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

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:

image

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:

image

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.

Thursday October 27 2016

It’s for lots of other things, for other people, like: a telly.  But that is definitely one of the things that the internet is, for me.

Whenever a new kind of information storage or information transmission comes along, people fret that it will replace all the previous ones.  And the others, which when they started were things that people fretted about, become good for you.  When reading by the masses got started, there was concern that the masses were doing too much of it, getting addicted to it, enjoying it too much.  Dear oh dear, can’t have that.  But then telly came along, and reading suddenly became good for you.  Telly was the thing that people were enjoying too much, wasting their lives on, etc. etc.

And now that the internet is here, you even hear people moaning that Young People These Days don’t spend enough time watching telly, because they are, you’ve guessed it, addicted to their smartphones (on which they watch telly).

My own feeling is that Young People These Days spend far more time than is good for them gadding about in the open air and watching tiny screens and not enough time sitting at home watching proper telly and proper computer screens, big enough to see what’s going on, the way God and Nature intended.  But that’s a feeling, based entirely on which exact generation I happen to be a member of, not a real opinion.  Young People These Days, as always, have better eyesight than oldies like me, and, unlike me now, they like to get out and have fun.  When I was a (moderately) YPTD, I loved small screens, like the one on the Osborne.  (Look it up.  Another thing the internet is is a machine for telling you things like what an Osborne was.)

The thing is, new methods of information storage or information transmission typically give the old ones a new lease of life, rather than the kiss of death, at any rate at first and often for ever.  Printing didn’t stop people talking to each other, it gave them interesting things to talk about.  Trains caused a surge in horse transport, to get people to and from the station.  The telly adapts books into telly-dramas, and people buy the books to find out what’s going on and who these people all are.  Telephones, email and now smartphones make it easier to organise face-to-face meetings.  The first big internet business sold books.  And lots of telly shows now consist of bits from the internet, for those who like telly.

And now, for me, one of the most useful uses of the internet is enabling me to keep track of what’s on the regular old telly.  Recently, for instance, I recorded a whole stash of Columbo episodes onto DVD.  But, which episodes were they and what order should they go on the DVD in?  The Radio Times only tells you so much?  How many Columbo episodes were there?  Who else besides Columbo himself was in them?  Step forward, the internet, to tell me all about that.

See also this other blog posting that I just did, in which, among other things, I give a plug to a face-to-face meeting that I will be hosting tomorrow evening.

Tuesday October 25 2016

Incoming from Michael Jennings: One for you.

It certainly is.  Apparently, in Mexico, Uber is using drones to advertise itself, by having them hover, with signs, over traffic jams:

image

Drones to carry adverts, or signs.  But of course.  The possibilities are endless, and the probability is: lots of complaining, drone destruction, car crashes blamed on drones carrying adverts or signs, etc.

Imagine it.  You are going at a speed considered too fast by the Big Computer in the Sky, so it sends a drone out to fly out in front of you, telling you to slow down or be fined.  Or more probably, just telling you that you have already have been fined.  Ah, modern life.  Science fiction just never sees it coming.

By the way, what is that sign saying?

Sunday October 23 2016

Fact about London that is little known by those who don’t live there or don’t go there: black cabs, at least as likely as not, aren’t.

Here are four that I photoed recently:

imageimageimageimageimageimage

The Easyjet taxi is orange all over.  The other three have adverts only on their sides, but two out of three of them aren’t even black on the bits of the taxis where the adverts aren’t.  Only two of these “black cabs” are even partially black, and the RAW taxi is only partially black (ish) because the advert is (ish).

Quite a lot of taxis can be seen which have no adverts, but are just a different plain colour.  White, grey, blue, red, whatever.  I realise that those who live in London or who visit London from time to time know all this, but the world does contain people who do not fall into this category, and maybe you are one of them.  Unlikely, I know, but there are people like this who do read this blog, even if most of them are only spam commenters.

Adverts on vehicles strike me as very photoable, because in a few months the adverts will be replaced, and even the enterprise itself is liable to be gone in a few years.

Speaking of taxis which aren’t advertising anything, but are just not black, how about this one?:

image

I spotted that one recently, outside Victoria Station.  I was in a hurry to meet someone, so I had no time to scrutinise it carefully to see if an advert is actually buried in there, somewhere.  But, I rather think that if that is an advert involved, it is an advert for the artist who did it.  Maybe the artist was paid, or maybe the artist paid.

It might make sense for the artist to pay.  I recently asked a black cabbie how much he got paid for his black cab to be embraced by an advert, and he said it was around seventy quid a month.  That might be worth it for an artist, to put himself about, by flashing pictures of the cab that he had unblackened around amongst his mates and potential customers.  But, what do I know?

Friday October 21 2016

Friday was the day here for cats, but now I have widened it to all kinds of creatures, cats included.

This week, a snake!  On a vintage car!

I took these pictures in the square next to Quimper Cathedral, in the summer of 2008:

imageimageimageimageimageimageimageimageimageimageimageimageimageimageimage

The snake is most clearly to be seen in pictures 1.2, 2.1, 2.2 and 3.3.  I think it must be some sort of air intake, for the engine, or for something.  But what do I know?

Berliet seems to be an enterprise that makes lorries these days.  But if you scroll down through the images you get when you type “berliet” into google images, you start to see vintage cars, in among the more recent lorries.

If you scroll down at this site, you get to something that looks like the above vehicle.  And if it is the same vehicle, or something very similar, then it is a 1907 Berliet C2 Double-Phaeton, or something very similar.

There’s a number plate on the front of my Berliet, which says: 1909 VS 29.  I thought that might be a clue, rather than, you know, a number plate, so I tried “Berliet 1909 VS 29” with google images, and guess what I found.  A Berliet “Double Phaeton” at a car museum in Malaga.

I even found a photo of the car in question, with a ludicrously long internet address attached to it, which I now offer you, in the hope that it works

Well, the link does seem to work, but if it doesn’t, take my word for it.  Although this is not the same car as my one above, it is very similar.  So similar that the car in the Andalusian museum also has, just like my car has, attached to its side, with its mouth wide open, sucking in air, … a snake.  Weird.

Wednesday October 19 2016

Earlier today I stuck up a biggish piece at Samizdata entitled Thoughts on the politics of coastlines, about the age-old conflict between land powers and sea powers.

image

That’s the nearest thing I could quickly find in my photo-archives to a relevant picture, of a ship near London Gateway, which I paid several visits to, way back in 2013.  That’s as close as I’ve been to a British coast any time recently.

Thursday October 13 2016

I recently photoed this van:

image

What intrigued me about it was its minimalist propaganda message.  “GREY MOTH”.

My original thought was that, in the age of google, you don’t actually need a mass of information to find out all you want to know about an enterprise.  That’s what this posting was going to be about.  (I still remember fondly that van outside the Oval, which just said “VOITH”.  I quickly learned all about VOITH.)

Trouble is, if the name of the enterprise is “GREY MOTH”, and you google “grey moth”, well, in addition to the GREY MOTH enterprise, somewhere in there, you get lots and lots of grey moths.  (If you google “voith”, all you get is VOITH.  A voith is not a regular thing, from which the VOITH enterprise merely took its name.)

Luckily, however, there was a website on the van, front and back.  This website was back to front at the front, ambulance style, but I was still able to decypher it as: www.grey-moth.com, crucially including that all-important hyphen.  Which, as you see, gets us where we need to be.  And it turns out to be a very interesting business.  I was thinking that it would be some dreary fashion enterprise, but not a bit of it.  Turns out, it’s an aerial videoing business, using drones.

I’ve been keeping an eye on drones for a while.  And after initially wondering if I might ever buy one, I eventually concluded: no.  If you get a drone, then you will either have to take it very seriously and learn all about how to do it, and become a full-time droner, mastering not only all the technical problems of drones but also the many legal minefields that droners must walk across (safety and privacy to name but two).  Or: not.  And I decided: not.

Drones, in other words, are not toys.  But, they are a huge business opportunity, both for businesses that can make serious use of them, like farms or pop concert promoters or movie-makers, and for people willing to master drone use for a living and to hire themselves out.  Like Grey-Moth does.

Speaking of minimalist propaganda, those Guys & Dolls Unisex Hair Stylists look like they are ("UYS DOL S") on their last hair curlers, if not already gone.

Wednesday October 12 2016

Indeed:

imageimageimageimageimageimageimageimageimageimageimageimageimageimageimageimageimageimageimageimage

Click at will, to get bigger, less square pictures.

Displayed in chronological order.  Taken between May 2011 and August 2014.  When I took that last one, of the bikini-wearing bottle openers, that got me collecting all the others.  That last one is definitely the one where the Union Jacks are having the most fun.

Saturday October 08 2016

Whenever I see an old car, of the sort that was the latest thing when I was a kid, I photo it, or I try to.

See, for instance, those delightful old Citroens in Roupell Street.  Which were there, I have since learned, not because someone in Roupell Street is collecting them, but because someone in Roupell Street is repairing them.

And see also, this ...:

imageimageimage

… which I saw earlier this week, while on my way to a violin and piano recital at the Romanian Cultural Institute in Belgrave Square.  A Rolls Royce, on the way to what turned out to be a Rolls Royce performance.

I used to have a Dinky Toy version of that car.

I am increasingly coming to believe that many of our most powerfully felt aesthetic prejudices are formed in the nursery.  And that a lot of Modern Art is the recreation of those happy sensations, in an enlarged form, suitable for the enlarged people that the nursery dwellers turn into.

But Dinky Toy cars don’t have to be enlarged, because they already have been.  Enlarged Dinky Toy cars are called: cars.

Come to think of it, I also had a couple of Dinky Toy Citroens, a DS19, and a 2CV.  Yes, this explains a lot.