Yours truly and a fellow Ziffian were thirstily striding across its Victorian spans in search of a last order at the local, the gloriously cheap Pommeler's Rest, when our 10:30 p.m. progress was halted by a ship slipping silently beneath the raised arms of the mighty landmark.
Some moments later, the ship having slipped and we not having sipped, we began to get the idea that all was not well. The raised arms remained jauntily aloft, and a number of people in safety jackets were scurrying around the place and yelling into walkie-talkies. "What's going on, mate?" I asked. "Go away. It's not coming down. You have to leave!" was the frankly bad-tempered reply. Leave? It was too late to vector to another pub, and there was always a chance we'd get across for a 10:59 swiftie.
Time passed, and with it the chance of that all-important beer. However, the situation was getting more interesting. Traffic was backed up, police turned up to block off the road, and various snippets of information had been gleaned from the very loud radios with which the troglodytes communed. "There's no oil in number two!" "Nah, can't shift it. It's seized. Seized solid!" and so on. Clearly, there were beans to be spilled and muck to be stirred. I grabbed my mobile phone and called the BBC.
"Um. Tower Bridge? Seized solid? Is it chaos?" asked the rather bemused voice in the newsroom. "Not chaos, really. There are some very annoyed people and a bus trying to do a U-ey, very badly. But it's stuck. It's the only way around the congestion zone, too, so if they don't fix it by tomorrow morning there'll be carnage. Carnage!"
"Sounds like Radio 5's sort of thing. I'll take your number and if they're interested they'll call you back."
They didn't, of course, although the bridge stayed erect for eight hours and did indeed cause no little misery the morning after. My mistake, as usual, was trusting in public service broadcasting. I should have gone the commercial route and arranged immediate sponsorship from Pfizer and that drug which cannot be named online for fear of triggering spam filters. A stiff decision.