Brian Micklethwait's Blog
In which I continue to seek part time employment as the ruler of the world.Home
Natalie Solent on Victor!
Natalie Solent on Victor!
Peter Briffa on Ashes black out
Michael Jennings on Happiness is Gold Blend at only £3 instead of £4.50
Michael Jennings on Happiness is Gold Blend at only £3 instead of £4.50
Schrodinger's Dog on Happiness is Gold Blend at only £3 instead of £4.50
Tatyana on Victor!
Daniel Hannan on Daniel Hannan's latest book(s?)
Tatyana on Michael Jennings photos the bridges of Porto
Brian Micklethwait on Happiness is Gold Blend at only £3 instead of £4.50
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- Digital photographers holding maps
- More photos of things past
- Father Christmas Aerodrome
- How big should these squares be?
- Daniel Hannan’s latest book(s?)
- The Kelpies of Falkirk
- A quota thought that (luckily for me) went nowhere
- Polish girls in Moscow doing a selfie
- Music classified
- Quota videos
- Happiness is Gold Blend at only £3 instead of £4.50
- Sidwell (and me) on selfies
Other Blogs I write for
6000 Miles from Civilisation
A Decent Muesli
Adventures in Capitalism
Alex Ross: The Rest Is Noise
Another Food Blog
Antoine Clarke's Election Watch
Armed and Dangerous
Art Of The State Blog
Boatang & Demetriou
Burning Our Money
Chase me ladies, I'm in the cavalry
China Law Blog
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Coffee & Complexity
Communities Dominate Brands
Confused of Calcutta
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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Here Comes Everybody
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Last of the Few
Libertarian Alliance: Blog
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My Boyfriend Is A Twat
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Never Trust a Hippy
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Patri's Peripatetic Peregrinations
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Remember I'm the Bloody Architect
Setting The World To Rights
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Stuff White People Like
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we make money not art
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Category archive: Signs and notices
Last night, at Chateau Samizdata, I and all others present drank this:
Until last night I did not know that there was any such thing. Well, I knew there was Sauvignon Blanc, but not called that.
Sadly, I failed to properly include the hippo at the top of the label on the left, but you can see plenty of the hippos here, because of course there is a website and you can read all about it.
Clever marketing, I think. The real wine buffs will like it, if they like it, regardless of the name. “Oh yes, it’s actually rather good, you know” blah blah. And the wine unbuffs like me will like it too, because it’s a laugh, and a bit of a tease of wine buffs of the sort who expect wine not to be called such a thing. So, win win.
Incoming from Michael Jennings:
But, you know what they mean.
Michael, where are you? Or rather, where were you when you took this? (You will presumably be somewhere entirely different by the time you read this.) Georgia was it? Moldova? Az ...something? Something-istan? I think he did say.
Anyway, good luck with the hydro power guys. Dam I love hydro-electricity. Sorry, I have been out, and there was drink.
I am at the moment struggling to complete a long piece for Samizdata, about America 3.0 and Emmanuel Todd, and so forth and so on, so as of now, all other bloggings are off. I hope that saying this here will get me finishing this, but fear it may delay things even longer, because that is what often happens when I make promises of this sort. I generally prefer to promise nothing.
Meanwhile, here is a photo of a butterfly, taken by me in Burgess Park, in May of this year:
I took that photo on the same day that I took this photo. Alas, the Butterfly also had to twisted anti-clockwise.
Read more about the strange history of this butterfly here. Apparently that building is now a boxing club. Muhammed Ali - Mr “Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee” - would surely approve.
Sometimes mistakes caused by not holding the camera still can be interesting.
Today I took several photos (at Victoria Station, like the previous photo featured here) of the station electronic notice board saying where my train was about to go. Basically, I was taking notes to remind myself later of where I had been. But one of these photos went wrong. On the twiddly little screen on my camera it looked, on account of me having moved my camera vertically at the critical moment, approximately like as you see it, top right.
That one won’t last a second when I go through all these at home, I thought. If I was in the habit of deleting snaps on the fly, which I am not, I would have deleted that one straight away.
But now look at how it looked on my big screen, back home on my desk, this evening:
That’s the middle of the picture, to get how big it is when spread out sideways all over my big screen. Click on that bigger picture to get an even bigger version of the original.
I don’t think it’s just me. The smaller picture is much more legible. But the bigger picture is a lot more fun, on account of being less legible. It stops being annoyingly blurry writing, and instead becomes Art.
For some reason, descriptions of crazy economic times seem always, sooner or later, to involve toilet paper. It was true in Russia. It is true now in Venezuela. And it was true in Zimbabwe:
That’s one of the pictures that Corrie (short for Coralee) Chipps showed to members of the End of the World Club, when she gave a talk to us about the Zimbabwe inflation earlier this evening, at the IEA. Not exactly what you’d call entertaining, but most informative. I hope to blog more about this.
Yesterday I investigated another London Park, Victoria Park, out east. Again, too many trees, Big Things only occasionally and distantly visible in among trees.
But at the end of my explorations I found myself at Hackney Wick Overground station. Much better. As railway stations often are, this is a fine spot to photograph surrounding stuff and distant Big Things. And despite the already considerable elevation of the platforms, there was also a footbridge that was even higher than the platforms. Here are some snaps taken from that footbridge:
The white spikes (1.2, 2.1) are the Olympic Stadium, and the big red thing is the Big Red Olympic Thing.
At first I thought that picture 3.2 featured some sort of new bridge, but now I think it’s some sort of big shed, in its early stages.
LATER: No. The thing that looked like a shed being constructed is actually a shed being dismantled. It used to be a big white Olympic sport shed of some sort, and now it is being removed.
Further googling reveals that this used to be the basketball arena.
No, not taken by me, of course not. By my compulsively globe-trotting friend Michael Jennings, who has recently been trotting around in Georgia ...:
Foreigners, eh? An endless source of fun.
… and in Warsaw:
The Warsaw one being bigger, because the title of the email in which this one arrived went:
This is my favourite photo for quite a while.
I’m guessing this is because the old Soviet-imposed Palace of Culture is upstaged behind and beside by skyscrapers, and in front by Polish people actually having quite a good time, buying stuff, doing capitalism etc.
I can remember when that bag of wind John Gray was saying that liberated Eastern Europe, for which people like me had such high hopes, would all end in tears, because in John-Gray-world high hopes always do. But look at it now!
I visited Warsaw in 1984, I think it was. I recall rather liking that Palace of Culture, even though I wasn’t supposed to, on account of the nastiness that it was built to spread, and probably also because of the defencelessly fine stuff that got smashed to rubble to make way for it. I could entirely see why the locals all hated it. I, on the other hand, considered it to be an example of one of my laws, which states that the splendour of a building is inversely proportional to the excellence of what goes on inside it when it first opens for business. Later, better things can get done in the thing. But the tendency is: not to start with.
A few days ago I visited Chateau Samizdata. While there, I picked the brain of its Chatelaine on the subject of my Google Nexus 4, because she now has one of these also.
She showed me various useful tricks. In particular she showed me – and helped me to download – an Android app called BUS LONDON, which identifies the bus stops nearest to wherever you are, and tells you what buses are about to arrive at each stop, when, and where they are headed.
BUS LONDON, in other words, provides you with information like this:
That is a photo I took last night at a bus stop near me. I have always, in my pre BUS LONDON life, found such signs to be immensely useful because so very reassuring. A bus to where I want to go will almost certainly be coming, quite soon, is the message I get, and it is most welcome when you consider the alternative. But only some bus stops have these excellent signs. Hence the value of an app like BUS LONDON.
Irritatingly, however, when I was at Chateau Samizdata, BUS LONDON refused to tell me about the bus stop that I was about to use. This is because this bus stop is a bit further away from CS than it might have been, but is worth the short extra walk because of the greater choice of buses that it offers me. This is a stop that buses converge on, so to speak. But once I got near enough to it, BUS LONDON obliged with all the relevant information.
However, when I arrived at the bus stop, which also has an electric sign like the one in the photograph above, this is what I saw:
I stared and stared at this to see if anything further would happen, but nothing did. This is something I have never seen before. Usually these signs either work, almost always, or occasionally do not work and are blank. Never before have I seen a sign behaving like an 80s personal computer, by publicising its problems like this and getting stuck.
Quite a coincidence, I think you will agree. Within about an hour of acquiring BUS LONDON, I encounter a bus stop sign that fails to tell me what is due, but no matter, because I now have BUS LONDON to tell me!
I could not shake the feeling that my Google Nexus 4 had sucked all the information out of the sign, into itself, leaving the sign utterly confused.
If you think the reflections of all this info are not strictly necessary, and that the reflections might have been cropped out, well, true, but I do like reflections.
Here is the reflection of the first sign, the one near me, rotated and reversed to make it easily legible:
Off topic, but I like it. If you think this reflection to be an irrelevance, then I suggest you redo this posting on your blog, with the first two images cropped, the final image omitted, and these last two paragraphs also omitted. What? You can’t be bothered? Suit yourself.
As do I. Suiting myself being what this blog is for.
That mobile phones have cameras means that even regular people now always have a camera with them. Already, mobile phone cameras are quite good. Soon, they will be as good as all but the best cameras, to the point where ever more people will be satisfied with their mobile phone cameras, and accordingly won’t want to be bothering with dedicated cameras at all. This transition is already under way, a fact which I regularly track whenever I roam about London snapping (among other delights) my fellow snappers and their snapping machines.
This photographer, for instance, looks like he’s using a “phone”, the inverted commas there being because these things are so much more than phones, to the point where the phoning is almost an afterthought. As Michael Jennings said last night, it really is something of an accident that we just happen to call these things “phones”.
Here is a photo I took with my Google Nexus 4, very soon after I got it, of Randy Barnett (already featured here in this earlier posting - bottom right of the first lot of pictures there), speaking at Freedom Forum 2013:
As you can see, the quality is okay, but only okay. Compare with the zoomed photo (at the link above) of Barnett, and you can easily see the difference that a better camera makes. If the Google Nexus 4 camera has a zoom feature, I have yet to discover it.
As the picture above shows, I (of course) had my regular camera with me at FF2013. But last night I was out and about for a short while, without that camera, only the Google Nexus 4. I was dining at Chateau Samizdata, and collecting Amazon stuff that I have delivered there rather than at my own front door, because at my own front door there have been robberies. So anyway, a recent arrive at CS was a keyboard, for use with the GN4, but although pre-warned that this keyboard would require two AAA batteries to make it go, I had forgotten to bring these with me. So, I nipped out to buy some. Without my regular camera.
Sod’s Law decrees that whenever you are out and about without your camera, interesting things will immediately present themselves to you. And one such interesting thing did, in the form of a sign making use of the double meaning of the word Pole. But, Sod’s Law was held at bay by my GN4, which I did have with me, in my jacket pocket, because keeping the GN4 in my jacket pocket at all times except when I am using it is The Rule. Snap snap, which fortunately I had more or less learned how to do:
The GN4 may not be much good for distance Big Things, and the like, but it is fine for a sign.
And since the sign was the point, even though I do like scaffolding, here is the bit of the picture with the sign:
No computerised trickery there, apart from the cropping. More than somewhat blurry, but entirely legible, the whole point of letters being that they hack their way through exactly such communicational barriers.
I know I keep going on about it, but now I will go on about it some more. Signs make great photos. Signs are extraordinarily evocative of the places where they are displayed. Signs tell you what goes on in a place, or what people want to do or are liable to do by mistake, but/and must not. Wherever the public goes, there are signs, especially nowadays, when you are legally responsible for whatever idiotic thing the public does on your patch, unless you can point at a sign saying don’t do that. So, on that wedding day, I photoed signs.
It was, after all, a sign that told me I was in the right place to start with, see 1.1 below. My favourite is 3.2, the one about swan rescue.
No, forget the swans. My even more favourite one is the one that says: this parking space is only for Registrars, 2.2. This told me that there are a lot of weddings here, and that they are accordingly quite good at doing weddings. So it proved.
British Summer Time began last Sunday, and I surely wasn’t the only Brit taken by surprise. According to our excellent and invariably accurate short range weather forecasters (the long range climate guessers are something else entirely), the current (bitterly) cold spell that we are enduring will only end around the middle of this month.
On April 20th, two friends of mine are to be married, hopefully in the warm outdoors, and I hope to be taking photos of it, in the warm outdoors. They hope, as do I, that the cold will soon abate. Fingers crossed. The weather is getting sunnier now, but is still amazingly cold. Coldest March Britain has had for over half a century, they are saying. It was several years ago now that they (i.e. the long range climate guessers) changed Global Warming to Climate Chaos. Wise move. Wiser would have been to shut the fuck up and let Western Civilisation (a) proceed without them fucking with it, and (b) deal with any climate dramas if and when.
Meanwhile, the cold has kept me from roaming London taking snaps during the last week or two. Instead I roam through my recent archives, looking for interesting snaps taken on warmer days.
Here are some more:
This time there are more of those commonplace things that look better in good photos, as I hope you think these somewhat are, than they do when you actually see them. That’s if you even do see them, as in notice them.
Besides which, a double decker bus advert may be pretty obvious stuff to a fellow Londoner. But what if you are one of those lost souls who lives outside London? Or worse, who has never even been to London? Or perhaps never even set eyes on a double decker bus? A double decker bus advert must seem, to such a person, almost unbearably exotic and glamorous.
Note, in the first picture, top left, reflections of these buildings.
A while back, I had an enthusiasm for posting thin, horizontal pictures, of a sort that are ideally suited to the blog format, because they don’t provoke a lot of annoying scrolling up and won (the way the rest of this posting actually does), like this one:
I took that picture near South Kensington tube station, earlier this week. It tells you that the sign is on the outside of a restaurant called “Gessler at Daquise”, which is an odd name for a restaurant, but there you go. Gessler is a Polish family, and Daquise is ... what? A place in South Kensington? A building? There is a Gessler at the Daquise website, and it would appear that “Daquise” is a legendary restaurant, so legendary that they didn’t want to drop the name when the Gesslers took over. Or something:
Several decades of hard work and evolution have produced what arguably is the best Polish food offer in the world. Our U Kucharzy restaurant in Warsaw has gained both national and international acclaim, and was awarded a Bib Gourmand status by Guide Michelin for two years running - the only restaurant in Poland to be awarded such accolade. Now we are running a legendary Polish address in London - Daquise in Thurloe Street, which has been around since 1947. Our aim is to make it great again and we hope to see you there in the process!
Here is another snap of the outside, that shows what it looks like:
I didn’t eat that much, but what I did eat, a pancake, was delicious. The menu looks enticing, as do the prices. I shall return.
Meanwhile, I enjoyed the ambience. Not too loud for intelligent conversation, which restaurants often are, even if there’s no music.
Above all, given the excellent light that day, I loved the look of the place.
Here are two more photos, in the Digital Photography Imitates Art genre.
First, a still life:
Perhaps rather too much stuff there for a proper still life, but I liked it, especially the string of lights and all the little signs. Maybe you had to be there.
And second (note the Rothko influence on the décor in this place) an abstract:
With added mirrors, showing me from the neck downwards.
Most fun of all was the staircase down to the basement toilets:
That’s right. It’s in the front window!
“Grubbings” is a word I inherited from my late father, along with his fondness for the thing that grubbings describes. Grubbings are big building projects in their early, especially below ground level, stage, when they are … well: grubbing, rather than building upwards. My father loved grubbings, and so do I.
It’s often hard to photo grubbings, because they often put a high fence around them and there’s no convenient high-up spot nearby to look over. But at this site, you can climb up some steps (top left) to a Centre Point entrance on the first floor, and photo through the mesh that you see in most of the other pictures.
Even with the internet, it can be hard to know how these kind of things are going to end up. Okay, here are these computer fakes of how they had in mind two years ago for it to be, but who knows if that’s still what they’re thinking.
There is also the fact that there are often so many images of how, at various stages in the design, they envisaged things looking, that it’s hard for a more casual onlooker to keep up. Simpler to just wait and see.
It reminds me of how the Brits confused the Argies during that Brits versus Argies war. Instead of not telling the Argies their plan, the Brits did tell the Argies their plan, and all the other plans the Brits might just as likely be following. The British newspapers were full to the brim with every imaginable plan. And the Argies were baffled, trapped in the headlights of too much information, all of it suspect of course. That’s sometimes how I feel when trying (admittedly not very hard) to find out how some big grubbings in a big city like London are going to end up looking.
After checking out the bottom of the Shard, my next date last Thursday was at the Rose and Crown in Southwark, which meant that I had time to kill. I decided to go back along the Jubilee Line to Southwark, and then walk on towards Lower Marsh, one of my favourite places.
On my way there, I saw this sign, which flags up one of the many reasons I was in such a good mood that day:
This time of year is one of my favourites partly because the days are getting longer again, which lifts the spirits of any photographer of my sort, who relies so much on daylight. But lengthening is not nearly as good as actually lengthy, and February and March are still pretty grim. Except that they are not grim at all, because of the Six Nations. This is the northern hemisphere rugby tournament that takes place around now, annually, between England, Wales, Scotland, Ireland, France, and also, for quite a few years now: Italy.
The commentators were all drooling after Weekend One, which was a try fest. All three games this weekend were consequently very enticing. Could Italy go 2 for 2? Could England do likewise? Who would be 0 for 2, France or Wales? But those games happened this weekend, not last Thursday, so more about them Real Soon Now, maybe (for I promise nothing), but not now.
One thing I will say is that the Six Nations has a lot to do with the fact that it is now nearly Monday, and I am still telling you about last Thursday.
Yesterday, I lived my life, but I am determined, having started, to finish telling you about last Thursday.
So, okay, I have now arrived at Westminster Tube Station.
Most tube stations consist of lots of underground tubes, not just for the trains but also for the people. Westminster Tube Station is different.
In its original form, it was a regular tube station, made entirely out of tubes. But then they built Portcullis House across the road from Big Ben and Parliament, the one with the giant chimneys on top, where MPs now have vast new quantities of office space to wreak their havoc. Many think powerful MPs are a good thing, because they will “hold the executive to account” better, but what they mostly now do is nag the executive to bite off more and more unchewable activity, and complain if the executive ever doesn’t.
While they were building Portcullis House, they combined that with doing a total rebuild of the tube station right underneath it.
And this time around, instead of grubbing about in the ground like moles, they just dug a huge, huge hole, like they do when building any other new building. Just deeper.
As a result, the process of getting from station entrance to train, or from train to train (what with the station now being an interchange between the District and Circle Line, and the newer Jubilee Line - which is the one I was taking), is as dramatic and theatrical as battling through a regular tube station is grim and demeaning and demoralising. At Westminster Tube, you now go up and down inside a huge open space, like a department store with no stuff in it, and grey rather than all spangly and coloured. I love it, even though it has a decidedly fascist feel to it, maybe even because it has a decidedly fascist feel to it. At least its stylish fascism, rather than just lumpy and cloddish. But mainly, I think I love it because it is so different from a regular tube station.
While there last Thursday, I only took one shot, namely this:
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. I would have taken shots like the ones here. Someone really should set a movie gun fight in this place, don’t you think? Perhaps they already have.
As for my picture above, it puzzled me for a while. At first I thought the right-way-round Westminster tube sign was some kind of double reflection, but there is only one sheet of glass involved, so it can’t be that. In the end I cracked it, metaphorically speaking. The Westminster tube sign is where it seems to be, but how it looks is confused by the reflection of the wall behind me. It looks like the sign is projected onto the wall. In fact, the wall behind me is projected onto the sign. To the left, you can see the regular wall that the tube sign is actually attached to.
That white circular thing behind me, actually a fire hose I think, looks like a full moon.
Once again, I fear most may not care. But photographed reflections are a thing of mine.