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Category archive: Transport

Tuesday December 27 2016

The Londonist logo looks like this:

image

But under this logo, here, is an illustrated piece about how that logo might have looked rather different.  London, says the piece, might have acquired itself an Eiffel Tower of its own, at Wembley.  Seriously, the various towers that were apparently under consideration include at least two that look remarkably like the Parisian original, despite Eiffel himself not wanting to be involved:

Towards the close of the 19th century, rail magnate Sir Edward Watkin was intent on all manner of ambitious schemes, including a tunnel under the Channel (it’ll never work). He also dreamt of a gigantic tower, to rival the wonder of Paris and draw tourists to his rail network. Gustave Eiffel was himself unsuccessfully approached to design the behemoth, before the commission was eventually opened out to competition. Some of the entries are presented below.

The illustrations that follow are well worth a look.

In this age of primitively simulated 3D reality, superimposed upon dull old reality itself even as you wander about in reality, the day is surely approaching when you can wander around a city and see it not as it is, but as you would prefer it, at any rate as far as more distant buildings are concerned.  It might be rather hard to walk along a street that has been obliterated by a huge skyscraper, or to visit a skyscraper that was never built.  But your preferred view of St Paul’s could be preserved from a distance.  Or, you could insert a London Eiffel Tower, and see how you like that.

Monday December 26 2016

It’s not that I am a hair fetishist.  It’s more that I dislike faces, as in: I dislike photoing the faces of my fellow photoers, by which I mean photoing the faces of strangers.  And then sticking their faces on the www.  Or merely looking as if I might be doing that.  Bad form.  Not done.  Especially with face recognition just getting bigger and bigger as a thing people worry about.

One way to not do this is to wait until they hold their cameras in front of their faces.  Another is to simply photo them from behind.  I do that a lot.

Which means that I find myself photoing a lot of hair, and a lot of hair styles.

And that is how I found myself noticing the deliberately bald look, so often sported by gentlemen these days.

And that is why I photoed this advert, which I chanced upon recently in a tube train:

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I was standing up at the time.  Which was lucky, because I was consequently able to take this photo without even the appearance that I might instead have been photoing the face of the man sitting underneath the advert.  Many is the amusing tube advert I have refrained from photoing, in order not to arouse such fears, and maybe then cause A Scene.

More information about this impressive looking product here.

Saturday December 24 2016

How to say that I am at home alone over Christmas without you feeling sorry for me?  I can’t do it, but please: don’t.  In exchange, I won’t feel sorry for you that you are reading this instead of having “fun”.

Each to his or her own, but I love it that holidays, for me, really are holidays, rather than just burdens of a different sort to the more usual ones.  Don’t get me wrong, burdens are often well worth bearing, as when I visit GodDaughter 2’s family in Brittany, and must bear the burdens of living in an unfamiliar place with unfamiliar facilities and unfamiliar routines and with the fear of inflicting various sorts of offence and inconvenience upon everyone, with them being too polite to say.  But, these are still burdens.  This Christmas, as is my usual habit, I have been ensconced in my little snuggery, with no burdens at all.

I haven’t been fobbing you people off with nothing but silly old photos because I’ve been gadding about around town, catching up with friends and family and attending swanky functions.  No gadding about.  I’ve been fobbing you off with photos because I have been relaxing, even more than usual.

Here’s another silly photo, to wish you all a Merry Christmas.  I haven’t found any Merry Christmas messages out in the streets lately, so here is a Christmassy photo that I think I took in Oxford Street, definitely in December 2008:

image

Which tells me that I was fascinated by Bald Blokes Taking Photos for quite a while before I had worked this out in the fully conscious part of my head.  I love how green he is.

On Christmas Day itself I will not be alone, for I am to have a Christmas lunch with friends.  This will bring with it the burden of having to travel across London on Christmas Day, which basically means two very long walks.  (I don’t know how to Uber, since you ask.  I’d rather walk.) If I come across any Merry Christmas messages while walking, and manage to photo them, I’ll pass them on.

Tuesday December 20 2016

Earlier this evening I was out and about in central London, and although it was dark, I distinctly remember that I needed to take a photo.  I remember this because there was no SD card in my camera, and I had to activate one of the spares that I always keep tucked away in my left hand inside jacket pocket.

But what did I photo?  I can’t remember.  Let’s take a look.

Ah yes, this:

image

This being … well, see above.  Actually, I already knew when I started this.

What’s new about this scene since last I was there is not that this edifice now exists, when previously it did not.  What is new is that the area around it is less cluttered, and now you can see the thing.

I think it looks cool.  Also it photos well in the dark.

No way you could build a thing like this before there were computers to sort out all those bits of glass and metal, all different, all exactly the size they need to be.

Thursday December 15 2016

Indeed.  I have the rest of today set aside for other things, maybe even including a little more tidying up, which I have been neglecting of late, but need to get a lot of done by the end of the year.

So here is a particularly diverting white van:

image

My rule for paying attention to things is to pay attention to things that intrigue me, without necessarily knowing why these things intrigue me.  So it has been with white vans.  Partly it is because they are politically symbolic.  But partly it is because, actually, white vans span the entire social spectrum, in the atmospheres they radiate.  There are as many different ways to make a white van look as there are ways to wear your clothes.

Wednesday December 14 2016

The light on the way to Pimlico Tube was remarkable.  Seven Sisters was an amusing puzzle.  The Railwa was called that because it had been closed.

And the light at White Hart Lane Station was also at its brightest and best:

imageimageimageimageimage

But nothing prepared me for what I saw a few minutes later, after I had descended from the station into the street:

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Amazing.  He looks like an angel magically deposited upon to earth.  I got two shots of this guy before he moved and became unangelic in an instant.  I couldn’t decide which of these I preferred, so here is the other one:

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The key fact of these photos was that the light was not ubiquitous.  It was concentrated in a quite narrow searchlight beam.  And below we see how that happened.  We have White Hart Lane Station to thank:

image

I took that photo before I photoed the angel-worker, and before I had any idea of what effects it might create.

I grumble from time to time, to myself, and here too, that I typically find it hard to take photos that communicate the sheer intensity of the lighting effects that my mere eyes sometimes see.

No grumbles this time.

Saturday December 10 2016

Yes, The Railwa.  I had continued my odyssey from Seven Sisters on the regular railway, to White Hart Lane Station.  And from the platform, and then when I got outside, this was what I saw.  The Railwa:

imageimageimage

As you can see from the picture on the right, The Railwa used to be The Railway Tavern.

The y Tavern bit has disappeared because this is one of the many, many British pubs that has recently been shut down.

The other night they had a telly show about this, but it seems that it’s not all doom.  Pubs are being shut by Big Booze, and often then turned into blocks of posh flats, which are more lucrative.  But, some of the pubs are being saved, and taken over by The Community.  Accompanying this is the rise of “craft beer” (I at first misheard this as “crap beer"), which seems to be a mixture of regular beer and fruit juice, and as such, sounds right up my street.  When it comes to drink, I am a girl.  My alcoholic drink, on those rarish times when I am in a pub, is: lager and lime.  So it’s all going my way, apart from if I go to one of these new pubs and find it full of The Community.

To be a bit more serious, what I think I see happening here is that the old Working Class, the sort that used to smoke, and watch football teams while standing up and wearing cloth caps is ceasing to exist and what remains of it is being kicked out of the pubs by the new Working Class, the sort that doesn’t smoke, and designs websites and manages brands and works in call centres and which spent this weekend at the Robert Rauschenberg exhibition at Tate Modern.  The fate of the Railwa is what happens when an industry goes through a transformation of this sort.  Many of the old institutions collapse and get trashed, like the Railwa, by the look of it.  Others get transformed in accordance with the new dispensation, as perhaps the Railwa will be.

Monday December 05 2016

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:

image

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.

Here it is:

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.

Tuesday November 29 2016

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:

image

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.

Friday November 25 2016

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 …:

image

… 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.

Thursday November 24 2016

I took this photo …:

image

… yesterday.

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.

Wednesday November 16 2016

I spent today doing more tidying, and searching through my photoarchives from the second half of the year 2006, looking for people using mobile phones to take photos, as already mentioned here in this recent posting.  The second half of 2006 being, it would seem, when that got started.

I found quite a few such photos, as I will surely relate here, some time soonish.  But in among finding them, I also came across this, which I really like:

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That’s exactly how it emerged from my camera, in Parliament Square, way back then in the late summer of 2006.  I like it as it is, capturing as it does both the movement of the man on his roller blades and the hurried wave of chaos that engulfs me when I take such photos.

If you disagree, and think that the rollerblader should be cropped into greater prominence, and straightened, well, click to get the bigger version and crank up whatever version of Photoshop you have and get to work.  Or, just look carefully and tilt your head.

Friday November 11 2016

I’ve already shown a very similar picture of this building …:

image

… at this blog, in this posting.  The above photo is only very slightly different, in that it includes the Spraycan on the right, but excludes the Walkie-Talkie.  Also, I was able to compose it because I was on the platform of Battersea Park station, rather than in a train and just taking a chance.

I show another shot of this thing, because, well, I just like it.  There’s something about the way it gets lighter at the top, and how photos of this thing end up looking like they’ve been faked up by an architect’s office before the thing has even been built.  Photos of it don’t look real.  They look like Photoshop.

When I started doing this posting, I had it in mind for tomorrow (which is a busy day), having already done a rather perfunctory posting about a cat, Friday being my day for cat-blogging.  But it turns out that this blue building is also all about cats and other creatures.  I tried googling it for that earlier posting, without success.  But I just gave that another go, this time typing “"blue new building Battersea” or some such word combo into the great computer in the sky, and this time it worked.  This blue building is the recently opened Battersea Dogs (and now also Cats) Home Veterinary Clinic & Centre of Excellence.

Blog and learn.

Friday November 04 2016

The human eye comes with a brain attached, a brain which continuously works out what is actually there, as opposed to how things merely look.  But the camera is stupid.  It sees everything but understands nothing.  It does not cut out what doesn’t matter.

So, when a camera takes a picture like this ...:

image

… it shows the sign, but it also shows all the stupid lighting effects that are messing with the sign.

It also shows weird lighting effects above and beyond the sign, which perhaps you hadn’t noticed, until I told you to look for them.  Your brain may have cut that out, because it doesn’t have anything to do with the sign and you were concentrating on the sign.

But now do what I did next, when I realised what was really going on here.  Having acquired the photography habit, I have become visually stupid, which means that I now see more, almost like a camera does.

Feast your eyes on this:

image

I am not sure if the above photo was the best I took of this effect, or the below photo.  So I post both:

image

This was, I think, the single most remarkable thing I saw on my walk from Battersea Park station back to my home, last Wednesday afternoon.

From the above photos, you may be able to deduce what is causing this, but I’ll save you the bother of working it out.  Here is the next photo I took:

image

And here is another photo which makes everything even clearer, that I got from the internet:

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It’s the curvature of the surface off which the sunlight is bouncing that does it.  That separates the blobs of light from each window into distinct columns, creating a parthenonic magnificence that would, with a flat wall of windows, have been just a big jumble.  That would have been pretty good, but what we actually see is something else again.  And yet, when I was photoing this, I was the only one paying attention to this amazing light show.  Everyone else just walked past it, like it wasn’t there.  This was because, thanks to their brains, it actually wasn’t there.

The internet ought to be able to correct such failures to notice.  But the strange thing is, if you google the Battersea Dogs and Cats Home, all you get is a lot of stuff about dogs and cats.  No mention at all of this amazing special effect.  The modern world has its priorities badly skewed.

I have photoed similar lighting effects before, such as the one reported in this posting.  But that one is put completely in the shade by this one.

Categories below include Transport.  That’s because all this drama was to be seen on a manky old railway viaduct.  Which I actually think made it look better.  (All everyone else saw was a manky old railway viaduct.)

Tuesday November 01 2016

The weather forecast says that tomorrow will be a beautiful day, and I intend to spend it: out.  But where?

I promise nothing, but at present I am inclined towards visiting one of those delightful roof level London railway stations, along which one may perambulate, lining up Big Things with each other, namely …:

image

I’ve not been there lately.  As you can see if you look at that carefully, and if you know your London Big Things, that photo was photoed quite a while ago, when the Gherkin stood in isolated splendour, uninterrupted by such things as the Cheesegrater, and when the Shard of Glass was but a concrete stump.  Six years ago, to be more exact.

After hoovering up all the views to be seen from there, I then have in mind to wander back toward Vauxhall, past all the new US Embassy and Battersea Power Station excitements, towards the Oval and surrounding parts, and see what I see.

There is a park there, south of the Oval, that I’ve never checked out before.  Parks are also good for seeing Big Things, because parks, if you stand on the far side of them, have no big intervening objects between you and the distance.