January 01, 2005
… and a Happy New Year

Despite all the tsunami horrors of 12/26 and onwards - this guy looks like a good man to read, if you can take it - London nevertheless celebrated the arrival of the New Year in style. BBC1 switched back and forth between appropriately doleful reportage from the smitten East, and the rather subdued celebrations that were nevertheless happening in London, in Britain and in general.

There was nothing subdued, however, about the firework display which was staged in London, in and around the Wheel. You can't tone down a firework display, I guess. You either have it as originally planned, or you don't. And London had it.

As soon as I saw how impressive it was going to be, I started snapping away at my telly.

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Click and enjoy.

I seem to recall hoping here that as part of the London effort to get the Olympic Games, good things would happen to London. This, I suspect, was one of them. Look! We may have hopeless public transport and no proper stadium, but at least we can do fireworks!

I really envy those who got out to see all this for real, and here are some reaction shots of the envied, to end with. Brian's Culture Blog wouldn't be Brian's Culture Blog without a picture of someone taking pictures, so I end with a regulation Billion Monkey. This was the one shot I had to exhume from darkness with a bit of photoshopping. All the others are as snapped.

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The footage of the two ladies and the moustachioed gent was very artfully set up, and recurred several times. I'm sure the BBC liked it for the beauty of the ladies, and for the ethnic mix. And what the hell, so do I. I'm glad I got Lady in the Middle brushing away a tear.

As for the other pics, I probably shouldn't have had so many of the Wheel, but really, has it ever looked better? And it must be the answer to the pyrotechnicians's (?) prayers. About the only thing missing was giant rockets attached to the Wheel to make it spin round madly like a giant catherine wheel. As it was, each pod was crammed with explosives and the entire frame must have been festooned with bangs and wires of every sort. Even on mere TV it looked remarkable, and though I say it myself, I love how it looks in some of these photos.

Brits will have seen all this on their TVs if they cared, even if they were at parties (I myself was hosting one), because at parties the TV gets switched on for the chimes of Big Ben, and to make sure you get the timing of the New Year right. But non Brits may not have seen this particular show. Even those who did see the TV may agree with me that stills of it all do add something, in an oil painting sort of way.

I wonder what Turner would have made of all this.

Posted by Brian Micklethwait at 04:14 PM
Category: LondonPhotography