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Category archive: Cranes

Thursday February 08 2018

The view from on top of my block of flats is jot quite high enough to be really great, like, say, the view from the top of the Tate Modern Extension.  Plus, there is the great lump that is Hide Tower, right outside my front window, which blocks off a huge chunk of London.

But if the light is playing games, things can get entertaining.  While grubbling back in the archives looking for a shot, from my roof, of the now deceased New Scotland Yard building just off Victoria Street, I came across this shot, taken just under two years ago, looking from my roof along Chapter Street, towards Battersea Power Station:

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Cranes, roof clutter, vapour trails.  Lovely.

I find that I can best photo a sunset, not by photoing the sunset itself, but by photoing it with and behind buildings, and showing what it can do to buildings.  In the right light, the most commonplace of buildings can be transformed into something far less commonplace.

Sunday January 28 2018

This is the last of my postings about my walkabouts beyond Lower Marsh on Jan 5th and on Jan 18th, the three photos below having been taken on Jan 18th.

Just as on Jan 5th, the light was extraordinary.  On Jan 5th, it was, for me, at its most extraordinary on Blackfriars Road, and then at Victoria Station (see the posting immediate below this one).  On Jan 18th, at the same time of the day, it was at its most extraordinary when I was on Blackfriars road bridge, which is what Blackfriars Road turns into when it crosses the river.  Blackfriars Bridge being the one next to the Blackfriars railway station bridge, as you can very clearly see here:

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What we see there is the now nearly horizontal sunlight bashing in under the clouds overhead and picking out the bridge.  Very dramatic.  And just as on Jan 5th, the light was particularly good at picking out something painted red.  On Jan 5th, it was a crane, the very same crane that we see in the above photo, in the distance, in front of 240 Blackfriars.  On Jan 18th, it was Blackfriars road bridge itself.

The above photo captured the drama that I saw at the time.  The next photo, taken moments before the one above, isn’t so dramatic.  It felt very dramatic, but my photo captures little of the drama that I saw.  The light that illluminated that scaffolding in the middle looked amazing.  But I now have to point it out to you:

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So, why this photo?  Well, for my purposes, it does have one great merit, which is that it shows that the street lights, on the right of the road bridge as we look along it, were not switched on.  Yet moments later, these lights were “switched on”, by the sun, just as similarly un-electrified lights in Victoria Station had been lit up by the sun on Jan 5th:

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Behind these lights are the lower floors of One Blackfriars, now nearing completion.

Thursday January 25 2018

All this stressing about having to have a new blog is, well, stressful.  So, thank goodness for all the lovely photos I took that day.  They have been a great comfort.  I have nearly finished bragging about them, but not quite.

This is one is one of my particular favourites from that day:

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Remember I said that Windows Photo Viewer is turning everything a bit yellow?  Well yes, it is, although a more accurate description would be: cream.  And the odd thing is that the above photo actually looks prettier to me in its creamy manifestation than it does here, as taken.  But, I still like it a lot.  I suppose I could squirt some cream into it with my photoshopclone, but I don’t hold with that sort of thing, which has created another barrier, which is that I don’t know how to do that.

Once more, we see:  trees without leaves, and behind them cranes, and behind them, the top of 240 Blackfriars.  We are looking along Lower Marsh in a north-easterly direction, towards 240 Blackfriars, and behind that, the City of London and its bigger Big Things.

Monday January 22 2018

On the fifth and eighteenth days of this month I was in Lower Marsh, which is just south of Waterloo Station, as I often am.  On each of these days, there was bright sunshine, and cloud.

On each day, after I had done my business in Lower Marsh and continued on to Blackfriars Road, and to its two newly constructed edifices: One Blackfriars (the curvey one) and 240 Blackfriars (the “crystaline” one).

The first of these photos, !.1, shows One, and One reflected in 240:

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I love a good crane, and 1.2 is rather remarkable, because it shows (a) two construction cranes, (b) these cranes reflected in 240 Blackfriars, and (c) on the surface of that same building and above the reflections of the cranes, the shadows of those same cranes.  If you click on nothing else, click on that.

Photo 1.3 tells us where we are, and shows One of that road scraping the sky,

In 2.1, 2.3 and 3.3, we see another joy of winter, trees without leaves.

The final photo of this little set, 3.3, shows the tower of a crane with some of those trees, and is included because the colours are what you would expect with regular lighting.

Ah, but what if the lighting is irregular?  What if there is bright sunlight hitting a crane tower, but with dark cloud instead of blue sky behind it?  3.2 is what then happens.  Worth another click, I’d say.

And 3.1 shows clouds of a very different sort, again reflected in 240 Blackriars.  Also pretty dramatic.

1.1 to 2.1 taken on the fifth.  2.3 to 3.3 on the eighteenth.

What, no photos of photoers?  Was I the only one photoing?  Could nobody else see the epic dramas of light and dark, construction and reflection, scaffolding and skeletal trees, that I was seeing?  Apparently not.

On the fifth, soon after I had taken the first four of the above photos, my fellow photoers had been all over the man with the flaming tuba.

Photography is light.  But I guess for most photoers, mere light, bouncing off of dreary things like modern buildings, cranes, trees, scaffolding and the like, is not enough.

Wednesday January 03 2018

Over at Dezeen, they’ve got a posting about the growth of the City of London Skyscraper Cluster, which describes that process by showing how it is reckoned it will look in 2026.

And they reckon it will look like this:

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From other angles, though, it can look more like it’s three clusters.

To give you more of an idea how the architecture of the City is changing, here is a photo I took in May of this year:

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Here is the bit from another of the dezeen clutch of fake-photos, fake-taken from pretty much the same angle (although from a bit nearer than mine), which lets you see what they are busy building now:

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And here, by way of a bonus, and mostly because I Just Like It, is a photo I took of the same cluster but from the other side, last November:

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That photo was taken from a big patch of grass in the Bethnal Green area called Weavers Fields.

That link points out the Huguenot connection with Weavers Fields.  Blog and learn.  (My mother’s maiden name was Bosanquet.  Her Bosanquet ancestor was one of those Huguenots, who arrived here from France following The Revocation of the Edict of Nantes.  (For cricket fans: another Bosanquet, who is a distant cousin of mine.  (But I digress.)))

Monday December 18 2017

A mixed day.  In the morning, Australia won the Ashes back.  And in the evening, when I got back from a photo-expedition, I found water trickling down the wall of my kitchen, the wall in question being the one behind me in the picture at the top of this blog, a wall filled with CDs, a quite large number of which had their documentation soaked.  It could have been a hell of a lot worse, but it wasn’t at all good.  I have just spent most of the evening trying to sort that out, but probably not accomplishing much.  Many pages of musical info will be stuck together irrevocably.  Bugger.

But in between those two disasters, the photo-expedition was pretty good.  I will surely show more of its results here Real Soon Now.  For the moment, following an evening spent fretting about those CDs, here is just one such result:

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I tend not to like sunsets, by which I mean that I tend not to like the photos I take of sunsets.  But if there are cranes involved, that’s a different story.  Also, for the cricket, a sunset is all too appropriate.

Sunday December 03 2017

I knew this would happen.  Ever since I noticed those leaning tower cranes of London, which looked like they might be about to collapse through the unbalanced weight at the top of them, I knew that as I wandered through my photo-archives I’d find more such pairs of leaning tower cranes, leaning in opposite directions to each other, and looking like they should have collapsed and caused a flurry of shocked news reports, but which never actually did that.

And I just did:

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Taken from the top of the Monument, on the same day as the photo below of the Walkie-Talkie.

At the time, all I thought I was photoing was a nice sunset and some nice cranes, posing nicely in front of The Wheel.  But those two cranes on the right there seem to be in that same state of strong disagreement about what exactly vertical is, and for the same reason.

Yet, if either of those cranes had collapsed, late on in the year 2012, I am sure that we would have heard about it, and that I would have remembered it.  Clearly, they did not collapse.  They were just leaning over a bit.

All those cranes that we see were working on, among other buildings, two rather striking buildings that are now finished.  I’m talking about the two stumps now blocking the view of the Shell Building.  There is, on the right, in between the two leaning cranes discussed above, 240 Blackfriars.  And to the left of 240 Blackfriars, as we look, the innards of the Tate Modern Extension, from which further lovely views out over lovely London were to materialise.

Saturday December 02 2017

Indeed.  I was going through the I Just Like It file, and came across two, independently selected, which make a nice pair.

First, taken in November 2012, the Walkie-Talkie while still under construction, viewed from the top of the Monument:

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And second, taken in January 2016, the Monument now just about visible in the scrimmage of smaller London

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The Walkie-Talkie looks very big from the top of the Monument.

The Monument looks very small from the top of the Walkie-Talkie.

And while we’re about it, here is another photo that links these two buildings.  Taken on that same day in November 2012, back on the ground, with a little sign on the right there, saying “Pudding Lane”. 

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The Monument remembers those who died in the Great Fire of London of 1666.  Pudding Lane, or so I was always told, was where that fire started.

Also, three days after taking that photo of the Monument from above, above, I took this photo of the Monument from below, along with another sign, this time a temporary sign telling me how to get to the Monument:

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The way to get to the Monument was not, it would seem, the obvious way to get to the Monument.

Wednesday November 29 2017

Yes, those horses brought it all back.  My journey out to exotic Tilbury, and its cranes, in the late September of 2013, and then walking along the north bank of the Thames Estuary towards the even mightier cranes of London Gateway.

As often happens on these expeditions, one of the most interesting things I encountered that day was right at the start of my wanderings, in little old Tilbury itself, on a footbridge, over the railway, before I had even got to the Estuary.

When I arrived at Tilbury, I could already see that there were cranes, and that there was a footbridge joining the platforms.  In order to photo the former, I ascended the latter, and got photos like this:

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Then I had a wander around Tilbury, and photoed weird stuff like this:

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That antenna looks like part of an insect, doesn’t it?  Well, I told you I occasionally like to attempt wildlife photography.

And then I decided that I needed to make use of another footbridge, a little further along the railway line, to get me onto the Estuary side of the line, so that I could get stuck into the real business of the day.

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It doesn’t look much, does it?  Just a footbridge.

But then, it started to look a bit interesting:  What are those faces, over on the other side there, not on the bridge itself, but on the approach to it, on the other side?  Graffiti, by the look of things.  But what sort of graffiti?

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I walked up the ramp onto the bridge, and on the actual bridge bit of the bridge, there was indeed graffiti.  Plenty of it.  But not graffiti that was in any way out of the ordinary.  It was the usual sort of graffiti, graffiti that says: We own this place, hee hee hee.  At night anway, when normal people are asleep and not looking.  Graffiti that says: You don’t know what this means, hee hee hee.  Graffiti that says, to me anyway: Yes, my life is going to be a pathetic failure, but it’s going to be the fault of the world and how horrible it’s been to me, rather than being in any way my pathetic fault, boo hoo hoo.  I grow increasingly irritated by this kind of stuff, which of course is one of its purposes, to irritate old geezers like me:

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Besides which, there are probably art galleries queueing up to get this guy to do his boring stuff indoors, to epater the bourgeousie in the approved art gallery manner and get a write-up in the Guardian.  So maybe this gink will make something of himself after all.  Maybe he already has.  Maybe his day job is doing the accounts for the Tilbury Town Council.

Whatever, so far so boring.

But then, something interesting started happening.  The Gink, or someone, had decided to insert a different psychological attitude into what was going on.  And the Gink, either because he personally wanted to or because someone else had taken him to one side and sat him down, and told him to change his tune, switched from the usual graffitied bafflingness to something clearer, and with a very different psychological vibe to it.  The Metacontext, as Samizdata’s Perry de Havilland would put it, suddenly changed.

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What is this?  Making things happen?  Hard work?  Persistence?  Success??? My God, someone has told the Gink that he is, just maybe, the boss of his own life, and that if he tries a bit harder, and takes responsibility for the outcomes of his own actions – in general, if he starts to think a bit differently - he just might truly amount to something.  It’s not definite.  That kind of thing never is, but if you give up and blame everyone else for your failures, failure is definite.

Was that the explanation for what happened next, or did what happen next actually get done first?  I don’t know.  But whatever the story, the story now changed.  On the approach ramp on the other side of the bridge, those faces.  Recognisable faces.  Next to readable messages.  In English.  There are details that tell not-an-art-expert me, so make of this what you will, that that this is the same guy, with the same paintbrushes and spray cans.  The medium is the same.  But the message has suddenly become something else entirely.  The grafitti suddenly becomes of something, in a way that even an old geezer like me can set about understanding.  My shoes are no longer being pissed on by a human animal, albeit one who is clever with a paint brush.  Instead, a truly human human being is communicating with me, in languages that are clearly intended for me to understand:

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The first face there, on the left, is Frank Sinatra.

Here are all the others:

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Names, with a link to the complete song lyric: Vera Lynn, Elvis Presley, Little Richard, Aretha Franklin, Amy Winehouse, Tinchy Stryder, John Lennon, Adam Ant, Madonna, and Peter Kay.

It’s a quirky list, with strange inclusions and inevitable exclusions (Bowie? Stones? Jackson?).  Peter Kay, who merely mimed along to a song sung by someone else, is extremely lucky to make the cut.  But I reckon that’s all part of the fun.

Not all of the above photos are very good.  Some had to be rescued from the general scene and widened, and in one case (Amy Winehouse) made bigger.  Also, shame about the big W on Tinchy’s face.  But, you get the pictures.

If you google “tilbury grafitti” you discover quite a lot.  Apparently a bit upstream from where I went there is a big long slice of graffiti (scroll down until you get to “London’s mega-port” and “The Tilbury graffiti wall” - both well worth reading and following links from), crammed with popular art references, on the estuary wall.  It’s like: someone has a policy, or at the very least an attitude.  You can’t eliminate graffiti, but you can maybe get it to say something a bit less suicidal and doomed.

It isn’t clear yet what effect London Gateway and its nearly thirty massive cranes and its huge “logistics park” is going to have on other big English container ports, like Felixstowe and Southampton.  But one thing is clear.  Little old Tilbury dock, just upstream, may dribble on for a few years, but it is not going to get any bigger.  My guess is it will soon close.  Tilburians are going to have to find other things to do with their lives.  As Lord Tebbit once put it, they are going to have to get one their bikes.  Maybe not as far as to Amarillo, but at least mentally speaking.  What my visit to Tilbury and my subsequent and more recent Tilbury googlings tell me is that at least some people in Tilbury, including some people with enough clout to decide what gets painted on a footbridge, realise all this.

Yes I know, maybe I’m reading altogether too much into a few dawbs on a footbridge.  But, maybe: not.  I definitely intend returning to Tilbury.

Friday November 17 2017

Indeed:

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Tilbury, September 2013.  That’s what a BMdotcom wildlife photo should be.  Creatures, yes, but also cranes.

At around that time, I made a series of trips out to London Gateway, London’s new container port, which is just downstream from Tilbury.  Here‘s a recent report of how London Gateway is doing, which also has further news about animals in the area:

The £1.5bn construction saw a staggering 350,000 animals moved off site into new habitats. At one stage DP World’s office building on the site homed tanks of great crested newts before they were moved into newly created ponds.

However, the horses in the above photo were not disturbed, because they were just outside Tilbury.  London Gateway is further down river.  It was only several hours later that day that I set eyes on those cranes, from a great distance. Despite the gloomy weather, it was a great day.  The photos bring it all back.

Saturday October 28 2017

Recently I went out looking for another good shot of Richard Seifert’s One Kemble Street, of which I am very fond, having already posted some fun photos of it as seen from the ROH Bar and two more rather so-so photos of it, along with a photo of another circular Seifert edifice, also with an anarchic hairdo.

But here is a better photo of One Kemble Street, that I took over a year ago, from the top of the Tate Modern Extension:

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The thing is, when I’m out on one of my photo-wanders, the pattern is: Photo, forget.  Photo, forget.  Photo, forget.  I hardly think at all about what I have just photoed.  Almost all my thinking concerns the next photo.

When, usually about one day later, I look back at what I got, even then I don’t pay attention to anything like everything I got.  Just some of it.  Which means that when I look back at some directory or other a longish time later, I notice more photos, basically for the first time since just before I took them.

It’s tempting to assume that this is the result of me getting old.  But I suspect that if I had had a digital camera when I was thirty, I would probably have forgotten most of the photos I took then, much as I do now.  But, I do think that age probably reinforces this effect.

Tuesday October 24 2017

I have photoed this cluster a lot in recent weeks, and why not?  It’s one of the most dramatic crane clusters London has ever seen.  But most of my photos of it have fallen rather flat, metaphorically speaking.  On the whole, I have failed to capture the feeling of hubbub, of a lively cluster, of a cluster of things that are getting “up close and personal” as the modern phrase has it.  But this photo, which I did late last Sunday afternoon, does communicate something of the excitement I get when I actually see this crane cluster:

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I think the sky helps.  In fact I know it does.  The photo was taken from the downstream of the two Hungerfood Bridge footbridges.

When the cranes have done their work it won’t look nearly as dramatic.

Thursday October 19 2017

Last Sunday, I photoed those wonky looking cranes.  I also took this photo:

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That’s not at all what I think, but lots of people do think that those City of London Big Things are indeed follies.  Follies being a show that the National Theatre, that concrete thing on the right, was advertising when I walked past it.

I find the Big Things of the City hard to keep track of, given that I do try.  Let’s have a closer look at those vertical concrete lumps, that look they will turn into something very big:

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There you go.  Once you have a name like that, the gates of the Internet open.

So, what’s the City of London about to look like next?  The most useful answer I got was this:

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That being the picture at the top of a Londonist posting from last July.

Quote:

Based on the visuals, these projects are a mixed bag of ho-hum and coo-wow. Taken together, they make for a crowded cluster that’ll almost entirely obscure the much-loved Gherkin building, once so dominant on the skyline.

A particularly coo-wow part of the story being the Scalpel.  See above.

The rather ungainly 22 Bishopsgate, which is going up where the Helter Skelter would have gone until the financing for it collapsed, is going to be the tallest Big Thing in London, for a short while, just until that big boxy tower ("1 Undershaft") with the diagonals on it goes even higher.

22 Bishopsgate will have a free viewing platform, according to this report from two years ago:

At the top of the building will be a double-height public viewing gallery, which will have dedicated lifts, be free to the public and sit alongside a two-storey public restaurant and bar.

I can’t wait, as people say when they’re just going to have to wait and are actually quite capable of waiting, in a state of impeccable mental equanimity.

This is the kind of building of which it will be said: The view from 22 Bishopsgate is magnificent.  From 22 Bishopsgate, you will not see 22 Bishopsgate.  They used to say this about the National Theatre.

I sseem to recall taking some closer-up photos of all this activity a few months back.  I must take another look at those.  And … I just did.  June 3rd, earlier this year.

I particularly like this one:

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Very stylish.

Tuesday October 17 2017

I love cranes, especially those big tower cranes they use to build Big Things.  So tall. But so thin.  But they do trouble me.  How do they stay up?  Why don’t they ever fall over?  Well, they do, sometimes.  But mostly they don’t.

And, as I couldn’t help noticing when I was out and about last Sunday, these tower cranes often lean over, in a way that looks like it is asking for headline-making trouble.

Consider one of these cranes, the one on the right, that’s leaning over, about four degree off of the vertical.  How does that not fall over?  (Thank you vertical lamp post for telling us what vertical is.)

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Well, I’m guessing these people know what they’re doing.  No, scrub that, I’d be amazed if they didn’t know what they’re doing.  This kind of thing just has to be business as usual, no matter how crazy it may look to mere passers-by.  As I discovered when I went looking for other leaning cranes in my photo-archives, and I found one that I had photoed just an hour earlier, on the same walkabout:

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I think we may assume that the BT Tower is the very definition of vertical.

In each case, the crane is bent backwards by the big concrete blocks that compensate them for the lifting job they do with the other end of their tops.  But when no lifting is happening, the compensating weight has no weight to compensate … it.  And the result can look very scary.

No London cranes have been reported collapsing during the last few days.  So, like I say, no problem.

Tuesday October 10 2017

Today was mostly a dull day, unsuited to photoing, by me at any rate.  But late in the afternoon, I realised I needed to get out there to purchase a new SD card reader, what with the existing one having become too undependable.  I could usually get it working, eventually, but who needs that?  I needed a card reader that didn’t need any juggling and wiggling and mucking about with, but just worked first time.  And now I have it.  I also took a detour to Sloane Square to meet up with a friend, before journeying to Curry’sPCWorldCarphoneWarehouse in Tottenham Court Road.

Equally good, the late in the afternoon today turned out to be very photogenic.  The light was beautiful.  Always it’s the light.  The sky was in that cold clear state where every vapour trail hangs about, and it looked like someone had been scribbling on it with a big box of white chalks of different sizes.

I took photos, of course, and here are a few of the ones I liked best.  The first three were on the way to Sloane Square.  The last one, the sunset, was taken outside Warren Street tube.

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Not much happens in the sky in 1.2, but I like it anyway.  There’s something about those little ladders that you see on roofs.  I see that, in the case of this particular ladder, there are birds that agree with me about this.

AndI love that fake building in 2.1, on the outside of the real building that I think they’re refurbishing or rebuilding or cleaning something, just off Sloane Square.

What makes the sunset worthy of inclusion is the low cloud that joins in, making it look like something’s on fire.  Plus, there are cranes.

All the photos I took transferred themselves to my mainframe, first time, clean as a whistle.  No juggling or wiggling.  Just plug in the reader. Shove in the card.  Done.

And earlier in the day I got some other stuff done too.  A good day.