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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: Signs and notices

Friday January 20 2017

Today will be the forth consecutive day of clear skies over southern England.  On Tuesday and Wednesday, the first two of these four days, I journeyed to East London, and today I plan to do the same.  (Yesterday, I just couldn’t make myself do this.  Instead I got a haircut.)

Living and working on my own, to my own schedule, creates problems as well as solving or abolishing them.  Being old, I basically have to get up as soon as I wake up, in order to squirt urine where it needs to go rather than where it doesn’t.  And, having woken up, getting to sleep again can then be difficult and time consuming.  Either I do this, eventually, which takes a big bite out of the beginning of my day.  Or, I stay awake, which means that by the early evening I will be asleep in my chair.  I am staying awake today, to make maximum use of all that sunlight which even now I can see outside.  But, if I leave my self-imposed blogging duties for today to the evening, I will find this very difficult.  This evening I will be both sleep-deprived and exhausted from my wanderings.  Also, I want to be at an event this evening.  So, I am blogging now, before journeying to East London.

It is for times like these that I collect photos that I just like into special directories, of photos that I just like.  Since today is Friday, my day for cats and other creatures, here is an other creature:

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A rather blurry photo, so no clicking for anything bigger there.  That’s it.  But click on this, of the sign under the elephant, if you want to read more about it:

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Having to get up every few hours when trying to sleep is a penalty of old age, but a better thing about being old right now is that the indiscriminate inquisitiveness of oldies like me is now more easily answered, without me having to pester any actual humans.  Getting old used to mean remaining permanently confused by more and more random stuff, but less so now I can just ask the www.  Time was when a photo like the one of this elephant in my archives would have remained for ever mysterious.  Now, I can learn all I want about to about it.

Here is a better elephant sculpture photo, which I found here

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But why is the union jack elephant a different shape to all the others?  I could find this out, probably.  But can I be bothered?  Do I care?  No.

Thursday January 19 2017

I took the photo with this marriage proposal in it in March of 2009, in Sheffield.  All I thought I was photoing was a footbridge (I like footbridges) with graffiti on it.  Did I even clock it was a marriage proposal?  Maybe, but if so, I immediately forgot about it.

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Click on that, and you actually get a different picture, which shows two footbridges rather than just the one, which means I prefer it.  Two footbridges on top of each other is a bit strange.

Pictures are hard to google, or hard if you are me.  Can you now say to Google: “Show me all the pictures you have like this one”?  Maybe you can, but I can’t.  But words I can do.  And I just typed “clare middleton i love you …” (helpfully, the graffitist supplied a name) and google immediately got what I was on about, and, well, here‘s the story:

One spring day in 2001 a tall man walked into Sheffield’s Park Hill flats and along a street in the sky. He strode past the brutalist flanks, out on to the footbridge. He thought: this’ll do.

Jason didn’t look down; he gets vertigo and he was 13 storeys up. He leaned over in his yellow Puffa jacket and sprayed her name. “Clare” came out haphazardly and “Middleton” hit the ledge. He planned to take her to the Roxy on the facing hill, to show her. So now he began again, bigger, clearer: “I LOVE YOU WILL U MARRY ME”. It was his two-fingers-up at the social services office opposite. He scarpered. Seeing it, Grenville, one of the estate’s caretakers, said to the on-site office: “How are we going to get that off?”

They didn’t. The graffiti stayed, high above the city, while the city argued about what to do with the flats. Park Hill, the concrete estate behind the railway station, had become notorious. The city projected abandonment on to Park Hill, so the graffiti started to look like love yelling at the top of its voice in an estate thought to be desolate.

Soon it was also looking like PR. ...

It wasn’t a happy story, ever, and it had no happy ending.

Park Hill, Sheffield, is one of those famous bits of architecture that the architects go on and on about, but which the public hated, until such time as this public said to knock it all down, at which point it became clear that a different part of the public had grown quite fond of the thing.

One of the architects of Park Hill was a man called Ivor Smith, in whose office I worked, briefly, when I was trying to be an architect.  He was personally a hugely likeable man, with a delightful family who put up with me when I was at maximum unputupwithability.  But, his politics did not appeal to me, and those Park Hill buildings were all part of that.

Tuesday January 17 2017

The trick with photography is knowing what to photo in the first place.  In particular, you need to be photoing things that are not going to be the same if you come back later.  Photoing captures the ephemeral, far better than it celebrates the eternal.  This being why people like photoing their kids.  Soon, they’ll be different.  But, a photo of Big Ben?  It’s been done.  A lot.  No point in another of those.

Or what about something else that changes, like the price of a piece of electronics?  I took this photo of such a price, in February 2005:

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I have helpfully picked out the price and photo-enhanced it, so you can read it without any clicking.  That’s a terrible photo, technically, but no other photo in that directory ("miscFeb05") is anywhere near as entertaining.

You can now get a telly that is the same shape and size as that one was, and presumably far better to look at, for one fifteenth of that price.

I love how it is reduced from £7,999.99.  So if you had bought it then, you’d have saved five hundred quid!  Now five hundred quid is the entire cost.  (Which you can now save by not buying it.)

Saturday January 14 2017

Photoed by me, earlier this evening, in Leicester Square:

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Somebody gave me a leaflet, about this, while I was photoing.  Maybe this was what the demo was about.  Maybe not.

Friday January 13 2017

Sport yet again.  And yes, I’ve still got plenty to tell you, in January, about one of my favourite days out last year, which was on November 28th, which I have already written about five times already.  There was the shining moment described in this, and the three earlier moments linked to from there.  And there was this next shining moment.  And now there is the Spurs Shop, which looks like this:

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Not very exciting, I think you will agree.  But the stuff inside, the sort of stuff I have never ever seen before gathered together in one place, was, for me anyway, a remarkable sight:

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So, what do we see there?

1.1: is a cardboard model of the old Spurs stadium, the one they are about to trash and replace, yours for £30, but you have to construct it.

1.2: Spurs clothes.  Lots of Spurs clothes.  Plus big Spurs slogans.

1.3: Spurs cards to tell your associates that this is your room.  Really.  Very blurry.  Only realised that this was what they were just now.

1.4: Spurs mugs.  It says everything about the state of the Premier League that I looked at this photo, and read Kane as “Car Nay”, like he’s from Africa.  Alli, like Kane, also plays for England.

2.1: More Spurs mugs, this time with the tasteless cartoon cock, rather than the tasteful and elegant proper one.  AIA is an Asian insurance company.

2.2: Spurs clocks.

2.3: Spurs wall stickers and, click and look on the right, Spurs flags.

2.4: Spurs luxury rugs.  (And more Spurs clothes.)

3.1: Spurs luggage tags.  And I don’t know what those yellow striped things on the right are, if you click on that.  Some kind of Spurs bags, I think,

3.2: Spurs 5M retractable dog leads and Spurs dog collars.  For actual Spurs supporter dogs, I mean.  Not Spurs-supporter priests.

3.3: Spurs doormats and Spurs thermometers.  Like a lot of the stuff in these pictures, I only noticed the Spurs thermometers now.

3.4: Spurs tea towels and Spurs trays.

4.1: Spurs fridge magnet pens.

4.2: Spurs jelly babies and Spurs “snowies”.  (Learn more about snowies here.)

4.3: Spurs white teddy bears.

4.4: Spurs flipflops.

5.1: Spurs footballs.  So Spurs supporters actually play this game?

5.2: Spurs scarves.

5.3: Spurs sterling silver earrings.

5.4: Spurs iPhone cases.

Out in the open, there were also Spurs cranes, although there was no price tag on any of them:

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No, not really.  Not Spurs cranes for sale, just Spurs cranes working away on constructing the new Spurs stadium.

Wednesday January 04 2017

I’ve spent my day pondering my talk on Friday evening, so here, it’s quota photo time, four of them, taken last October:

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What we are looking at is the building activity now happening between Waterloo Station and the river, photoed from the Waterloo Station side.

I fear that this buildings are going to have looked prettier when being built than when built.

Hope I’m wrong.

Friday December 30 2016

Indeed.  But they weren’t so particular about where they dumped their rubbish:

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Photoed by me on Christmas Day.

Busy day preparing to entertain.  Busy evening entertaining.  Tomorrow: another busy day entertaining.

Sunday December 25 2016

Last night, I promised I’d keep an eye and a camera open for Merry Christmas signage during my walking about today, and I did, but I didn’t find any such signs.  But I did find another sort of sign, which I liked because it contained lots of London’s Big Things, and I photoed it.  And then, when I got back home after dining out with my mates, I discovered that it had the words “Merry Christmas” at the top of it.  How about that?!?:

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Here is the website of this enterprise.  I have a vague recollection of having gone inside this place, once upon a time.  It was, of course, shut today.

I am collecting these graphic renditions of London’s Big things.  You see them everywhere, if you look, frequently on the sides of white vans.

Merry Christmas.  As in, I hope you had a good Christmas Day, and are having a good Christmas break because it almost Boxing Day now.

I like the roof clutter reflected in the window.

LATER: More Merry Christmas designage (dezeenage) here

Thursday December 15 2016

Indeed.  I have the rest of today set aside for other things, maybe even including a little more tidying up, which I have been neglecting of late, but need to get a lot of done by the end of the year.

So here is a particularly diverting white van:

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My rule for paying attention to things is to pay attention to things that intrigue me, without necessarily knowing why these things intrigue me.  So it has been with white vans.  Partly it is because they are politically symbolic.  But partly it is because, actually, white vans span the entire social spectrum, in the atmospheres they radiate.  There are as many different ways to make a white van look as there are ways to wear your clothes.

Wednesday December 14 2016

The light on the way to Pimlico Tube was remarkable.  Seven Sisters was an amusing puzzle.  The Railwa was called that because it had been closed.

And the light at White Hart Lane Station was also at its brightest and best:

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But nothing prepared me for what I saw a few minutes later, after I had descended from the station into the street:

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Amazing.  He looks like an angel magically deposited upon to earth.  I got two shots of this guy before he moved and became unangelic in an instant.  I couldn’t decide which of these I preferred, so here is the other one:

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The key fact of these photos was that the light was not ubiquitous.  It was concentrated in a quite narrow searchlight beam.  And below we see how that happened.  We have White Hart Lane Station to thank:

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I took that photo before I photoed the angel-worker, and before I had any idea of what effects it might create.

I grumble from time to time, to myself, and here too, that I typically find it hard to take photos that communicate the sheer intensity of the lighting effects that my mere eyes sometimes see.

No grumbles this time.

Tuesday December 13 2016

Last Thursday I managed to insert myself into a gathering of GodDaughter 1 and her close family, in honour of her birthday.  So it was GD1’s Mum and Dad and Elder Sister, and me.  We met up on the South Bank, and wandered along it, to see an art exhibition, and also a jewellery show, hosted by this enterprise, at the bottom of the Oxo Tower, which GD1’s Sister had helped to set up.  GD1’s Sister has herself become a jewellery maker, and apparently a rather promising one.

None of GD1’s Sister’s products were on show, alas.  But I was as interested to see what the general atmosphere and attitude was, of this quite large number of jewellery makers, each with a small clutch of Little Things for us to examine.  I know nothing of this world.  What sort of world is it?

The main thing to say is that the value of what all these makers are making is not based on the price of the materials they are using.  This is not precious metal jewellery, the real purpose of which is to navigate through financial crises.  The value of these Little Things lies in the inventive way that often quite modest materials are put together.

I was curious to see if there’d be any 3D printing involved.  Sure enough, one of these jewellers (Lynne Maclachlan (I love how my photos remembered her name for me, with no need for any other sort of note-taking)) is doing this:

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On the left, the little collection of Lynne Maclachlan’s wares that was on show.  On the right, GD1 handles one of Ms Maclachlan’s products.

Does my picture, and the way GD1’s fingers look, make that bracelet look very light?  I hope so, because it is very light.  Which is an important consideration with jewellery, if you want to make it other than tiny.  You don’t want your ears, fingers, wrists, or neck, weighed down with things that feel more like you’ve been enslaved rather than decorated.  And 3D printing can accomplish this, by making a structure that is still structurally solid, but both less bulky and more fun to look at than a solid lump.

I have long wondered about 3D printed jewellery, but there is only so much you can learn from googling.  Seeing these Little Things in their proper habitat, in their appropriate commercial context, tells you a lot more.  That Lynne Maclachlan has been welcomed into the sisterhood (it is mostly sisters) of jewellery makers rather than seen as any sort of threat, is, I think, very telling.

Saturday December 10 2016

Yes, The Railwa.  I had continued my odyssey from Seven Sisters on the regular railway, to White Hart Lane Station.  And from the platform, and then when I got outside, this was what I saw.  The Railwa:

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As you can see from the picture on the right, The Railwa used to be The Railway Tavern.

The y Tavern bit has disappeared because this is one of the many, many British pubs that has recently been shut down.

The other night they had a telly show about this, but it seems that it’s not all doom.  Pubs are being shut by Big Booze, and often then turned into blocks of posh flats, which are more lucrative.  But, some of the pubs are being saved, and taken over by The Community.  Accompanying this is the rise of “craft beer” (I at first misheard this as “crap beer"), which seems to be a mixture of regular beer and fruit juice, and as such, sounds right up my street.  When it comes to drink, I am a girl.  My alcoholic drink, on those rarish times when I am in a pub, is: lager and lime.  So it’s all going my way, apart from if I go to one of these new pubs and find it full of The Community.

To be a bit more serious, what I think I see happening here is that the old Working Class, the sort that used to smoke, and watch football teams while standing up and wearing cloth caps is ceasing to exist and what remains of it is being kicked out of the pubs by the new Working Class, the sort that doesn’t smoke, and designs websites and manages brands and works in call centres and which spent this weekend at the Robert Rauschenberg exhibition at Tate Modern.  The fate of the Railwa is what happens when an industry goes through a transformation of this sort.  Many of the old institutions collapse and get trashed, like the Railwa, by the look of it.  Others get transformed in accordance with the new dispensation, as perhaps the Railwa will be.

Monday December 05 2016

On my way to Tottenham, a week ago today, my first stop was Seven Sisters on the Victoria Line, where I changed to the regular railway in order to travel onwards:

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But who, I wondered while I waited for my next train, were those Seven Sisters?  I made a note to self – written only on my brain cells, but it worked nevertheless – to search out the answer.  Which is easy these days.

Here it is:

The name is derived from seven elms which were planted in a circle with a walnut tree at their centre on an area of common land known as Page Green.  The clump was known as the Seven Sisters by 1732.

In his early seventeenth-century work, Brief Description of Tottenham, local vicar and historian William Bedwell singled out the walnut tree for particular mention. He wrote of it as a local ‘arboreal wonder’ which ‘flourished without growing bigger’. He described it as popularly associated with the burning of an unknown Protestant.  There is also speculation that the tree was ancient, possibly going back as far as Roman times, perhaps standing in a sacred grove or pagan place of worship

The location of the seven trees can be tracked through a series of maps from 1619 on.  From 1619 they are shown in a position which today corresponds with the western tip of Page Green at the junction of Broad Lane and the High Road.  With urbanisation radically changing the area, the ‘Seven Sisters’ had been replanted by 1876, still on Page Green, but further to the east.  Contemporary maps show them remaining in this new location until 1955.

So: trees.  I was hoping for actual sisters.

Friday December 02 2016

Friday is the day here for cats and other creatures, so here, among other things, is a panda:

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What this photo illustrates is the perennial problem of trying to chuck stuff out, which is that all too often, stuff is just too nice to chuck out.

I recall, a year or two after the Berlin Wall was dismantled, meeting an Eastern European lady, who complained about how the packages and pots and bottles in which produce was suddenly now sold was too good to chuck out.  Bloody capitalism.  Capitalist rubbish was better than what they had previously had as actual stuff.

In a modified form, I now suffer from this syndrome.  It has crept up on me more gradually, but throughout my lifetime, packaging has been getting ever better, probably because it is the sort of industry that politicians disapprove of, and have hence left to its own devices, an industry’s own devices invariably being better than any device devised by politicians.  The packaging industry, not having been “helped”, has thrived.

Beer bottles (the one in the picture still has beer in it so that will be consumed first), I have learned not to miss.  But even they are sometimes so artfully designed that it seems wrong to throw them away.

The coffee jar I will keep, because coffee jars are so structurally impressive.

But that panda has got to go.

Sunday November 27 2016

Or maybe it has been invented and the answer is it’s called lots of little flat screen televisions.

This thought was provoked by seeing this picture, at Mick Hartley‘s:

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There’s nothing wrong with this Big Thing that painting it entertainingly wouldn’t put right, in fact very right indeed.  It could become a well-loved landmark, if only it was spruced up a bit, with some bright colours.  This Big Thing is called the Edificio Torres Blancas, and it is in Madrid.  In Spain they like bright colours, right?

But, what bright colours?  The answer is to copy what they now do in Trafalgar Square, with that Fourth Plinth.  In Trafalgar Square, they have solved the problem of what to put on the Fourth Plinth by keeping on changing it.  That way, everyone gets to like some of the objects they put on the Plinth, and that way everyone who dislikes what is there now can comfort themselves with the thought that it will soon be gone.  All can photo the ones they like and ignore the rest.  Eventually, a winner may be declared.  Eventually, a thing will be put there that seems to right, to so many people, that it will be decided to keep that thing there for ever.

That’s what they should do with the colouring of the above Big Thing in Madrid.

So, techies, get to work.  What we need is a new sort of paint that you just slap on, but whose colours, down to the minutest detail, can then be controlled by a big old computer at ground level.

Or, this is already possible, as the advertisers are now proving with their changeable screens, and all that it missing is that this is, for a mere building, as opposed to a commercially profitable message, for the time being, too expensive.

Also, maybe the architect is still alive and vetoing any such notions, insisting that his masterpiece remain blancas, or failing that then at least grey all over.  Time will soon correct this sorry state of affairs, if state of affairs it be.