I was at the top of the Gherkin during last year's London Open House, I had volunteered to be there to welcome, inform and entertain visitors to the building and certainly did that, I pointed things out and told stories for hours (23 actually) finally losing my voice by sunday evening. Searcys were selling my books on the building and I took my son along to help them (17 hours). All in all a marathon - but then visitors to the building had done a marathon too as everyone queued for hours to get in, the lucky ones just two, some up to seven and a half hours...
So this year I thought I could help best by speaking to people in the queue, that's when learning about the building would be useful - when you're inside you just want to look at it - and if you wanted to buy a guide on the building wouldn't it be great to have it to read while you are waiting for hours. So this is what I did, after all what is knowledge if you don't share it? I arrived at 6.15am the first day (I wanted to see how early people arrived) and there was already a short queue - I think that was the best moment of the whole weekend for me, I gave an impromptu presentation on the building for the people already waiting to go in and answered all their questions - it seemed a nice reward for their early start.
Over the rest of that day and for most of Sunday I spoke to groups in the queue, used the photos in The Ghekrin Guide to show people where to look to see the architectural features of the building - most people didn't know that the behind the spiralling black stripes of the building are light wells and that if they look up at the entrance they can see into one of the lightwells as it has a glass floor. My husband came and sold books (Baizdon is a family affair) and I shared facts, secrets and told Gherkin related stories.
Saturday was a great atmosphere as there were queues for Lloyds and for the Leadenhall Building. Sunday was colder, I arrived at 7am, again there was a queue but the first couple told me they had arrived at 4.30am... They were freezing. I gave them a book as an arrival prize.
Overall it was an interesting experience, selling books to the public on the streets of London (not on the Gherkin Plaza of course, as that's private property). At times I felt rather more like a market trader than an international speaker who is also an expert on the Gherkin. I'm not sure if the fact that people were also selling teas and coffees to the queue and one enterprising guy was going round with a try of fish and chips made it better or worse. Still, I know I certainly improved the queueing experience for many visitors - and that can only be a good thing.