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Category archive: London

Monday May 25 2015

Am I going to have to stop denouncing test matches that clash with the IPL?  The IPL didn’t seem to have a lot of close finishes this time around.  (Yesterday’s final was over long before it was over, if you get my meaning.) And now, both England and New Zealand have all their top players playing test cricket, in England, in May.  And playing it really well.  NZ, a far better team now than they were only a few years back, got over 500 in their first innings and a serious first innings lead.  But yesterday Cook batted all day, and Stokes scored a century that absolutely did not take all day.

What struck me, watching Stokes on the C5 highlights yesterday evening, was how sweetly his off-drives were struck.  He is no mere slogger, although he definitely can slog.  Thanks to Stokes, England can now, on the final day, win.

Stokes hitting two blistering scores at number six (he also got 92 in the first innings), and Root not wasting any time at number five, means that Pietersen can now kiss his test career a final goodbye.  Had the England batting failed in this mini-series against NZ, and above all had it failed slowly, the cries for Pietersen to come in and beef it up and speed it up would have grown in volume.  As it was, the slow guys at the top failed (Lyth and Ballance both twice over), apart from Cook yesterday, while the quick batters got on with it.  This leaves no place for Pietersen.  Bell?  A decent innings in the next game will end any moans about him.

Meanwhile, this test match, as of today, is a real cracker.  And today is one of those great test days in London where they cut the prices for the last day and Lord’s suddenly fills up with people like me.  Not actually me, today.  But I thought about it.  And if I thought about actually going, it can’t be that I think the game is meaningless.  Score one for the Old Farts who think that the IPL is just a faraway T20 slog of which we know little.

This game began with England being 30 for 4.  Now NZ are 12 for 3, “chasing” (the inverted commas there meaning: forget about it) 345.  Broad, a bowler who, in between match winning performances, looks like a bit of a waste of space, has two wickets already.  Plus, Taylor, whom Broad has just got out, was dropped off him in the previous over, and that now gets mentally chalked up by both sides as further evidence that another wicket is liable to fall at any moment.

Earlier in the week Paul Collingwood of Durham was talking up Stokes, also of Durham.  He can bat, said Collingwood, which he could say with confidence after Stokes made his first innings 92.  Stokes can also bowl, said Collingwood and should do so earlier than he has tended to so far in his test career.  He is not just a filler in, said Collingwood.  Well, now, with the score a mere 16 for 3, Stokes is bowling.

At lunch, NZ 21 for 3.

LATER: And just when I thought KP was forgotten, there was Boycott on the radio talking him up, as a replacement for the as-of-now non-firing Ian Bell.  So if England get hammered in the first two Ashes tests, with Bell getting four more blobs or near blobs ...  Maybe KP ...  I just added a question mark to my title.

Sunday May 24 2015

Indeed.  Both of them were photographed by me, in central London, yesterday afternoon.

The first was very striking mainly because of its colour, or the colour it was showing to me.  Very pretty in pink:

image

Seriously, I found this bus very eye-catching.  You don’t expect to see a London double decker decked out in that colour.

It was selling ice lollies.

The second strange bus was this:

image

Something to do with Bayern Munich, as you can see.  I stood as far away from this bus as I could, but the pavement was just not deep enough.  But, you get the picture.

When I got home, I quickly found that the website shown there gets you to some sort of Bayern Munich fan club.  Dittelbrunn is a place just north of Schweinfurt.

But why “Gulp”?  Was “Gulp ‘82” some kind of tournament they won, in 1982?  I asked the internet what gulp means in German, but sadly, all the internet wanted to tell me was the German for gulp.  Anyone?

Saturday May 23 2015

Until very recently, Centre Point, the Big Thing at the corner of Tottenham Court Road and Oxford Street, used to look like this, and quite soon, it will presumably look very much like that again.  Just rather cleaner.

But, for the time being, Centre Point is looking like this:

image

I like that.  It was taken about an hour after I took these.  I like it because I just like it, and because blue sky!  And because cranes!

The crane is there because at the bottom of Centre Point there is a frenzy of Cross Rail and London Underground station building activity.

Thursday May 21 2015

After an hour in the first test against New Zealand, England are now 30 for 4.  This is exactly the sort of start the England bosses did not want, because it will amplify the clamour for the return of Kevin Petersen.

Quoth Cricinfo:

Here’s Ed: “Oh dear, an inevitably miserable summer for English cricket has now commenced ... and can already hear the plaintive cries of ‘KP, blah blah, must bring KP back ... blah, blah ... it’s SCANDALOUS, KP, blah blah, he’s box-office, you know ...’”

Well, you can see which side “Ed” is on.  As for me, well, I want cricket to be entertaining and diverting.  Whatever England do or do not manage this summer, first against New Zealand, and then against Australia, it will certainly be entertaining and diverting.  If England win, hurrah!  If they lose, then there will be all the “KP, blah blah” that Ed refers to.  Sport is, among other things, soap opera, and it promises to be hugely soapy and operatic this summer, because England now look like doing very badly.

My main opinion about English cricket just now is, as it has long been, that the people running it seem to imagine that the I(ndian) P(remier) L(eague), now nearing its climax for this year, is “just another T20 slogfest”, when in truth it is the Indian T20 slogfest, which means that you can earn more money playing in it than in the rest of your year as a cricketer.  Something like that anyway.  It’s a lot of money, especially if you are really good at it.  And money talks.  Money says that the world’s best players now all want to play in the IPL, and that they will not want to play stupid test matches in England against England.

I will never forget the first day of a recent England/WI series, in England, in mid-may, when Gayle scored a terrific century.  But, not a terrific century for the West Indies against England, a terrific century for the Royal Challengers Bangalore.  I also distinctly remember blogging about this at the time, on the day, but cannot find anything by me about this.

Yes I can.  Here:

I remember very little about that meaningless test series in England, but I do remember that on the first day of it, Chris Gayle scored a brilliant century. I watched this brilliant century on my television. But Gayle did not score this brilliant century for the West Indies, against England. He scored it for the Bangalore Royal Challengers.

You would think that the ECB would have got the message. How soon before cricket fandom everywhere just hoots with derision at these “test matches” in the sodden and frigid English spring? Such tests test nobody except the out-of-their depth second-stringers sucked into them. With the star players of the touring side missing, these tests mean very little. Sport is all about meaning. Drain the meaning from a game, and the thing is dead in the water. Literally in the water, if you are playing in England, in May, and you don’t get lucky.

So, memory does not deceive.

Well, it would seem that England still have the trick of enticing the best New Zealanders to come and play test matches in England, in mid-May.  That is, the NZ cricket bosses are still able to insist that their IPL-ers come to England, in the nick of time.  But this still isn’t satisfactory.  I will be interested to see, when I watch the highlights of day one this evening on the telly, how big the crowd is.

England, at lunch, are now somewhat less soapy and less operatic 113 for 4, after the beginnings of a decent stand between Root and Stokes.  But still very iffy.

Here is a picture I took in 2005 of Kevin Pietersen and Shane Warne, which I spotted at Waterloo Station in June of that year (it’s not one of those pictures):

image

Having had lunch, England are now 182 for 4, and the big stand by Root and Stokes is getting bigger and bigger.  Stokes is really stepping on it.  Hurrah!  If England end up with a decent score, the KP clamour will fade.

And, happy coincidence, my other team, Surrey, are also right now enjoying a century stand for the fifth wicket, this time by Sanga and Roy.  Roy is really stepping on it.

Happy days.

MOMENTS LATER: Stokes out, Sanga out, withing seconds of each other.  Not so happy.

Wednesday May 20 2015

Another 20th of the month another evening at Christian Michel’s, and another walk from Earls Court tube to his place in the Cromwell Road.  It’s a quite short walk, but long enough for me to take photos.  Photography is light, and there was a lot of light, pouring down from the sun, uninterrupted by clouds:

image imageimage image

These snaps look pretty average in the above small size, but if you click on them, they get bigger and better.

The tree and its shadow I saw from within Earls Court tube, in a street not on the regular route, but I just had to immortalise it, and that got me looking for other things to photo.  I include the very thin buildings, top right, because I like such thin buildings of this sort.  I include the chimney with the satellite receivers, bottom right, because I especially like how light falls at an angle on bricks.  And I like the blue sky, bottom left, which illustrates that the way to persuade a digital camera to make a sky really blue is to stick a very brightly lit building next to it.  In the thin buildings picture there is quite a lot of darkness, which is why the sky came out not so blue.  Ditto the chimney, again rather dark.

See also, between me and the very blue sky, bottom left: wires!  But these are not the regular and invisible sort of street wires.  These are wires that you are supposed to see, because they were put there deliberately, to look good by lighting up in the dark.

Here is a cropped detail of a photo I took on Monday, of a rather strange hair style:

image

The internet knows everything, but my image-googling skills are not good enough for me to learn what is going on here.  I have seen this kind of style before, so this is no mere individual eccentricity.  There is a group of guys who all style their hair like this.  But who are they?  What else, if anything, to they believe in, besides believing in having their hair done in this strange way?  Anyone?

Monday May 18 2015

Photographer on the upstream Hungerford Footbridge, me not on any Hungerford Footbridge:

image

Photographer on the downstream Hungerford Footbridge, me on the same Hungerford Footbridge:

image

Me on the downstream Hungerford Footbridge, photographer not on any Hungerford Footbridge:

image

The first picture is the most visually dramatic, but the third is the most mysterious.

Deck chairs on a deck makes sense, but why is there a pretend lawn on the deck?  And why did the man need to be in the middle of the pretend lawn to take his photos?

I do not know.

Sunday May 17 2015

A while back, I showed you this photo, and mentioned how a sight like that often gets me going, photographically speaking.  That one certainly got me going that day.

Here is one of the more fun snaps I then took, of a hair drying machine that looks like an alien robot about to crush your head with a pair of cymbals, ...:

image

... or perhaps it is about to hug you.  You decide.

And here, taken only moments later, is a picture of a celebrity (the sort of celebrity that nobody has heard of) being papparized by a bunch of big-arse paps in big-arse trousers, outside what I assume is some kind of club, just off of Seven Dials.

image

When you get into that state of photographic ecstasy, that’s the kind of thing that seems to present itself to you.

Who knows?  Maybe the cymbal playing alien robot had just been drying Madam Celeb’s hair.  It does have some rather artful curls in it, that have the look of having been done to her, so to speak.

Nothing wrong with her arse.

Saturday May 16 2015

One of my happier fancies here at this blog has been a category of photos called: I just like it!  And I just like this:

image

The point being that the sort of things that I write about here, and investigate, and then photograph very purposefully and self-consciously, often begin just as things that I like.  When I trawl through the photo-archives, I find things that I thought I only started noticing quite recently cropping up casually, years back.

So, what do I like about the above picture?  It certainly isn’t how well those leaves have come out.  (Although in my opinion out-of-control light in a photo at least tells you that it was very sunny.) Do I think the RSC is GENIUS?  Only a bit.  No, I think what I like is the way that the advert is about as pompous as it is possible for an advert to be, yet life goes on right next to it and indifferent to it.  Or maybe not.  Maybe something else completely.

It’s the top of one of those open top double-decker buses, by the way.  And below that, the advert is for a show called Matilda.

Thursday May 14 2015

Incoming from 6k, to whom thanks:

Busy in the lab, but thought you might appreciate this …:

image

… from here.

It’s old, but maybe interesting.

That’s London, of course, and I cropped the original graphic somewhat, concentrating on the top right hand corner.

Presumably the red bits are where the tourists go.  And the blue bits are where the locals are to be found.  But how exactly was this graphic concocted?  Is it a map of flickr activity?  (Should there be a “digital photographers” category below?) And what are the yellow bits?

Colour me purple.  I live here, and I’m a tourist.

Wednesday May 13 2015

Today was the second consecutive day of fabulous weather in London, which meant I was out and about for the second day running (having been out and about on Sunday also), and when I got home I was well (C21 for extremely, or so I assume) knackered.  There were also other dramas happening throughout this time to be attended to, which I will perhaps mention in some future posting.  In the meantime, you’ll have to make do with this picture, taken by me late this afternoon:

image

That’s a conventional enough shot of the Shard, taken from Blackfriars road bridge, over Blackfriars railway (and railway station) bridge.  You can see the ziggy zaggy roof of the railway station there.  But, instead of photoing the Shard, I shifted a bit to the right, to take in Guy’s Hospital tower and part of the Tate Modern tower, and to omit the Shard.

I love it when the sun lights up a building and turns the sky behind it bizarrely dark.  Even Guy’s Hospital tower looks good in light like that.  It looks here like you could melt it down and end the financial crisis at a stroke.  Well, the financial crisis of whoever did the melting.

I’ll try to do better tomorrow.  Or, then again, maybe I won’t.  I promise nothing.

Tuesday May 12 2015

Photoed by me a few days ago, in the Houses of Parliament area:

image

Like so many photographers these days, this lady is using a smartphone, and like so many smartphone users, she has a smartphone in a pretty case.  I try to collect these, photographically I mean.

I like how I manoevred my way around this lady to make her face unrecognisable - at least, I hope, to a face recognition system.  And I like how she’s wearing a pair of spectacles, by which I mean two pairs of spectacles.  (A pair of pair of spectacles doesn’t sound right at all.)

But now, I want to ask about another pair that this lady is wearing.  What I want to know is, what are those rubbery things on her hands?  Are they something to stop her thumbs moving too much?  That there are an exactly matching pair of these devices says to me a condition, rather than a pair of coincidentally matching injuries.  But what might that condition be?  Something like arthritis?  Or am I way off with this guess?  Anyone?

I only saw these rather strange manual additions when I looked later at the picture.  As so often, my camera sees more than I do.

Sunday May 10 2015

Indeed:

image

It’s the BT Tower, reflected in that big shiny building known catchily as 250 Euston Road, photoed last Friday, from outside Warren Street tube station.  Who says modern architecture is faceless?

I say it looks like an ancient carved god, but I can’t find, on the internet, any image that confirms this similarity which I know that I see, or remember.  Anyone?  The last time I said that, yesterday, in the previous posting here, I got the answer straight away.

Saturday May 09 2015

Spent day doing other things, so quota photo time, but from the archives:

image

Taken in June 2005.  I don’t understand mobile phones, but presumably things have changed since the above arrangements were advertised.

But how about that war that either Britain, or Europe, had with France?  I don’t remember that.  Seriously, I wonder what on earth that was about.

Thursday May 07 2015

Following on from yesterday’s ruminations, in among lots of stuff that doesn’t fascinate me, including one posting about shit, is a report about Paris’ tallest building in over 40 years.

Presumably “Paris” doesn’t include La Défense, which is out on the edge of Paris.  Those Big Things are very big indeed.  What they’re talking about here is building Big Things in the centre of Paris. 

And the thing is, this Thing not very tall at all:

image

In London, this sort of thing would hardly be noticed.

But the fact that this new Thing is not that big is deliberate.

“This project is not a high-rise, but embodies a shift in attitude, and this gradual increase marks a willingness to reconsider the potential of height and will change the city landscape little by little,” said the architects.

They know that if they are to get any new truly Big Things anywhere near the centre of Paris, the first step is to make some things that are not Big, but just a tiny bit bigger.  First you get the opposition to concede the principle, with something that doesn’t arouse huge opposition.  Then you gradually increase the heights, until finally you get your Big Things, and the opposition unites too late.  And by then it’s too small, because lots of people actually like the new Big Things.  This is how politics is done.  And this is politics.

The last, and so far only new and truly Big Thing anywhere near the middle of Paris (other than the Eiffel Tower) is the Montparnasse Tower, which was completed in 1973.  Compared to almost everything else in central Paris, before or since, the Montparnasse Tower is very tall indeed.  It aroused a lot of opposition by embodying such an abrupt, even contemptuous, change of Paris skyscraper policy, and judging by what happened for the next forty years, that opposition was very successful.  This time around, those who want Big Parisian Things are going about it more carefully, as the above quote shows.

Speaking of politics, who is that geezer in the picture, in the picture?  A politician, I’ll bet.