Brian Micklethwait's Blog
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Most recent entries
- More database problems
- To Tottenham (2): Seven Sisters?
- Early dusk
- I am knackered
- Packaging that is too good
- Tidying up
- To Tottenham (1): A fine day (especially for scaffolding)
- Quota Citroen DS
- Plan as energy
- One mobile phone photoer now
- Somebody needs to invent electronically changeable paint
- Clocking clocks
- What indeed?
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This and that
Tried to upload some photos but instead got database error messages. I hope that this at least uploads itself, but even this might be a problem.
Well, that did load, but only very slowly. As will presumably be the case with this.
On my way to Tottenham, a week ago today, my first stop was Seven Sisters on the Victoria Line, where I changed to the regular railway in order to travel onwards:
But who, I wondered while I waited for my next train, were those Seven Sisters? I made a note to self – written only on my brain cells, but it worked nevertheless – to search out the answer. Which is easy these days.
The name is derived from seven elms which were planted in a circle with a walnut tree at their centre on an area of common land known as Page Green. The clump was known as the Seven Sisters by 1732.
In his early seventeenth-century work, Brief Description of Tottenham, local vicar and historian William Bedwell singled out the walnut tree for particular mention. He wrote of it as a local ‘arboreal wonder’ which ‘flourished without growing bigger’. He described it as popularly associated with the burning of an unknown Protestant. There is also speculation that the tree was ancient, possibly going back as far as Roman times, perhaps standing in a sacred grove or pagan place of worship
The location of the seven trees can be tracked through a series of maps from 1619 on. From 1619 they are shown in a position which today corresponds with the western tip of Page Green at the junction of Broad Lane and the High Road. With urbanisation radically changing the area, the ‘Seven Sisters’ had been replanted by 1876, still on Page Green, but further to the east. Contemporary maps show them remaining in this new location until 1955.
So: trees. I was hoping for actual sisters.
Today, after being knackered yesterday, I had a quiet day, but just before it got dark, I visited my roof, and took photos. As you can see from a couple of clocks in the pictures (this one (1.1) and this one (3.1)), it was just after half past three, and already it was starting to get dark:
My official purpose was to find out what stage the new US Embassy has got to (1.3). But I also like 1.2 and 2.1, because they feature bright lights, looking almost as bright in my photos as they did for real. 3.3 features a view of the next door tower block that I hadn’t noticed before, flanked rather pleasingly by chimneys.
The sky (2.2) was also looking good, it being vapour trail weather.
And I am so knackered that I am too knackered to explain why I am so knackered.
Here is a photo I took today of a fellow photoer:
Woolly hats and gloves often come out especially well, I find.
Good night. I am off to bed.
Friday is the day here for cats and other creatures, so here, among other things, is a panda:
What this photo illustrates is the perennial problem of trying to chuck stuff out, which is that all too often, stuff is just too nice to chuck out.
I recall, a year or two after the Berlin Wall was dismantled, meeting an Eastern European lady, who complained about how the packages and pots and bottles in which produce was suddenly now sold was too good to chuck out. Bloody capitalism. Capitalist rubbish was better than what they had previously had as actual stuff.
In a modified form, I now suffer from this syndrome. It has crept up on me more gradually, but throughout my lifetime, packaging has been getting ever better, probably because it is the sort of industry that politicians disapprove of, and have hence left to its own devices, an industry’s own devices invariably being better than any device devised by politicians. The packaging industry, not having been “helped”, has thrived.
Beer bottles (the one in the picture still has beer in it so that will be consumed first), I have learned not to miss. But even they are sometimes so artfully designed that it seems wrong to throw them away.
The coffee jar I will keep, because coffee jars are so structurally impressive.
But that panda has got to go.
I have spent yesterday and today indoors, tidying up, or at least trying to. Infrastructural Overload is a terrible thing. This posting is about this tidying. You have been warned. Spoiler alert. You risk being seriously bored – angered even - by the triviality of it all.
The turning point was setting a date by which a serious amount of tidying needs to be done. The date in question is December 30th, when there will be a post-Christmas party and a talk in the evening, in the place now being tidied. December is a long month, in the sense that the last Friday of November was on the 25th, which was when I last entertained here in a space-hungry way. So the last Friday of December is five weeks later, rather than your more typical four. The key decision was not to attempt any entertaining before Christmas, which gives me a nice long time, and in particular that precious blank (for me) time around Christmas, to get stuck into all the shite that needs de-shiting.
The basic problem is a lot of piles of unprocessed paper. We are talking about an enormous in-tray in a small dwelling, which is not a good combination. Today, the piles of paper are now mostly in the living room, on top of big planks on top of sofas, and the processing has begun.
I already have a small chair-load of superfluous paper, destined for the bins, and have made several discoveries.
I have discovered two vital books of instructions that I had thought gone for ever, one for my washing machine and the other for a recording device. Very gratifying.
And, I have discovered that some magazine wraps themselves in biodegradable plastic. I found several such unopened magazines from several years back, and the wrapping has biodegraded. I had to vacuum bits of it off my hands. I’ve often wondered what biodegradation looks like. Now I know, a bit more than I did.
I anticipate a sense of liberation, of spiritual renewal, once a serious amount of tidying has been done. This may be a delusion, but if so it is a delusion that is already having consequences, in the form of me doing tidying up.
The first of my two trips earlier this week to Tottenham was on Monday, and, as soon as I stepped beyond the front door that I share with my neighbours, the weather put me in very a good mood. It was exactly as had been prophesied, namely: perfect. Sky, fifty shades of blue, depending on what else you put next to it, thus:
All of these photos involve scaffolding, which is a thing I love, along with cranes. (Also bridges.) Scaffolding says that Men Are Working, building a better future for us all. Scaffolding says that Men With Money think that here, there is more money to be made, selling or renting new or newly refurbished places. Cranes say the same. (Bridges say: here are two places worth connecting.)
On a day such as Monday was, scaffolding can look especially fine, because Monday was the kind of day when just about anything was looking fine.
1.1 is of some home improvement going on as seen from just outside my front door. 1.2 and 2.1 are both of the building going on across my courtyard, where they are turning a posh office into posh flats. And 2.2 is of some scaffolding to be seen in Vauxhall Bridge Road. (Although there seems to be disagreement between the sign in my photo and the only relevant website I could find, concerning what number to ring to get Superior Access Scaffolding.)
And all of this before I had even arrived at Pimlico Tube. It was an auspicious start. The rest of the day did not disappoint.
Indeed. This is not one of all-too typical late night, last minute postings. This is me getting my blogging here done before I depart again to Tottenham, because when I get back I will be completely knackered.
Photoed by me last week, in Lower Marsh, where for some reason antique automobiles are often to be seen:
Considering how dark it was, this came out pretty well, I think. I took several other shots of this goddess, most too blurry to be any good.
When I showed the surviving clutch of non-blurry photos that I took of this car to a friend over the weekend, it suddenly seemed to me that this particular photo makes this car look a bit like the E-type Jag. This is not an argument. But it was a definite feeling.
Here is an E-type viewed from a similar angle.
I think what made me see this similarity is that this is the angle that de-emphasises that characteristic upward bulge on the E-type bonnet, a bulge which means that from most angles, the Citroen DS and the E-type do not look the same.
More on my fascination (widely shared) for antique cars in this earlier posting.
Today I visited Tottenham, and I intend to return tomorrow, both expeditions having been prompted by these two weather forecasts:
That I have already decided this evening where I will be going tomorrow, and that I already knew last night what I was going to do today, is typical of how I now do these expeditions. Trying to work out, in the morning, where I’ll go that day, given that the day is turning out nice, tends not to work so well. Being old and tired and physically lazy, I have to have an interesting and attractive destination in mind as soon as the day starts, in order to force me out the front door soon enough for the expedition to amount to something.
In this respect, I am turning into my Dad. When I was a kid I used to tease my Dad about all the planning that would go into family expeditions, and he used to justify this with questions starting with the words “What if?” What if, we get into an accident? What if, one of us gets sick? What if, the trains are disrupted? We need a plan capable of taking care of everything. I used to think he was being over-cautious, and that we ought to just get started and deal with problems as and when they happened, which they mostly wouldn’t.
Well, as I get older, I become less good at adapting, by which I mean that I can change a plan in mid plan, but that it takes longer and is more stressful.
But more fundamentally, I now suspect that my Dad may have needed his plan just to get him going at all. Without a plan to drive the expedition forward, with artificially created deadlines and reasonably enticing objectives, maybe he just wouldn’t have been able to muster the energy he needed to lead us forth into the world at all. Like me, he knew that he would be happier if he did get stuck into an expedition, and would be depressed if all he did was sit at home doing this or that amusing but trivial thing. So, he would devise plans to make himself do what he wanted to do. My Dad’s plans were not as he sold them to me, mere precautions. His plans were energisers.
But maybe that’s just me.
People taking photos with their mobile phones, now more commonly known as smartphones because of all the other things they can do also besides phoning people when out and about, is now something you see everywhere. Above is a typical such photoer, whom I photoed at the top of the Big Olympic Thing last Tuesday, just before it got dark, on the same day I took these photos.
1.1 and 1.2 both show classic finger-work, of the sort I have long been familiar with, but which I nevertheless never tire of seeing and photoing. These shapes always make me smile.
2.2 is a classic screen shot, with everything on the screen very visible, as it is often not. Normally I like bright, outdoor light, but when it comes to photoing other people’s screens, the worse the light is the better.
Perhaps 2.1 is the most interesting one, because it shows what dirty windows there are up there. The human eye doesn’t see through dirty windows very well, but cameras do this better, unless the camera is photoing the dirt, in which case it really photos it.
Or maybe it has been invented and the answer is it’s called lots of little flat screen televisions.
This thought was provoked by seeing this picture, at Mick Hartley‘s:
There’s nothing wrong with this Big Thing that painting it entertainingly wouldn’t put right, in fact very right indeed. It could become a well-loved landmark, if only it was spruced up a bit, with some bright colours. This Big Thing is called the Edificio Torres Blancas, and it is in Madrid. In Spain they like bright colours, right?
But, what bright colours? The answer is to copy what they now do in Trafalgar Square, with that Fourth Plinth. In Trafalgar Square, they have solved the problem of what to put on the Fourth Plinth by keeping on changing it. That way, everyone gets to like some of the objects they put on the Plinth, and that way everyone who dislikes what is there now can comfort themselves with the thought that it will soon be gone. All can photo the ones they like and ignore the rest. Eventually, a winner may be declared. Eventually, a thing will be put there that seems to right, to so many people, that it will be decided to keep that thing there for ever.
That’s what they should do with the colouring of the above Big Thing in Madrid.
So, techies, get to work. What we need is a new sort of paint that you just slap on, but whose colours, down to the minutest detail, can then be controlled by a big old computer at ground level.
Or, this is already possible, as the advertisers are now proving with their changeable screens, and all that it missing is that this is, for a mere building, as opposed to a commercially profitable message, for the time being, too expensive.
Also, maybe the architect is still alive and vetoing any such notions, insisting that his masterpiece remain blancas, or failing that then at least grey all over. Time will soon correct this sorry state of affairs, if state of affairs it be.
From the BBC updates on the Scotland v Georgia rugby game at Murrayfield this afternoon:
Scotland have really struggled against the Georgian scum in the second-half.
Hastily corrected to “scrum”. Should have done a screen capture. As it is, you just have to take my word for it.
Actually Georgia is a great place. It recently came sixth in the world in one of those economic freedom charts, as I mentioned in passing in this posting
LATER: Oh dear. Not Murrayfield. Kilmarnock. Whenever you moan about someone else’s error, you make an error. It’s inevitable.
Memo to self. Whenever you see a clock, photo it. Why? Because that will ensure that you actually know what time all those photos that day were taken, what real clocks moving back and forth but my camera’s clock: not. I usually get the date right. The time, often not.
One day, when a clutch of my photos taken several years ago are crucial to establishing or destroying an alibi for a criminal suspect, knowing the exact time could turn out to be very important.
It helps that I like clocks and tend to photo them anyway. Now I will try to make a habit of it.
This clock …:
… is to be found at the top of a rather intriguing building in nearby Victoria, now the National Audit Office, but which used to be an airline terminal.
I photoed this clock from the roof of my home, on the same day I took these photos.
I took this photo …:
This rather alarming message was displayed in the Waterloo Station concourse area, in rather large lettering, and you can see more of that if you click on the above horizontal visual slice.
All it was was part of an advert for the Top Gear replacement that Clarkson, Hammond and May are now doing for Amazon. But photography sometimes does this. But “this”, I mean that it can snatch messages out of the flux of everyday life – especially everyday advertising – and bestow upon them a portentousness that they don’t really radiate, when they are merely doing their job. Now that adverts can change their screens, there can be one message, and then another, like a TV advert. And the result is these snatches of text that can pack far more of a punch than they do in real life, so to speak.
As promised (a rarity with me – both the promise and the fact that it is being so rapidly fulfilled), a somewhat more substantial posting.
In the form of a clutch of photos taken yesterday, in and around Stratford. I don’t mean Stratford on Avon, I mean Stratford. Stratford, London, where the Olympic Games recently happened.
1.1, 1.2, 1.3, 3.2, 4.1, 4.2 and 6.1: Some of the big, bland modernism to be seen springing up there. 1.4, 2.1: A couple of views taken from within Stratford Station. What, you are asking, are those strange green and yellow lozenges? What indeed? i.e.: Art. 4.2 is a sign about the languages spoken in, I think, a hairdressing enterprise, which my friend and I encountered in a little clutch of ethnic enterprises to be found inside the Westfield Centre. 1.3, 2.3, 2.4, 3.4, 4.2, 5.2, 5.4, 6.2 and 6.3 all feature cranes. You can’t avoid cranes in London even if you want to, and I don’t want to. 1.4 and 5.2: The Big Olympic Thing. 4.4 and 5.1: Big Olympic rings. 5.3 is the Olympic Velodrome, which my friend wanted to show me. I agree, nice.
And nice light.
The puzzles are 3.3, and 4.3: Disco balls in a pram, and a shiny ball on stilts, like a cheap SF movie alien. How come?
But that’s the whole point of big cities. You can’t expect to understand everything just by looking at it.
The place is only in the very early stages of coming alive. At the moment it reminds me of the posh, for-foreigners bit of old East Berlin, before the USSR fell to pieces, which I visited in the mid-80s. Expensive, but lifeless. Soon Stratford and its surroundings will look more like East Berlin presumably looks now.