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

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Category archive: Design

Wednesday May 01 2019

And this blog stops now.

Not before time.  For many years it has been too slow, too clunky and just too all round ridiculous.  More recently, and longer ago than I care to think about, (my management of) the comment system went to hell, as I’m sure you noticed.

So, time for a new blog, and here it is.  As of now, all new personal blogging by me goes there, and quite a lot of the old personal blogging done by me here has also started going there too, so that if I want to link back to it, nobody has to endure coming back to here.

I’ve hardly mentioned this new blog here, until now.  A new blog is not something you want to be promising endlessly, before it finally gets going, far later than you had been promising.  You just need to get it ready, taking as long as that takes, and then launch it, and then tell people about it, just as I’m telling you now.

Not that the new blog has been perfected before its launch.  It has merely been - please allow me this neologistical verb – adequated.  Many tweaks and improvements, both in working and in appearance, will surely follow, especially given that my good friend Michael Jennings set up the new blog for me, and will surely continue to take – not a “proprietorial” (that would be me), but you know what I mean – interest in its workings.  My thanks to him, in advance for any future help and for all the work he’s already done.

My thanks to Patrick Crozier who started this blog up for me, many years ago when it wasn’t ridiculous, and to The Guru (he knows who he is) for all the help he has given me over the years, keeping this blog afloat when it would otherwise have sunk without trace.

So, goodbye, hello and welcome.

Saturday April 27 2019

Yes, I like to photo signposts.  You know where you are, with signposts.  Because they pretty much tell you where you are.

Here’s a signpost photo I photoed in March 2012:

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But there’s more to it than just having a note of where I was, useful though that is.  There’s something about actually seeing those particular names of particular places which makes the fact that this is where I really am – and then later: was - come particularly alive.

As you can tell from the previous paragraph, I don’t really know how to explain this fascination of mine.  And just now, I am too knackered, having spent the day recovering from a Last Friday of the Month meeting that happened last night.  Dominique Lazanski: very good.  My front room: very full.  Aftermath: lots of crap to tidy up.

Yesterday was a day when I had to be very energetic and alive, to get ready for that meeting.  So, I was.  (Hence those four blog postings yesterday.) Today, I could be knackered.  So, I was.

Friday April 19 2019

But it does very well without one.

Video here.

I’ve included “War” in the category list below, because the battlefield is surely one of the places where these contraptions will make their creepy presence particularly felt.

Wednesday April 17 2019

Yes, telling you about how I’ve been in France.

So. where was I?  In France?  Well, to give you an idea, here are some of the excellent places I visited:

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Whenever I am in foreign parts, I always photo signs, adverts, and the like.  Every place has its own style for doing such things, so signage photos can be very evocative, when you look back at them.  Also, they tell you where you were, and hence what all the other photos taken at the same time were of.

Click on the above photo-fragments to get some context.  If you are curious about any of these places, well, you now have the words you need to go searching.  Words are already links, in the sense that you don’t need me to turn them into links.

I especially like how, when you leave a French town or village, you get a sign with the name crossed through with a red line (2.3).

I also photo war memorials, keeping a particular eye open for repeated surnames.  In Lagrasse (3.1), Baillat, Fontvieille and Jougla are surnames that each get two mentions.

I also like to photo the stuff in tourist shops, especially the postcards (1.1 and 3.2).  That way, you get what tourists generally consider to be the best views, and are alerted to interesting local things which you otherwise might miss even learning about.  Although, in St Cyprien, I got a bit of aggro from a couple shopkeepers who objected to me photoing their produce instead of buying it.

Friday April 05 2019

On June 13th 2008 I was wandering about in Quimper, photoing photos.  Mostly the photos were of such things as Quimper Cathedral with its twin spires, photoers photoing Quimper Cathedral with its twin spires, that kind of thing.

But in among all those, and with no accompanying explanation (like a context photo with less zoom (memo to self: always photo a context photo if it might help)), this:

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KanaBeach seems to be some sort of Brittany based clothing brand ("Kanabeach est une entreprise de vêtements bretonne"), which a few years later seems to have crashed and burned, after which catastrophe it may or may not have made a recovery.  (A recovery attempt which involved a giraffe, for some reason.)

But, I have no idea who Jean-Francois Kanabeach is.  And I am similarly baffled by the Nuclear Rabbits From Outta Space.  Google’s basic reaction to that was, first off, to ask if I meant “Nuclear Rabbits From Outer Space”.

A rabbit was, so it says here, launched into space in 1959.  And the Chinese did some stuff on the Moon in 2013, with something called the Jade Rabbit (aka Yutu).  But Nuclear Rabbits, from Outta Space?  Quesque c’est? Usually the Internet has something to say in answer to questions like this.  But in this matter, rien.

Thursday April 04 2019

I read quite a while ago, because I got sent a proof copy.  What do I think of it?  Very good, and with one especially good moment near the end, which (spoiler alert: I’m about to say something about this moment) I thought was a very acute comment on the nature of human moral beliefs and intuitions, and which I thought was very well set up to achieve maximum dramatic impact.

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As I have to keep explaining, Roz Watkins is my niece, that being why I keep plugging her books at this blog when most of what you see here is stuff about London and my photos of London.

Trouble is, writing about detective thrillers is a bit of a mug’s game.  I am used to writing about books of the sort where you are allowed to go into the details of what the book actually says.  If I find the argument presented in a book, of the kind I’m used to writing about, to be persuasive, then I can say so and say why.  But when you are writing about a detective thriller, telling everyone what it says, and especially how it concludes, is a big no.  Those who “review” books like this one seem often to be reduced to cliches, all about how they stayed up all night reading it, did not see the end coming, liked the general atmosphere, the leading characters, the dialogue, and so on and so forth, in pretty much those sorts of words.  In particular, reviewers compete with each other to find out how many generalised adjectives they can deploy as a substitute for “very good” (see above).

So, yes, I think this book is very good, but if you want to know why I think that, you’ll have to read it.  Even then, you might not discover, because maybe you’ll disagree with me.  (At which point you too will be forbidden to explain in any detail why you didn’t like it.)

One thing I can say without any fear of giving away any plot details is that the title on the cover of this second book is a lot easier to read (light coloured lettering, mostly dark background) than the title of the first one (lightish lettering, light background) was.  I thought that the first book, The Devil’s Dice, was very good, but I think this second one is a bit better, partly for the reason vaguely alluded to in the first paragraph of this, and partly because I found the politics of it (there is some politics, loosely defined (as in: not British party politics)) to be intriguing.

Saturday March 30 2019

Photoed by me, recently, in the road:

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I still feel a bit bad about the fact that, laden as I was with shopping, I just photoed this, and then left it there.  Should I have rescued it and handed it in to someone?  Well, I didn’t.

I wonder what the story was.

Thursday March 28 2019

Today, thanks to GodDaughter2, who is a singing student, I got to see a dress rehearsal of a new opera being staged by English National Opera called Jack The Ripper: The Women of Whitechapel.  I had my camera with me, but these places don’t encourage photography, so I was assuming I’d emerge from the Coliseum with only the memories of what we’d seen and heard.

The story was, of course, gruesome, and GodDaughter2 grumbled about the lighting, which was relentlessly dark and depressing.  However, the music was pleasingly tonal, drenched in melodies, and most especially in harmonies, of a sort that seemed, in my youth half a century ago, like they’d vanished from the world of new opera for ever.

Back in that stricken post-Schoenbergian musical no-man’s-land, posh music was thought to “progress”, like science.  And it had progressed up its own rear end into unmelodious, unharmonious, unrhythmic oblivion, and because this was progress, no way back was permitted.  But then, that was all blown to smithereens by the likes of Philip Glass and John Adams.  Iain Bell, the composer of Jack The Ripper, operates in the musical world established by those two American giants.

So even though we were about a quarter of a mile away from the action, up near the ceiling, and thus couldn’t make out anyone’s face, just being there was a most agreeable experience.

And then come the curtaln call at the end, there was another nice surprise:

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That being the final surtitle of the show, to be seen in the spot up above the stage where all the previous surtitles had been saying what they had been singing.  So I got my camera out, cranked up the zoom to full power, and did what I could.

The curtain calls looked like this:

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I was particularly interested in the lady in the yellow dress, on the right of the four ladies (guess what they all had in common), because that lady was Janis Kelly, who is GodDaughter2’s singing teacher at the Royal College.

Rather disappointingly, for me, was that most of the photos I took of Ms Kelly were better of the lady standing next to her when they were taking their bows, a certain Marie McLaughlin:

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But I did get one reasonably adequate snap of Ms Kelly, suitably cropped (the photo, I mean) to remove Ms McLaughlin, whose nose had been sliced off in the original version that had emerged from the camera:

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My camera now has much better eyesight than I do, and the gap seems to grow by the month.  Okay, that photo is rather blurry.  But there was a lot of zoom involved. I only managed to decipher about a third of those surtitles.  One of the key members of the cast was black, but I only found this out when I got home and saw her in one of my photos (see above).

I hope a DVD, or perhaps some kind of internetted video, of this production emerges.  And I think it might, because this is a show full of pro-female messages of the sort that appeal to modern tastes, and featuring one of the most spectacular exercises in toxic masculinity in London’s entire history.

I’m now going to read the synopsis of the show at the far end of the first link above, to get a a more exact idea of what happened.

Friday March 15 2019

Here are three photos I took, on May 21st of that year:

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I vaguely recall refraining from showing them here (and there was indeed a here then) because I had no idea what was going on.  I still have no idea what was going on.  I should have asked more questions at the time.

Some kind of sporting event promotion perhaps?

Sunday March 10 2019

Here:

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It reminds me of the scene at the end of Starship Troopers (a scene which I may now be imagining (but I think it happened)) where the victorious Starship Troopers celebrate their capture of The Queen Bug.

Tuesday March 05 2019

Today a friend needed some rather dramatic medical attention, and I dropped by to provide what I hope was a little moral support.  Outside the place where this was happening, I encountered this cute little vehicle:

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Two interesting things about this little gizmo.  First, there is the way that its door opens.  The door on its right is open, in the above photos.  Useful in a tight space, I should guess.

And second is what it does, there being a website on it which enables you to learn about this.  It takes tissue or samples from sick people to a lab, where the lab decides its opinion about the nature of that sickness.

I like these little cars, which are so small they are almost motor bikes.  I certainly prefer them to those huge Chelsea Tractors, which look like they’re for doing bank robbery getaways or off-roading or maybe both at once.  Which, let’s face it, most Londoners do neither of, ever.

Monday March 04 2019

I took this photo of the big 3D map of London that is in the Building Centre, Store Street, in 2010:

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And here is a close up of that distant City Cluster that you can vaguely discern in the distance, above:

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Gherkin, tick.  Cheesegrater, tick.  Crossrail, semi-tick, still slogging its way towards belated completion.  But, note the Helter Skelter, which never happened.  That’s the tall and twisty one in the middle there, that looks like a helter skelter.  They started it, but then they (presumably a different they) turned what they had into something different, 22 Bishopsgate.

Some photos get better with the passing of the years.  Soon, the Helter Skelter will be largely forgotten.

Tuesday February 19 2019

This afternoon I was in Bermondsey, seeing a man about a blog, and without doubt, the oddest photo I took in my Bermondsey wanderings today was this one, of a garage door:

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Here is a closer up view of the writing at the bottom:

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Click to get that a lot more legible.

Do you care about this?  It made me smile, but I really do not care if it is true.  If you do, and haven’t already acquainted yourself with this tale and made up your mind about it, then read this, which merely reports on the claim (made in 2008 by a mate of Tommy Steele’s), or this, which is more scornful, or this, which is very scornful indeed.  Elvis did fleetingly visit Scotland, apparently, but was stuck at the airport.  The most scornful of these reports is Scottish, assuming that I am correct in believing “Shields” to be in Scotland.  Can’t have the damn Sassenachs steeling their thunder.  Ho, ho.

Rather surprisingly, I only found one other photo featuring what I photoed today, here.  But that could just reflect my inadequacy as an internet searcher.

Thursday February 07 2019

There’s a bridge right near where I live that is wending its way through politics to the point where geography and physics and civil engineering will take over, and they will actually start building it.

I refer to the biking-and-walking-only bridge that will eventually join Battersea to Pimlico:

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The bridge is at the stage where they are trying to pacify objectors to it.  Hence this Canaletto-like pseudo-photo, in which the actual bridge itself is hardly to be seen at all!  How could anyone possibly object to this wraith-like presence, scarcely visible through the mist rising from the river and bathing everything in obscurity?  The steel struts that will eventually to be seen holding up the actual bridge are invisible in this pseudo-photo, so it’s just as well that the bridge itself, as (just about) seen here, is made by laser-beams projecting into the mist and weighs nothing at all!  If you want to protest, protest about those big lumpy old boats clogging up the river and making such a rumpus, not the ghost bridge.

That’s the trouble with infrastructure.  Those who will be disrupted by it know exactly who they are, or they think they do.  But the far greater number of people who will have their lives somewhat improved by by this or that item of infrastructure only find out about this after it comes on stream.  On in this case, on river.

My guess is: I will like this bridge, and will quite often walk across it, if only to avoid a there-and-back-the-same-way walk to and from Battersea.  (Now, to avoid this, I often take the train from Battersea to Victoria, and then walk home from there, past my local supermarkets.) But that’s only a guess.  Meanwhile, those who now live in the peace and quiet of Georgian Pimlico just know that their sleep will from now on be ruined by noisy bike gangs at 4am, making their way from Notting Hill (after a spot of carnival rioting) to Brixton, and if not by that then by something else equally unwelcome, perhaps originating in Battersea and walking across the river, while probably being drunk.  Why take the chance?  So, if they can stop the bridge, they’ll stop it, just to make sure.

Monday February 04 2019

Last night I dined at Chateau Samizdata, which is in the Fulham Road.  I always get there early, but like to be exactly on time in order not to disrupt the preparations.  So, I typically walk about a bit, looking for photo-ops.

Last night I walked east along the Fulham Road towards the centre of London, and came upon Michelin House, which I knew was somewhere around there, but had never clocked before as being so very near to Chateau Samizdata.  This building occurs at the point where the Fulham Road is turning into Brompton Road.

It has a wonderfully eccentric stained glass window, at the front, at the top ...:

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… which had been thoughtfully lit from behind.

I image-googled this building, and I could not find this particular view of it.  There are one or two views to be seen of this window from inside the building, but none that home in on the window, in the dark, from the outside, with that all-important internal lighting.

I think that this window deserves to be viewable in as many ways as possible, from inside, and from outside.  As does the whole building.

I considered cropping my photo, but the photo exactly as taken supplies just that little bit of architectural context, so I left it as was.