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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: London

Saturday November 17 2018

Very busy today.  Knackered.  Doing what?  Too knackered to explain.

Quota crane, from two different directions:

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Photoed by me in Lower Marsh, just over a week ago.  That’s if for today.

No, that’s not it for today.  Here is yet another view of the same crane:

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Shame the view behind couldn’t be more interesting.  Go a few yards further along Lower Marsh, and you get to stuff like this:

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More cranes there.

Now I’m even more knackered.

Friday November 16 2018

Time for some more horizontality:

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Click on that to get the 1000x750 original bigger picture, which I found here.

Notice the title of the posting.  Hartley really is fascinated by colour, whether present, as here (in the sky), or absent, as is the case for the black and white birds here.

Interesting that stripping out the context, which makes it that bit clearer that these are birds, makes these birds that little bit harder to see clearly, as birds.

Sunday November 11 2018

Yesterday, I went on a shopping expedition which involved boarding a train at Charing Cross, which I planned to reach by going first to St James’s Park tube.

The first of the photos below (1.1) is of a taxi, parked close to where I live, with some sort of poppy related advert on it.  I like to photo taxis covered in adverts.  Temporariness, the passing London scene, will get more interesting as the years pass, blah blah.

Then, in Strutton Ground, just this side of Victoria Street, I encountered two besuited gentlemen wearing military berets and medals.  I photoed them both, with their permission, and I post one of these photos here (1.2), also with their permission.  Sadly, the other photo didn’t come out properly.

It was only at this point that I realised that, the following day (i.e. today) being Remembrance Sunday and what’s more the exact one hundredth anniversary of the Armistice of November 1918, London in the Westminster Abbey area would already be awash with Remembrance Sunday photo-ops.  My shopping could wait a while, and I turned right down Victoria Street.

The seven other photos below mostly involve small wooden crosses and dead autumn leaves - autumn 2018 arrived at Peak Dead Leaf yesterday - but they also include another poppy related advert, this time on a the side of a bus (3.3), which I photoed in Parliament Square:

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Sadly, the plasticated documents referring to “British Nuclear Test Veterans” (2.1) were insufficiently plasticated to resist the effects of the rain.  It began to rain some more when I was arriving at Charing Cross station and it did not stop for several hours, so I’m guessing these lists suffered further rain damage.  It’s odd how little sadnesses like this stick in your mind, in amongst the bigger sadnesses being remembered.

The autumn-leaves-among-crosses photos, all taken outside Westminster Abbey, are but a few of a million such that must have been taken over this weekend, in London and in many other places.  Is it proper to include two mere advert photos, even if they are poppy related adverts, in such poetically symbolic and dignified company?  I chose to do this because one of the things I find most interesting about these Remembrance remembrances is that, as each year of them passes, they don’t seem to be getting any smaller.  People still want remember all this stuff, even though all the veterans of World War 1 are now gone.  Hence the adverts.  If the adverts didn’t get results, they’d not be worth their cost.

As to why these remembrances continue to be remembered, and by such huge numbers of people, year after year, I think one reason is that each political tribe and faction can each put their own spin on the sad events being remembered, but in the privacy of their own minds.  For some political partisans, these ceremonies and symbols are a chance to wallow in the pageantry of patriotism.  For others, they are an opportunity to rebuke such nationalists, for stirring up the kinds of hostility that might provoke a repeat of the sad events being remembered.  “Patriotism” and “nationalism” being the words used to salute, or to denounce, the exact same sentiments.  But declaring red poppies to be a warning that the defence budget should be increased, or that they are anti-Trump and anti-Brexit symbols that Trump supporters and Brexiteers have no right to wear, would be too vulgar and partisan, so on the whole this kind of vulgarity and partisanship is not indulged in, not out loud.

The phenomenon of the political meeting where all present hear the same words but where each understands them to mean different things – I’m thinking of such words as “Britain”, “freedom”, “democracy” and “common sense” – has long fascinated me.  Remembrance ceremonies remind me, on a larger scale, of such meetings.  I attended many such little political meetings myself before I decided that mainstream politics was not for me, and switched to libertarianism, where meanings are spelt out and arguments are had rather than avoided.

For less obsessively political people, Remembrance ceremonies and symbols are simply an opportunity to reflect on the sadness of history in general, and in particular the sadness of the premature deaths of beloved ancestors – or, perhaps worse – hardly known-about ancestors.  We can at least all agree that premature death, in whatever circumstances, is a sad thing to contemplate.  And until young men entirely cease from dying in wars, Remembrance Sunday will continue to be, among other things, a meaningfully up-to-date event.

And so, year after year, these ceremonies continue.  Will this year’s anniversary come to be regarded as Peak Remembrance?  We shall see.

Saturday November 10 2018

Here are two photos that go nicely together.

First there is this photo:

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Not the greatest shard photo ever taken, although a bit better of Guy’s Hospital, next to it.  That is because it’s maximum zoom.

But now, taken with minimum zoom, with me standing in the exact same spot, pointing my camera in the exact same direction:

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You can actually see the Shard in the faraway background.

I bought the Lumix SZ150, then the Lumix SZ200, and now my current SZ300, because these cameras all have in common that they have both quite impressive zoom for very distant scenes, and an quite impressive wide angle coverage on close-up scenes.  Both features help a lot with architecture.

These two photos taken at the beginning of last month, at East India DLR station, on my way home from a photo-expedition.

Friday November 09 2018

Friday used to be my day here for “Cats” and then I expanded it also to “Other creatures”.  I hadn’t thought of anything creaturely to blog about, and hoped that when I went out walking today, I might encounter something appropriate.  I didn’t have to wait long.  Within yards of my home, I encountered these creatures:

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Police horses and their riders are often to be seen in the SW1 part of London, presumably just getting exercise in between riot situations.

Coincidentally, I recently had a discussion with someone on the subject of what work horses still do, following their replacement as transport by trains and cars and the like, and as warriors by such things as tanks.  Well, they still entertain us, by racing against one another, and by acting the parts of real transport horses or real war horses in historical dramas, mostly on the screen, but occasionally live.

But apart from that?  The only thing we could think of was assisting the police by participating in riot control.  I surmise that horses are called upon to do this because they combine being very scary to humans on foot, with their scary hooves with metal shoes on, with also being so very cute.  That way, rioters are dissuaded from trying to hurt such horses.  If rioters do actually hurt any horses, they incur the wrath of the general public in a way that rioters do not when they merely attack human riot police.  Horses combine being very formidable riot opponents with the fact that their presence at riots is very clearly not being their fault.  In a way, they are merely victims of such riots, victimised by the demands placed upon them.  We sympathise with them already, just because they have to attend riots.  If the rioters attack them, we sympathise even more.  Our sympathy may be excessive, but we feel it.  This places rioters in an impossible bind.  They like to think of themselves as heroes.  But heroes don’t torment horses.  Only villains do that.

Are there any other ways that horses make themselves useful to humans?  Perhaps my problem is that I am urban.  Out there in the country, in spots where vehicles still have problems, there must be such uses.  Transport in hilly or mountainous country?  Oh yes, cowboy horses, herding cows!  Silly me.  I can’t think of any more just now, but I bet if I continue to imagine the non-city parts of the world, more horse jobs will pop into my head, the way that cow-herding just did.

Fox hunting doesn’t count.  That used to be a real thing, when there were no other ways to combat foxes.  But now, fox hunting is just country folk having historical-re-enactment fun.

Wednesday November 07 2018

One from the I Just Like It directory:

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That’s the view you get of Central Hall Westminster, that you now get looking over where New Scotland Yard used to be.  I walk past this view whenever I go to St James’s Park tube.  Well, that’s the view you get if you go to as much trouble as I did to frame Central Hall Westminster with a concrete pump.

There is now a glut of new luxury apartments in London, so I suppose it’s possible that this view may become a bit less temporary than it would have been two or three years ago.  But my guess is that Ten Broadway, which (from a helicopter) will look very approximately like this…:

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…, is now too far advanced for it to make sense for them not to finish it.  Although maybe not as ostentatiously as that picture suggests.

Monday November 05 2018

Incoming from Darren:

Took this photo a couple of weeks ago and couldn’t help think of you. …:

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… I didn’t discover that the photoer had been caught in the picture until later. Taken from on a train while going through Blackfriars station. As you can probably tell, it was just taken using a phone.

I emailed Darren back, saying I’d feature his photo here.  He then said that I shouldn’t feel in any way obligated to do this.  He just thought I’d like the photo.

I thought about why I was so glad to receive this photo, and so keen to show it here, along with what he says about it.  I think the reason is that Darren clearly “gets”, as they say, this blog.  He gets that I am fond of the unfolding and ongoing drama of the architecture of central London.  He gets that I notice how others like to photo London, too, it’s not just me.  He gets that I am fond of the new Blackfriars railway station, straddling the river the way it does, and that I love the sort of views you can see and photo from it.  And, Darren gets that I am deeply impressed by the photographic prowess of mobile phones.

He even refers to his photographer as a “photoer”.  Until now, that was just me.

Saturday November 03 2018

I have just been contacted by Christian Michel for the title of my annual 6/20 talk at the beginning of next year.  I kept him waiting for a day, because I wanted to get this more right than I would have if I had just dashed off a reply in a few minutes.  But the job got done, as best I could manage.

Here it is: “The difficulty and the ease of the making of and the distribution of cultural objects: A history of human civilisation in three layers”.

Does that explain itself?  It doesn’t?  Maybe you should attempt to attend.  Maybe I’ll write it out beforehand, read it out on the night (that often works very well), and post it here.

Photoed by me, on the same day that I most recently photoed Bartok:

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As I get older, I find myself, every so often, getting crosser.  Not all the time, you understand, just in occasional eruptions.

But I am not cross about this photo.  That is exactly how it came out of the camera.  No cropping or Photoshop(clone)ing.  Just as was.  I love that light, as I have been saying here for about a week now.

I love that effect when the light is very strong and almost exactly in line with the wall but not quite, at a just sufficient angle to light it up, and at the slightest excuse cover it in big shadows. If it didn’t say: “City of Westminster”, you’d think you could be in the South of France or some such sunlit place.

More about the Compton Cross.

Wednesday October 31 2018

This is the third consecutive posting here based on photos I took, two days ago now, while walking from the Angel to Barbican tube.

The reason for the abundance of photos from that walk was the light.  It was a classic London early evening, when the sky above was getting grey and dull, but when there was a gap in the clouds out west, and the sunlight came crashing through that gap horizontally, light a searchlight, picking out random things that were sticking upwards, above the point at which old London stopped going upwards and only new London protrudes.  Not everything doing this got caught in the beam, just some things.  Behind them or next to them there would be objects entirely unlit and already fading fast into darkness.

Things like cranes:

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That’s a fairly conventional photo for me, because the darkening sky is the background, as it often is when I photo evening sunlight crashing into cranes.

But this next one, taken rather later as I neared the Barbican, seemed to me to be something else again:

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I have a kind of check list mentality when judging my own photos.  I have a list of things I like, and the more such things are happening in the photo, the higher the photo scores.  Cranes, tick, with the evening sun hitting them, tick.  Another is interesting architectural silhouettes.  Of such Big Things as the Gherkin, the Walkie Talkier, the Shard, and so on.  And although those Barbican towers are not the prettiest Things in London by a long way, their silhouettes are distinctive, because of that saw tooth effect you get at the sides.  I also like the understated roof clutter there.

Tuesday October 30 2018

A year ago I did a posting about Twentytwo Bishopsgate, which is about to be the tallest Big Thing in the City of London Big Thing Clump.  It featured this explanatory image of what was then about to happen to that Big City Clump:

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I’m not sure what the current status of “1 Undershaft” is just now, which is potentially the biggest Big City Thing of the lot.  I seem to recall reading that there were delays.  The internet now seems rather coy about this project.  22 Bishopsgate, however, is roaring upwards.

And no photo I have so far taken of 22 Bishopsgate illustrates the scale of this roar better than this one, which I took yesterday, when on my way from Angel to the City, which means that I was approaching the Big City Clump from a northerly direction:

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What we see there is what used to be one of the City’s biggest Big Things, the NatWest Tower, or “Tower 42” as they now want us to call it.  Behind it, dwarfing it, still not as big as it will be, is 22 Bishopsgate.

When I took this photo, such is my eyesight that I wasn’t sure if I was looking at the actual Tower 42, or a reflection of it in the glass surface of 22 Bishopsgate.  It just seemed too small to be the actual Big Thing itself.  But clearly, it is.

In the graphic above with all the names, Tower 42 is now so small and so antique that it doesn’t even get named.  It’s the dark one on the left, behind where it says “Mitsubishi Tower”.

Monday October 29 2018

Today, I was meeting a friend in the area of Angel tube, and then, because the weather was so good, I decided to walk a little, to the canal nearby, and then south, towards the City.  I took many photos.  But as often happens when I photo ordinary things but in better than ordinary light, one of the best photos I photoed was something of a surprise.  It happened right near the end.  It was getting dark before I reached the City, and a signpost sent me along that strange tunnel near Barbican tube, to Barbican tube.

This is the tunnel I’m talking about:

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I googled “Barbican tunnel” when I got home, and soon learned that this is apparently the Beech Street tunnel, although all it said on google maps was “B100”.  Earlier this year, there was a apparently some sort of light show on show in this tunnel.  But this evening what got my attention was the light at the end of the tunnel, which looked like this:

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The natural pink and yellow of the sunset is what makes this, but I also like the non-natural green of the traffic lights, and the green reflections in the tunnel roof, joining in with those green roofs beyond.

In the distance, a crane.  In London, cranes are hard to avoid.  Not that I’d want to.

Sunday October 28 2018

Recently I and Patrick Crozier visited the Grafton Arms.  I rather like this pub.  These guys also like this pub, because of the Goon Show.  Apparently the Goons wrote some of their scripts there, in an upstairs room.

A fact commemorated by this mirror behind the bar, which I only noticed on this visit:

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If you look carefully there, you can see me and my camera.  Well, it is a mirror.  I should have tried to include Patrick.

What took Patrick and me to the Grafton Arms was that we had just been doing one of our recorded conversations, and we needed refreshment.  Tune in to the latest one, by going here.

My favourite of these conversations so far has been the one we did about WW1, concerning which Patrick is something of an expert.  Our next, or so I hope, will be about transport, concerning which Patrick is also something of an expert.

Saturday October 27 2018

My meeting last night (Tom Burroughes talking about Brexit) went well.  I never feared that Tom’s talk wouldn’t be good.  I merely feared that a humiliatingly small number of people would show up to hear it, and the better his talk was, the more frustrating that would have been.  However, although a few who had said they’d try to come didn’t show, quite a few others who’d not said they were coming did show, and it all went fine.

Nine people doesn’t sound like much, but it’s enough to make for a very interesting conversation, so long as they are a good nine.  They were.

Nine comfy chairs and nine people is no coincidence.  This kind of thing has happened too often for it to be chance.  When there were fewer comfy chairs, there were, on the whole, that number few people.  Conclusion: if I would like more people to attend, I must increase the number of comfy chairs.  Up to twelve, which is towards the maximum number of people for good conversation, and the point at which it begins to turn into a “meeting”, in the wrong way.  With people who actually had interesting things to say instead sitting there in silence, feeling left out.

I am taking steps to accomplish this.

Thursday October 25 2018

Whenever I see a taxi with an interesting advert on it, I try to photo it.  To recycle what I said in this, there is something especially appealing about a large number of objects, all exactly the same shape, usually all decked out in the same bland colour, but each one instead decorated differently and very colourfully.

It would appear that I’m not the only one.  Further evidence that taxi adverts count for more, per square inch, than other adverts do, comes in the form of the meme war that this taxi and its advert is now provoking:

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The CEO of a plumbing firm has announced that his company will be paying a delivery driver to ride around London in a taxi emblazoned with the slogan ‘Bollocks to Brexit’.

Social media gobbled this up, of course, and the responses were not long in coming.  There was this:

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And then this:

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And there will surely be many more.  I hope I chance upon the original, and get a go at photoing it myself.

More taxis with regular adverts will definitely follow here, as soon as I get around to it.

LATER: And, as I should have mentioned sooner, my friend from way back, financial journo Tom Burroughes, is giving a talk this Friday,tomorrow evening, at my place, about Brexit and all that.  I anticipate a more subtle and more elevated discussion than the one on these taxis.