Brian Micklethwait's Blog
In which I continue to seek part time employment as the ruler of the world.Home
Michael Jennings on The good done by the Apple Newton
Brian Micklethwait on I think I may at last have found myself a sofa
Tatyana on I think I may at last have found myself a sofa
Katherine James on A new Morrisons is opening in Strutton Ground next Monday
Katherine James on 3D printed baby in the womb
Simon Gibbs on "In order to comply with Google's regulations ..."
Brian Micklethwait on I think I may at last have found myself a sofa
Friday Night Smoke on I think I may at last have found myself a sofa
Brian Micklethwait on I think I may at last have found myself a sofa
Darren on A Bitcoin vending machine and a Lego photographer (and a Lego Hawking)
Most recent entries
- The good done by the Apple Newton
- 3D printed baby in the womb
- A new Morrisons is opening in Strutton Ground next Monday
- Ashes Lag recovery continues
- A Bitcoin vending machine and a Lego photographer (and a Lego Hawking)
- “In order to comply with Google’s regulations …”
- Blue wind
- Don’t judge a new technology by its first stumbling steps
- Me trying to tell Norman Foster and Richard Rogers apart
- I think I may at last have found myself a sofa
- The Met swoops on the Adams Family
- South Bank Architects?
- Colour photography
- Games lovely games
- A quota post (with a quota link to a post about a post about a quota photo) and another quota photo
Other Blogs I write for
6000 Miles from Civilisation
A Decent Muesli
Adventures in Capitalism
Alex Ross: The Rest Is Noise
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Burning Our Money
Chase me ladies, I'm in the cavalry
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Communities Dominate Brands
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Conservative Party Reptile
Counting Cats in Zanzibar
Deleted by tomorrow
Don't Hold Your Breath
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Dr Robert Lefever
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Everything I Say is Right
Fat Man on a Keyboard
Ferraris for all
Freedom and Whisky
From The Barrel of a Gun
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Global Warming Politics
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Here Comes Everybody
Hit & Run
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we make money not art
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Category archive: Transport
Incoming, entitled “Request Link Removal”:
I am contacting you on behalf of Eurostar, we work with their Online Marketing team and are currently reviewing the number of links pointing to the Eurostar website. In order to comply with Google’s regulations, there are a number of links which we are required to remove or nofollow. We have identified such links from your website and would like to request that you either remove the link or add a nofollow tag to it.
The link(s) we wish to be removed can be found here:
[original link written out but it doesn’t fit properly here]
Please can you let me know once you have altered the link or if you have any questions,
SEO Account Executive
360i | 62-70 Shorts Gardens | Covent Garden| London, WC2H 9AH
The link in the above email is to an entire month of postings here, so it took me a while to find the offending link in question. I was half hoping I wouldn’t find it, so I could send a sarky email back saying: Be more specific. Which posting? No such luck. It’s in this posting, where is says “November”. Worth following that link because it is to one of my very best ever (I think) photos.
I don’t understand what a “nofollow tag” is or how to make such a thing work, so I just removed the link.
My link originally went “http(semicolon)//stpancras.eurostar.com/en-gb/why-we-moving” (I’ve changed “:” to “(semicolon)” there to stop this version causing more grief). Trying StPancrasDotEurostarDotCom now gets Google saying:
Oops! Google Chrome could not find stpancras.eurostar.com. Did you mean: www.eurostar.com/stpancras
Interesting that Google omits the question mark there, I think.
So, presumably this is a case of an old Eurostar website that they no longer want anyone reading.
Or is it? I don’t know. Can anyone tell me more about what just happened?
To me, it all has a slightly objectionable taste to it. The link to our site no longer works, so you must remove your link to it. Why? Why can’t the link just not work any more? Does it clog up the internet, or something, with repeated attempts to make the link work? Is that what this is about?
I don’t know how it works for you, but when I am waiting for a bus, I can think of nothing except the bus. When will it arrive? I need to know in advance, or I might not realise it has come and then miss it, by reading a book and ignoring it, for instance. So, I squint obsessively into the distant place where the bus will first be visible.
When a bus does appear, the next question is: Is that the right bus? I need to know. But, my eyesight is terrible. I can just about see that it’s a bus. But what number bus? Is it a number that will suit me?
Last Tuesday evening, I was waiting for a bus to arrive to take me to Chateau Samizdata. For several long minutes, no bus appears, to replace the one I had just missed by about fifteen seconds. Finally, one does appear, emerging from Parliament Square and preparing itself to make its way up Victoria Street, about half away along which I was standing in wait. The usual paroxysm of infuriated uncertainty begins. Will it be a bus numbered in a way that suits me and my intended journey. The bus approaches with its inevitable and inevitably ridiculous slowness, waiting with an absurd deference to legality at the traffic lights next to New Scotland Yard, by which time I am finally able to discern that the number on the front is not the kind of number I want. The wrong numbered bus arrives, and continues up Victoria Street, with me not on it.
Then, another bus appears in the far distance, and that is when inspiration strikes. I realise that certainty regarding the suitability or unsuitability of the bus will come a whole lot sooner if I make use of my camera’s superior eyesight, compared to mine. So, I cranked up the zoom to its maximum, and took this photograph:
That won’t win any photo-of-the-year competitions, but I had my answer just about straight away, what with my camera being able to zero in on the destination and number on its little digital screen. Yes, a good bus. It was another minute or more before I would have been able to confirm this information with my mere eyes, and that was a minute during which infuriated uncertainty was replaced by contented anticipation.
So, another impact of digital photography. Bus stops, for me, are now slightly more fun and slightly less annoying.
This posting also explains why I so greatly appreciate those electronic bus stop signs that tell you exactly what buses are due, approximately when.
I returned to the Radio Bar at the top of the Hotel ME on Saturday 7th of this month, when the weather was brighter and breezier. I was in a hurry to be back for an appointment at home, and did not have time to really look at what I was photographing, and anyway, my eyesight is poor and I can’t see a lot of it if I want to.
So, for instance, when I took this picture, …:
… I thought I was photographing just the one big, obvious bridge, the one with the towers. But it turned out that I was photographing seven bridges. Newcastle eat your heart out. Sorry about that big white circumcised cock in the foreground, getting in the way. It looks like it’s doing radar, but I doubt that.
Moving on quickly from that, let me itemise the bridges, from nearest to furthest away.
Here is a google map which shows how this picture was possible. Where it says ”ME” (photo manipulation is not my strong suit but I did manage to add that), at the far left, is where I was standing, so ME means both me and the hotel of that name. Click on this map to get it bigger:
So, first, nearest to me, on the right of the big white cock, we can see pedestrians crossing the river on Blackfriars Bridge, the road version.
We cannot then see the isolated, do-nothing columns of the Blackfriars Railway Bridge that isn’t, so that doesn’t count. But just beyond those columns, we do clearly see, second, the Blackfriars Railway Station Bridge that is, with its long line of slanting roofs.
Third, we can see the upper parts of the Millenium Bridge (featured in the bottom three pictures here, where there is also another snap of those weird Blackfriars columns), the footbridge that famously wobbled when first opened, which does about half the job of taking pedestrians between Tate Modern to St Paul’s Cathedral.
Fourth, slightly green despite being in the shade, is Southwark Bridge.
Fifth, there is the severely functional railway bridge that takes the trains from the south east over the river to Cannon Street Station. You can just make out a clutch of signals at its left hand end as we look at it.
Sixth, we have “London Bridge”, and I can help adding sneer quotes. What a come-down that bridge is from how London Bridge used to be. No wonder so many people think that Tower Bridge is London Bridge. The actual London Bridge is so boring.
One of the reasons I especially like the new Blackfriars Railway Station Bridge is that it sets a precedent for putting buildings on a London bridge, and makes it more likely that London Bridge itself might one day be rebuilt in something like its former glory. Maybe not quite as tall as it once was, but with buildings on it, like Ponte Vecchio. What would be particularly cool is if, just as in former times, a new London Bridge could be built, strong enough to be a platform for buildings, but if it was then left to individual plot owners to decide exactly what to put on each plot.
And finally, seventh, there is Tower Bridge, at the far right hand end of the map.
London. It just keeps on getting better.
Here are an extraordinarily large number of photos of the Airbus A380, showing off at a Russian air show.
Here is one of my favourites, in the photoing-planes-from-above-and-yet-also-from-the-ground genre, that the A380 so likes to encourage, when showing off at air shows, the point being that for such a big airplane, this is a bit surprising:
I could be wrong, but somehow I don’t think a slogan like that – “Own the sky” - would be used in the primmer, prissier West, now so much more environmentally hesitant about jet airplanes. Not environmentally hesitant enough to actually stop flying them and flying in them, you understand, but environmentally hesitant enough for everyone to pretend they feel bad about it.
I got a very similar shot of the A380 when it performed the same kind of dance routine at Farnborough, in the summer of 2010:
No mention of anyone owning the sky then, there.
Another difference you can see there - see planely, you might say - is the difference a better camera makes. Happily my 2010 camera is not the one I use now, which is rather better.
I like the colour of that. Click for a little more context.
Nice to have a posting that combines sport with poetry, as cricket used to do, rather a lot.
More thoughts about the poem here. The complete poem here. (For some idiot reason my blogging software turns “Lord’s” into “Lord/’s” in that link. Remove the “/” in the URL to view the poem. Anyone know what’s going on there?)
The more I ponder that “impact of digital photography” thing, the more I become convinced that the photographing of text is one of the most significant things that digital cameras do.
On Thursday February 7th 2013, I did this long Photo-Odyssey (best relived by scrolling down through my February 2013 archive) which included passing through Westminster Tube Station. (The description of the place I provided there still reads well, to my eye and ear.) But, at the time, I had not realised I was on a photo-odyssey. That only started happening a bit later:
Had I known I was on a Blogged Odyssey, I would have taken many more shots, of all that dramatic open space with science fictiony structure in among it, supporting the building above and the escalators within, but on Thursday all I thought I was doing was taking the tube.
These are the sort of pictures I would have taken, had I taken them then:
Those were taken, quite hurriedly, in between the two tube train photos in the previous posting, when changing from the Jubilee Line to the District Line, having been at a meeting in Southwark. The last of these pictures, bottom right, has the look, to me, of being upside down. Which is odd.
You may consider these photos a bit blurry and grey. But to me, it’s amazing how well my latest camera, by far my favourite camera ever so far, does in low light such as the light that prevails inside Westminster Tube Station. I have been grubbing through my archives to find out about how and when I started with digital photography. That first camera would have just created hopeless blur had I attempted to do with it what I actually did do with my Panasonic Lumix FZ150.
You can, of course, see lots more snaps of this strange, strange place, by doing, e.g.: this.
In ten year’s time, this place will presumably be festooned with adverts, and those big rectangular spaces of nothing with be crammed with highly colourful and brightly lit window displays. Why this has not already started happening, I do not know. The architect perhaps? Sooner or later, greed will assert itself.
This seems like a not contemptible idea, although I am sure most of my libertarian friends would assume otherwise:
But what I want to know is: Will I be allowed to walk along it and take photos? If so, then I’m definitely for it. If not, then I say white elephant. The very existence of such things, but with me banned from just being on them unless I bring a bike (an idea that terrifies and appals me), would drive me crazy.
I often try to take the perfect photo of Big Things in alignment, from inside trains. But the windows covered in muck and the fact that the train is generally moving, generally ruin all such notions. A continuous platform several yards higher, in the open air, which I could move along but crucially also just stand still on, and snap away anywhere on the line that suits, would be digital photography perfection.
I mean, there presumably has to be a bit at the edge where people can walk their bikes, for when the bikes go wrong, get a puncture, have a chain seizure, or something, or for when the cyclists themselves get damaged and become unable to ride anymore, like when they prang into each other and have to dismount, or have a heart attack and have to lie down. Well, I could walk on that bit. Why not?
It would also be good for occasional athletic competitions, by runners. On Sundays, for instance. If I’m allowed to walk on it, even if not all the time, I’d be generous about letting other nutters indulge in their enthusiasms too.
Aesthetically, I also quite like the idea. Railways nowadays seem always to be covered in clutter, like aerial wires, signals, and so forth. Having a platform on top of all this might actually make it look rather better.
When tube drivers get above themselves and start doing stand-up comedy routines over the intercom during tube journeys, I find this nearly unbearable. I think this is because, when on the tube, I go into a sort of trance, basically to cut out the din of the train, but comedy over the intercom makes that trance impossible to stay in. I find myself listening carefully, despite myself, in case the exhibitionist failed comedian says something of importance, and with that, I am obliged to listen also to the train noise. Horrible.
This (photoed yesterday by me at Embankment Tube Station), on the other hand, is not something I mind at all:
That’s right, platitudinous philosophical ruminations where there should be significant information about service interruptions. But, it didn’t bother me. In fact, I quite liked it.
Writing, as I recall writing in this piece (about how to argue), is a branch of good manners. (In that I actually said “publishing”, but the point is identical.) This is because writing is easily ignored. It puts the reader in control.
The same applies to blogging, in fact to the internet generally. It isn’t an interruption. You are in complete control of it. Except when the damn thing starts making noises (like those damned tube comedians), that you have to spend ages tracking down the noise and switching it off.
Quota photos, I’m afraid, but I like them:
Taken by me at St James’s Park Tube, yesterday. Not really sculpture, of course. But I like the colours that my camera has automatically selected for these images. And I like how the one on the left has the dirt highlighting the shapes, rather like make-up.
More photos of things past
More because I have already done a posting entitled Photos of things past, as I discovered when trying to save the text file I wrote prior to posting this.
I must say, I do find myself missing this Thing. If they hadn’t smashed it to bits, I would definitely be thinking that they should, but now that they have, this kind of Thing is on the defensive, and you find yourself siding with the architectural underdog. I’d certainly not be happy if all traces of New Brutalism were brutally expunged. We need a bit of it to hang around, if only as a warning of how mad architects can get, when they get mad.
This Thing was situated in the roundabout on the far side of Westminster Bridge, now occupied by the big hotel featured in picture 1.3 below. Someone told me a few days back, when I was talking about having posted an earlier picture of it here, that it was a G(reater) L(ondon) C(council) office annex, reached by a tunnel under the road from the main building. So, now that London’s local politicians have moved downstream, to The Testicle, this Thing became superfluous to requirements.
It was destroyed in October 2006, as these photos, taken on October 13th of that year, prove:
On that same day, October 13th 2006, I took other photos, of other things that have moved on, or which soon might.
The first two of these next snaps are of cranes, temporary by their nature. Who knows what that crane cluster (1.1) was building? I could probably work it out, but that isn’t the point. The point is: what an excellent crane cluster! And I think I found another picture I took of it, this time looking along The Strand.
What that blue crane was doing, floating on the river, posing in front of The Wheel, I also can’t remember.
I include the bus (2.1), with its entertaining reflections, because the London Double Decker Bus has now been redesigned, and all other London Double Deckers could soon be Things of the past.
Those wind propellers, on the top of Palestra House, the Big Thing just across the road from Southwark Tube Station, are long gone.
And the final snap there (2.3) reminds us of another kind of temporariness, which is that sooner or later, we all must move on. That snap is of flowers and pictures, placed outside Westminster Abbey, in memory of the then recently murdered (it’s still unsolved) Anna Politkovskaya.
Photoed by me, just under a week ago, in one of the windows of Selfridges.
Anyone interested in new public sculpture should try googling for news about: Falkirk, Kelpies, sculpture, and such things. And be sure to include images in your searchings.
My favourite photos of these newly completed Kelpies are, I think, these ones, which were taken while they were still being constructed, and in particular, I like this one:
Horses heads, and also cranes.
I also like the one with the road sign in the foreground.
STV (Scottish TV presumably) news report today:
The Kelpies, by sculptor Andy Scott, are a monument to Central Scotland’s horse-powered heritage.
Each stands at a towering 30m and weighs over 300 tonnes. At a cost of £5m, the project is intended to be a symbol of regeneration in the Forth Valley.
They are part of the £43m Helix redevelopment of around 350 hectares of land between Falkirk and Grangemouth, including new parkland and pathways. It is hoped the site will attract thousands more tourists to the region and boost the local economy.
The statues were inspired by the supernatural water horses of Celtic mythology as well as the powerful heavy horses that were used in the early days of the industrial revolution.
Mr Scott, who also created the Heavy Horse sculpture on the M8 near Glasgow, said: “During the conceptual stages, I visualised the Kelpies as monuments to the horse and a paean to the lost industries of the Falkirk area and of Scotland.
I just caught the fag end of a TV news report on this, and google did the rest.
It is interesting how the prices of basic supermarket products now seems to fluctuate rather more than they used to. My last stash of Gold Blend also cost £3 a go, for two. Today, I bought three of these packets. For the last few weeks it went up to £4.50, and I held off, waiting in hope of a price drop again. Today, I was nearly out and would have to buy some, no matter what the price. But, glory be, it was down to £3 again.
Could these fluctuations be a consequence of containers? Is it that containers have made supplies of things like branded coffee less continuous, more prone to famine or feast? And are we now enjoying a capitalist version of what happened under communism, in which suddenly a rumour would fly around Moscow saying that a consignment of meat had arrived, and immediately the queues would form. With us, the news that Gold Blend is on offer at Sainsburys flies around on our mobile phones, or in this case is featured on my blog, at which point it’s first come first served.
Or is it merely that logistics geniuses, armed with super-computer-networks, are now able to do sums about the precise prices they need to charge at any particular moment for any particular thing, in order to make maximum use of scarce warehouse and store space? If you get my meaning.
Or maybe it’s a bit of both?
Michael Jennings presumably knows the answer to these questions, because Michael Jennings (see the first two of these comments) knows everything .
I took this photo on Wednesday evening, on the way back home from one of Christian Michel’s 6/20 talks:
Do you think it is gloomy and grim? Maybe so. But Earl’s Court is London’s Australian quarter, or it was in the days of Barry McKenzie. And today I am Loving the Aussies slightly less, although my reasons for this are this, rather than that.
More old photos, this time from the time when the Eurostar trains used to depart from Waterloo:
Taken with my old Canon A70, on June 21 2003. So, over a decade ago. I think the sign on the right of these three snaps is something of an exaggeration. That’s about how long it takes now, isn’t it? Not sure about that.
The pictures are all pleasingly worse than the ones I take now, with my Panasonic Lumix FZ150. It would be terrible to think that neither I nor my cameras had got any better between then and now.
Eurostar came and went from Waterloo from November 1994 until November 2007. Since then, not a lot.
In 2012 a new proposal for the future use of the station was made, namely that it becomes the London destination of all the UK’s sleeper trains. This may become necessary as the phasing out of Mk2 vehicles and their replacement with Mk3 will make the trains too long for the platforms at Euston, and construction of HS2 will make the long sleeper dwell times at Euston untenable. If the Paddington sleepers were also diverted this would concentrate all sleeper services at Waterloo International, thus making use of the former Eurostar lounge facilities for sleeper passengers.
I can’t say I quite follow the logic of all that, but at least Waterloo Eurostar-that-was has not been completely forgotten about.