Brian Micklethwait's Blog

In which I continue to seek part time employment as the ruler of the world.

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Category archive: Transport

Thursday July 23 2015

Said I to myself - said I, on the 10th of this month:

I need to get out less, and this weather is not helping.

Tomorrow, the weather will be helping very much:

image

This is perfect.  My life today, in the last few days, and for the last few weeks, has been one mad social whirl after another, my contented solitude being having been violated seemingly every other evening and sometimes more often even than that, which is all fun and all that, but I find that an evening out puts a blight on creativity for the entire day, because what if I start something, want to finish it, but then don’t have time to, because I have a social whirl to attend and to get ready for and to find my way to and to find out about finding my way to?  Last night I whirled out to watch theatrical stuff in an unfamiliar and transportationally complicated part of town with a theatrical friend.  Tonight, I face another social whirl, to meet Perry II.  Every time I go out I take photos, but because of all this going out I have no time to show them to you people or not with the sort of insightful commentary that I want to attach to them without which what’s the point? - They’re just pictures.

So tomorrow (a day during which I have nothing else planned), I will stay in all day, and try (although I promise nothing) to do here a mammoth day of catch-up blogging, showing you a tiny fraction of the pictures I have been taking lately, all properly explained, and anything else I’ve been meaning to put here for some time that I decide to put here tomorrow, in not one, not two, but many postings.

We shall see.

Tuesday July 14 2015

Another of those Wicked Camper vans, from the same fleet as this one:

image

It was never a totally White Van, but someone has painted some white on it.

I recently saw another of these vans with something like “Chuck Norris is the only person who can slam a revolving door”, but my photoing reflexes were too slow to capture it.  When I do photo this, I’ll try to remember that I said I might put the picture up here.

I agree with you.  Yes, it is a good marketing strategy.  Both of us are right about that.  And I see that these arseholes have been helping.

Thursday July 09 2015

Indeed:

image

At the time, all I thought I was photoing was a slightly amusing van.  One of those supplied by this enterprise.  Photoed by me earlier this evening in Lower Marsh.

The van is nothing to do with the shop.  It was just backing into the small Wicked Campers park next to it.

Wednesday July 08 2015

You can lose a test match on the first morning and England are well on the way to losing the first Ashes test in Cardiff, having already lost three wickets before lunch.  England’s trouble is that their top four have none of them been in proper form of late, and the Australian bowlers are all just that bit too good for them to be able to solve this problem by batting themselves into some form against them.  It will only get worse.  If it gets better I will be delighted, but also surprised.  As of now, I expect the result to be much as it was two years ago, when England shaded it three nil, except that it will be three nil to Australia, or something like that.  This time, Australia are better, and England have less good batting (Bell has got worse basically) and two top bowlers who are two years more knackered, plus no Swann.  So, England will lose.  Anything better than that will be a bonus.  We shall see.

And before anyone says I was plunged into doom by these three wickets, I was already pessimistic when it kicked off.  I just wish I had put this an hour and a half sooner.

My mood is not helped by me still having to rely on my stupid laptop and it is like wading through sewage.

Also, I began the day with a Rameau harpsichord CD that had been on pause, and since it is one of those annoying CDs (a triple CD actually) without the tracks and timings on the cover, just in the inside booklet, it is hard to note where I am it in, so a CD started needs to be finished.  And Rameau on the harpsichord, at any rate this particular Rameau on the harpsichord, was very minor key and lugubrious.

Every damn morning the laptop seems to insist on doing a “scheduled scan” (which always discovers nothing but takes for ever)..  This is the sewage aspect.  At least things on that front are now a bit better.  (I was reminded about that by a little box bottom left saying Scan Completed 0/0 0/0 0/0 0/0 blah blah blah.)

Last night I watched a very depressing documentary about the holocaust, The Allies knew.  But they didn’t believe it, or didn’t want to.  My newly purchased milk is already going sour.  There is a tube strike that has caused the entire tube to shut for the day.  The weather for the ASI boat party this evening looks like being very grim and grey.

At least England haven’t lost another wicket before lunch.  88-3.  Not good, but not catastrophic.  Or not yet.

Tuesday July 07 2015

Indeed:

image

I had this complicated posting in the works, but, as often happens, it got too complicated.  Usually, in these circumstances, I fob you off with a quota photo of that Pavlova statue.  This time I thought I’d fob you off a quota White Van instead.

Learn more about the enterprise in question here.

Tuesday June 30 2015

As everyone else in the world found out several years before I did, a mobile phone is now an essential part of the kit you need to meet up with somebody.  So, I made a point of having my mobile with me when G(od)D(aughter) 1 and I met up at Manor House tube last Sunday.

When I arrived there, at our predetermined time, I discovered that Manor House tube has three widely dispersed exits to choose from.  Now you may say: “But how many ticket barriers does it have?  One.” You are right, but what if the mobile phone reception at the ticket barrier, this ticket barrier being below ground, does not work?  I needed to be out in the open.

Mobile phones cause plans to be more muddy and last-minute than they used to be, because that is what these plans can now be.  GD1 and I had hoped that “the exit of Manor House tube” would be unambiguous, but we took a chance on that, because we would both have our mobile phones with us, and we could make it up as we went along if things got more complicated.

I picked one of the three exits and looked around for GD1.  No sign.  I left a phone message and a text message for GD1 saying to her: I am in the Manor Park View Cafe, which is next to the big gate into Finsbury Park, which by then I was.  Fifteen minutes later, I rang again, and eventually got through to GD1.  She said: “I just sent you a text.” Ah.  She was running a bit late, which, now that we all have mobiles, is okay because now such information is easily communicated.

Anyway we duly met up in the Manor Park Cafe, and we consumed consumables while deciding to have our walk anyway, despite the weather being vile, but also deciding that we would wait inside the Manor Park View Cafe until it stopped actually raining.

What might have happened had we not had any mobile telephony at our disposal, I do not know.  The old method, which is that you decide beforehand to meet at place X at time Y, used to work okay.  Whoever got there first waited, and whoever was second said sorry, with whatever degree of sincerity seemed appropriate.  But now, if you don’t bring a mobile with you, and if you don’t make constant use of it, you are misbehaving.

I brought my mobile with me to meet up with GD1, but at a critical moment I failed to consult it.  “Getting old” will definitely be one of the categories below.

Sunday June 21 2015

Today there was a big old Micklethwait family get-together at the ancestral home in Englefield Green, Surrey.  Me, two brothers, a nephew and a niece plus partners, another niece, plus two little kids.  I took photos of course, and I wasn’t the only one doing that.

I prefer not to show you pictures of my relatives, but I’m sure that nobody will mind me showing you these snaps:

image imageimage image

Those are Dinky Toys, in really quite good condition, dating from the 1950s.  I can even remember a couple of the names.  The red van (which was my brother’s, not mine) was “Mersey Tunnel”, because it is a Mersey Tunnel police van.  And the white car with green on it is a Singer Gazelle.  Ah, Singer.  Those were the days when Britain contained about a dozen distinct car-makers, with distinct names like Singer.

All these toys had already been extracted from all the other goods and chattels in the house and given to N and NP’s two little kids, before I arrived.  Theoretically, three of these four antiquities were mine, or they were mine sixty years ago, but the kids seemed to like them and I was glad for these toys to be passed on.  Such things are only worth proper money if the boxes have been kept, and of course they hadn’t been.  And although these Dinky Toys, especially the two cars, are in really quite good condition, really quite good condition is not nearly as good as mint condition, moneywise.  So, yes kids, you’re very welcome.

But one favour I did ask.  Before you take them off to your home, let me photo them, just to remember them.  Okay?  Okay.  So I perched them on my knees and took the shots.

One of the many good things about digital photography is that with it you can store fun memories in two virtual dimensions, rather than in three actual dimensions.

Friday June 19 2015

I’ve been giving attention to and often photoing white vans lately, and am starting to notice interesting things about them, of which more in due course.  (Maybe.  I promise nothing.)

But meanwhile, Fridays here have not, lately, seen much in the cat category, which is a thing I like to do on Friday.

So, a picture of a white van with a picture of a cat on it would seem to be in order. 

I have yet to photograph such a thing myself, but I did find just such a picture of just such a white van, here.  But alas, the cat was on it for a not very internetty sort of reason:

image

There’s lots of cat related stuff on the www, but this is an aspect of cats and the keeping of them that typically gets omitted.  All is cuteness.  Spaying is ... not cute.

Wednesday June 10 2015

I continue to photo white vans.  The poshest white van so far is one I photoed today.  Here’s the basic photo:

image

But, this being a posh enterprise, the graphics are a bit thin and polite, and my photo doesn’t help.  So here’s a close up what it is:

image

And here are the services they offer.

Earlier in the day, I also photoed this white van, which also seemed rather posh:

image

Again, for the same sorts of reasons, here’s a close-up of what it is:

image

But, although “piano people” suggests people who play pianos, or at the very least tune them, all that these piano people do is move them from place to place, carefully.

There really are a lot of white vans out there.

Friday June 05 2015

Indeed.  Photoed by me in September 2005, i.e. just under a decade ago:

image

Had I known how interested I would later become in white vans, I would have done a proper picture of the white van there.  At the time all I cared about was the new Wembley Stadium, in the background there.  But it says something that I considered this particular white van to be a worthy foreground to all that Big Arch activity.  It also shows how white van graphics have progressed since then, the ones there being very straight and rectangular, like they’re done with Letraset, as maybe they were.

On the day I took that shot, I also took other shots like this one ...:

image

... and this one, which I recall especially liking at the time:

image

Blue sky.  That never fails.  Not then, not now.

Monday June 01 2015

My rule for violating anonymity here at this blog, by sticking up recognisable pictures of strangers, is that if they are making a spectacle of themselves, then it is okay for me to carry on doing what they started.  Someone wearing a weird costume in public or doing something weird in public, or just very deliberately looking spectacularly beautiful in public, are fair game.

There is nothing weird about this guy’s costume, whom I spied at Oxford Circus tube station last night, but he was behaving rather weirdly.  So I photoed him, and here he is:

imageimage

He, I am sure, had no idea that I was photoing him while he was photoing.  Any more than I would have noticed if someone else had been photoing me while I was photoing him.  Which it would have made perfect sense, to me anyway, for someone else to do.  If I saw a bloke photoing a bloke photoing in the tube, I’d have photoed the pair of them like a shot, and what a shot it might have been.

Maybe a Real Photographer would like the lack of advertising in the advertising spots there, preferring arty grunge to vulgar commerce.  But I reckon that adverts might have added even more fun to those shots, especially if there had been some relevant slogan or slogans involved.  But now I’m just being greedy.

Sunday May 31 2015

Incoming from Michael Jennings:

Truly, that’s a glorious headline.

Indeed it is:

Enrique Iglesias sliced his fingers on a drone during a concert

The drone was not hostile.  It was part of the show, as was Iglesias attempting to handle it.  It was just that it all went rather wrong:

“During the show a drone is used to get crowd shots and some nights Enrique grabs the drone to give the audience a point of view shot,” the statement read. “Something went wrong and he had an accident. He decided to go on and continued playing for 30 minutes while the bleeding continued throughout the show.”

Iglesias was semi-treated immediately after the accident.

Definitely a future trivia question in a pop quiz.  But the worst that could have resulted from this would have been a couple of missing Iglesian fingers.  This ("NY-bound plane nearly collides with drone, FAA says") could have ended far more grimly.

There will be many, many more drone dramas.  They are colossally useful, and accidents buzzing around begging to happen. 

Tuesday May 26 2015

Take a train from … anywhere, into Waterloo.  Exit your train, and go through the barriers.  Turn right in the big concourse and carry on walking until you have gone as far as you can go, and you get to an exit.  Step outside.  You are in “Station Approach”:

image

I’ve messed with the visuals there, to make “Station Approach” readable.

You are wisely prevented by some railings from stepping out into Station Approach itself and being run down by a taxi.  But turn right out of the exit, and make your way a few dozen yards along the narrow pavement, to the point in Station Approach where you can cross the road, to some steps that lead down into “Spur Road”.  (The steps are right next to the S of Spur Road, in the image above.) But, don’t go down these steps.  Stay at the top of the steps and enjoy the view.

To the far left, you can see the Walkie Talkie.  To the far right, the Spray Can.  Between them is the sprawl of south-of-the-river London.

It’s one of my favourite London panoramas, if only because everyone else who ever sets foot in this place is either in a hurry to get somewhere else, or in a hurry to catch a train.  Nobody talks about this view, the way they do of the view from such places as Parliament Hill or the top of some of London’s big or even not so big buildings

What stops this view being talked up as a “view” is the prominence of all the foreground clutter.  In the background, there are Big Things to be observed, but they do not tower over the foreground.  If anything, the foreground clutter dominates them.  Even the Shard is an almost diffident, even sometimes (depending on the light) spectral presence rather than a “tower”.  Recently there was a TV documentary about the Tower of London, and the impact of it and the Shard, each in and on their time, was compared.  The message was that the Tower then was like the Shard now.  But these two buildings could hardly be more different.  The Tower then was telling London then that the Tower was the boss.  The Shard now politely concedes to London now that London is the boss.

And of course I love this view, because I love London’s clutter, especially roof clutter, and I love it when Big Things can be seen between and beyond the clutter, without necessarily dominating:

image imageimage image

Those shots were all taken within moments of one another, just over a week ago, on a sunny afternoon, the same sunny afternoon I took this.

Stations are great linear photo-opportunities.  This is because railway tracks have to be pretty much dead level.  If the lie of the land is high, the tracks have to be lower, and if the lie of the land is low, the tracks have to be higher, which is also convenient because it enables the railway to jump over the roads on bridges and viaducts rather than compete with them at such things as level crossings.  This causes the platforms of many a station to be at roof level rather than at ground level.

Level crossings will get road traffic across a mere double track out in the country, but are hopeless for getting past the tracks out of Waterloo, one of the world’s busiest railway stations.  The traffic would wait for ever.  So, bridges and viaducts it is, and that means that Waterloo Station itself is dragged up to regular London roof level.  So even if you can’t see anything from Waterloo Station itself, you can from just outside it.  You can from Station Approach.  Well, I can, because I want to.

Sunday May 24 2015

Indeed.  Both of them were photographed by me, in central London, yesterday afternoon.

The first was very striking mainly because of its colour, or the colour it was showing to me.  Very pretty in pink:

image

Seriously, I found this bus very eye-catching.  You don’t expect to see a London double decker decked out in that colour.

It was selling ice lollies.

The second strange bus was this:

image

Something to do with Bayern Munich, as you can see.  I stood as far away from this bus as I could, but the pavement was just not deep enough.  But, you get the picture.

When I got home, I quickly found that the website shown there gets you to some sort of Bayern Munich fan club.  Dittelbrunn is a place just north of Schweinfurt.

But why “Gulp”?  Was “Gulp ‘82” some kind of tournament they won, in 1982?  I asked the internet what gulp means in German, but sadly, all the internet wanted to tell me was the German for gulp.  Anyone?

Saturday May 16 2015

One of my happier fancies here at this blog has been a category of photos called: I just like it!  And I just like this:

image

The point being that the sort of things that I write about here, and investigate, and then photograph very purposefully and self-consciously, often begin just as things that I like.  When I trawl through the photo-archives, I find things that I thought I only started noticing quite recently cropping up casually, years back.

So, what do I like about the above picture?  It certainly isn’t how well those leaves have come out.  (Although in my opinion out-of-control light in a photo at least tells you that it was very sunny.) Do I think the RSC is GENIUS?  Only a bit.  No, I think what I like is the way that the advert is about as pompous as it is possible for an advert to be, yet life goes on right next to it and indifferent to it.  Or maybe not.  Maybe something else completely.

It’s the top of one of those open top double-decker buses, by the way.  And below that, the advert is for a show called Matilda.