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

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.

Monday May 04 2015

Part of getting old (new category here – I still have a lot of categorising to do so bear with me on that) is that you just forget to do things, even things that you like.  Thus, I have recently been forgetting to read Anton Howes.  Today I remembered, and started reading, in particular, this posting, which is most recent as of now.

Fun quote:

Uber isn’t a taxi company; it is a market. It provides a trust-based platform made up of assurances and ratings in order to let anyone ask “Can I have a ride? / Want a ride?” without sounding creepy.

Nicely put.

I will now read the whole thing.

Saturday April 25 2015

Brians plural?  Yes, it looks like both the driver and his mate are Brians.

Incoming from Goddaughter 2:

image

Reproduced here with the permission of Goddaughter 2’s glamorous friend.

I like the extra three front headlights.

I don’t like all the creepy stuffed animals in the window.

Saturday April 18 2015

At the point where the east end of Oxford Street connects to the south end of Tottenham Court Road, marked by Centre Point, there is now much building activity.  Centre Point itself is being turned from offices into swanky apartments.  And at the bottom of Centre Point there is to be a new Crossrail station which is being attached at vast expense to what is already a complicated tube junction stroke station.

Urban building activity is often described as being like a wound.  But for me, such a temporary space is a photo-opportunity.  It opens up unfamiliar views of clutter clusters, of entertaining comings together of and alignments of the temporary and the permanent, the ancient and the modern, the mechanical or the eletrical and the architectural.

Here are a few shots I recently took just to the south of Centre Point:

image image imageimage image image

Mostly quite (to me) anonymous stuff, but with a couple of bits of favourite modern architecture in there, the BT Tower and that colourful Piano clump.

Soon, most if not all of these views will be gone.

Sunday April 05 2015

Indeed:

image

One of these.  Brought to my attention by this posting.  Which begins with a puzzle:

Towards the end of last year, Vodacom upgraded the internet service in Suiderstrand from EDGE to HSDPA. That was great, although quite why they didn’t go all the way and make put an LTE connection in, I don’t know.

Me neither.  Can’t help you there mate.  If you think you know the answer put it there please, rather than here.

As for 6k’s Ships on a Roof picture, I bet he saw my horizontalisation of it coming, even as he was taking the shot.

Thursday April 02 2015

I recently decided to keep an eye open for newspaper front pages.  Yesterday, I snapped, among others, this one:

image

It was the airplane nearly crashing, or seeming to, that got my attention.

I tried to chase up the story, and eventually found it, not in the Times, behind its paywall, but at the Manchester Evening News, and I found a slightly better version of the picture at the Daily Mirror, in a piece about the generally windy weather we’ve been having lately:

image

The Manchester Evening News quoted a spokesman for Monarch, the airline whose plane was featured in this picture.  He had some interesting things to say about how the camera had, on this particular occasion, told somewhat of a lie:

A spokesman said: “Over the last few days the country has experienced extremely high crosswinds.

“The image depicts a completely normal landing given the weather conditions on the day.

“The image was taken at long range and therefore is deceptive.

“The foreground in this picture is higher than the touchdown zone on the runway - proven in this case by the lower wheel appearing to be in the ground, which was not the case.

“As seen in this image, it is common practice for pilots to perform a crosswind landing in these conditions.”

After I had had a closer look at this photo myself, I was going to say half of this myself.  The foreground is higher, and makes the plane look lower.  What I had not realised was that the plane was actually in the air.

I notice, however, that the subheading of the Manchester Evening News report quotes the bit about how this was a “completely normal landing”, above the photo that, as explained, makes it look anything but, thus deliberately suggesting Monarchical complacency.  But the spokesman didn’t just say it was normal.  He explained why it looked abnormal, without actually being abnormal.

Monday March 30 2015

imageOn your right, you see a picture of a building, with some vaguely cloudy weather above it.  Right?  Well, click for the big, and true, picture.  And discover why the first view I gave you was so small.

I took this picture at lunchtime, near London Bridge Station, last Saturday.  I was trying to find my way to LLFF15, and getting lost, basically because I departed from London Bridge Station in completely the opposite direction to the one I should have departed in.  But I did get some good snaps as a result.

Because I was in a hurry to get to LLFF15, I did not pause to identify any of the buildings in this photo.  Another time.  Which I will definitely contrive because there is a lot of building activity going on around there.  It isn’t just the Shard, it’s the whole area. In particular there is Guy’s Hospital, now receiving a facelift.

You’re right.  Rather feeble stuff, and for the second day in succession.  But I am still feeling distinctly unwell.  Judging by the state of the weather, had I ventured out today I would have felt very much under it, and would probably have made things worse.  Lurgies these days seem to go on for a lot longer than they used to.

I see two White Vans there.  One decorated (by the look of it) and one plain.  Those things are everywhere.

Thursday March 26 2015

Is it a bird?

Yes:

image

Is it a plane?

Yes:

image

And it’s also a partial eclipse of the sun.

We had this in London, earlier in the week.  All I remember is that I, one of the seemingly small minority of people who realise that Britain’s next day weather forecasts are accurate, ignored it, knowing that it would be clouded out of view.

Which it was.

A routinely good way to photo something which is only quite interesting is to line it up with something else that is similarly quite interesting.  The result can be very interesting.

Monday March 23 2015

First, an outstanding White Van photo snapped from what looks like the inside of a cafe, by Simon Gibbs, to whom profuse thanks:

image

I’ve been photoing White Vans for a month and more, but have never got three of them in one go like that.  That arrived chez moi first thing this morning.

And then, to my amazement, this was this at Guido, also today:

image

That’s right.  Labour have launched there very own White Van!  You wouldn’t dare make that up.  I knew I was onto something with all this White Vannery.

The problem for the Labour Party here is that Essex White Van Man, the original beast, doesn’t work as an employee driver for Wellocks, or for Office Revival or for Yate Supplies (these being the enterprises who own and whose glory is proclaimed by Simon’s three White Vans above), and certainly not for the Labour Party.  He has his own White Van, which is entirely white, as you can see when you peruse that original tweet that got all this fuss started:

image

That snap being a recent one of mine.  And, as Guido points out, a proper Essex White Van is not a Merc, as the Labour White Van is.  He doesn’t go on to say that it should be a Ford Transit, as above, but it should.  The White Van in the original tweet is a Transit.

This new Labour White Van is supposed to separate Labour from the la-di-da world of London and to assert its connection to the common (i.e. non-rich-London) man.  But it fails to do this, because, as these recent White Van postings of mine have been explaining, White Vans covered in poncey graphics are now quintessentially London.  I assume that they have also become quintessentially Wigan and quintessentially Rotherham and for that matter quintessential Dagenham.  But I further assume that when true-blue Wiganians and Rotherhamians and Dagenhamians look at them, they see, not their local culture, but cultural imperialism by bloody London.

(Damn.  I did everything to this posting put actually post it “today”, so I’m leaving the date I originally attached to it.  Cheating I know but it talks about Monday as today, so Monday it is.)

Thursday March 19 2015

Following on from yesterday’s White Van, here is another White Van, which marks the moment when I first started really noticing these things.  It was parked outside an office just round the corner from my front door:

image

Let’s take a closer look at the driver’s door of this White Van.  Because the exact moment when the whole White Van thing clicked inside my head was when I saw, and photoed, this:

image

There you go.  They’re having a laugh about White Van Man.  I told you it was a thing.

This happened on December 17th of last year, which was about a month after the Shadow Ministress did her tweet that cost her her shadow job.  But they’ve been driving around in that joke since well before all that, as this blog posting from April of last year proves.

And I know this got me thinking about White Vans, because the very next photos I took were of this:

image

I had been noticing this other White Van hanging around near my home, but until that moment I had not considered it something worth photoing.  Then, I did.  And, off an on, I’ve been photoing such vans ever since, although few of them as lavishly decorated as that one.

Wednesday March 18 2015

Ever since that ruckus when a Labour Shadow Cabinet Ministress got into hot water with a tweet which involved a White Van, I’ve been photoing White Vans.  And, in fact, I think I have been doing this since before that little drama.  This White Van, photoed by me today in the Covent Garden area, is one of my favourites so far:

image

The point is, White Vans have rather gone up in the world.  Lots of them now come with much carefully designed décor and info.  London now abounds with fleets of White Vans thus decorated, white being the preferred colour by far.  It’s like an automotive uniform.

It’s as if White Vans have a sort of macho-stroke-ironic appeal to those who drive them, and to the rest of us.  The drivers, when asked what they do for a living, can say: I drive a White Van.  Oh, ha ha ha!  But no, not one of those White Vans, the sort they have in Essex.  Oh no.

Or alternatively, if the driver is a genuine White Van Man, with no irony involved, of the sort that lady politician was having a go at, he’s happy too, even if he would probably prefer plain white, rather than all that poncey verbiage.  And he’d rather have sacks of cement or tubs of plaster in the back there, rather than nerdy SF stuff.

Well, not sure about that.  But White Vans are definitely, as they say nowadays, a thing.

Tuesday March 10 2015

Late this afternoon I went walkabout near to where I live, and in particular to photo my local ballerina, at the top end of Victoria Street.  There’s lots of building going on around her, so the nearby and behind scenery keeps changing.  My favourite shot of her today was this:

image

At the time, that bus driving by seemed like it was an interruption, but now I think it definitely adds something, to a part of the shot which wouldn’t have been half so interesting without it.

Saturday February 28 2015

I just googled “3D printing” and clicked on “images”.  One of the more interesting images I encountered was this one ...:

image

… which I found here.  The point being that this is one of those technologies which lots of people are getting excited about, perhaps as something they might be able to do themselves, for fun but also for profit.  But most of the significant early applications of 3D printing seem now to be by businesses which were already making stuff, and now have another way to make it.  Regular thing makers (for those not inclined to follow links that’s a link to pieces about the use of 3D printing by the aerospace industry) have a huge advantage over “home” 3D printers, which is that they already know what would be worth making.

And making in quite large quantities, which means that they can acquire or construct highly specialised 3D printers for those particular items, which use their own very particular material inputs.  3D printers, if they are to pay their way, must surely specialise.  Which means they’ll be applied first by businessmen, rather than by mere people in their homes.

I have yet to hear about any 3D printing killer app which will kick off the much talked-of but yet-to-occur home 3D printing revolution.  It will come, I’m sure.  But it hasn’t come yet.

Wednesday February 18 2015

Today was the first first day of spring, so to speak.  By this I mean that it was the first day of 2015 which made in clear that winter would eventually end and that summer would eventually arrive.  Cool, but blue sky and sunshine.  Meanwhile, winter may soon resume but spring at least is now officially on its way, and will happen.

As a technically rather incompetent photographer, heavily dependent on good light, I rejoice.  The season of rootling through the archives is nearly over.  The season of adding to the archives is getting started.

And, also today, I went to a funeral, in Salisbury, which is about an hour and half out of London by train, in a south westerly direction.  The last time I ventured out of London into that part of England that is not-London for a ceremony, the weather was similarly excellent

As soon as we stepped out of Salisbury station, strange and exotic sights presented themselves, such as this Stonehenge Tour Bus:

image

But there was something odd about it.  It appeared to be leaning over somewhat, away from us.  When I got round to the front of it, I saw that appearances had not deceived.  It was leaning over:

image

How can a bus do that?  Was the suspension malfunctioning?  Was the Stonehenge Bus leaning over on purpose, in order to help a wheelchair bound passenger to embark?  Was it partly parked on the pavement, and was a suspension computer overcompensating?  Was there a kink in the road, downwards, next to the pavement?

I couldn’t hang about to investigate or to ask.  We had a funeral to get to.  But, odd.