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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: Friends

Wednesday May 01 2019

And this blog stops now.

Not before time.  For many years it has been too slow, too clunky and just too all round ridiculous.  More recently, and longer ago than I care to think about, (my management of) the comment system went to hell, as I’m sure you noticed.

So, time for a new blog, and here it is.  As of now, all new personal blogging by me goes there, and quite a lot of the old personal blogging done by me here has also started going there too, so that if I want to link back to it, nobody has to endure coming back to here.

I’ve hardly mentioned this new blog here, until now.  A new blog is not something you want to be promising endlessly, before it finally gets going, far later than you had been promising.  You just need to get it ready, taking as long as that takes, and then launch it, and then tell people about it, just as I’m telling you now.

Not that the new blog has been perfected before its launch.  It has merely been - please allow me this neologistical verb – adequated.  Many tweaks and improvements, both in working and in appearance, will surely follow, especially given that my good friend Michael Jennings set up the new blog for me, and will surely continue to take – not a “proprietorial” (that would be me), but you know what I mean – interest in its workings.  My thanks to him, in advance for any future help and for all the work he’s already done.

My thanks to Patrick Crozier who started this blog up for me, many years ago when it wasn’t ridiculous, and to The Guru (he knows who he is) for all the help he has given me over the years, keeping this blog afloat when it would otherwise have sunk without trace.

So, goodbye, hello and welcome.

Monday April 29 2019

Earlier today, Patrick Crozier and I recorded another of our recorded conversations (by and by it will appear here).  Patrick laid out the agenda which was Christianity, and how, although he could never believe in it, henevertheless regrets the diminution of its influence on our world.

He mentioned the way the Western Roman Empire fell apart after it had been conquered by Christianity (echoing Gibbon, although I didn’t say that; he mentioned ecclesiastical architecture; he mentioned the intimate relationship between Christianity and secular power; and at one point we rather digressed, into the matter of French domestic architecture.

Here are four photos I photoed in Quimper, Brittany, exactly one year ago to the day, which illustrate these various talking points:

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Photo 1.1 a history lesson inside Qumper Cathedral which covers the ground Patrick alluded to about the Roman Empire (protected by glass, hence the reflection of the stained glass window)..  Photo 1.2 is a view of one of the towers of Quimper Cathedral, as seen from the other tower.  Photo 2.1 is of an equestrian statue, from the same spot.  And finally, 2.2, also from the same spot, is a photo looking out over the city of Quimper.

The weather could have been a lot brighter, but you are only allowed to the top of Quimper Cathedral on the one day each year, and April 29th 2018 was the day that it was

I will greatly miss Quimper and its Cathedral, now that my friends in France no longer live there.  I won’t be going back on my own, just to see it but not them.

Saturday April 27 2019

Yes, I like to photo signposts.  You know where you are, with signposts.  Because they pretty much tell you where you are.

Here’s a signpost photo I photoed in March 2012:

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But there’s more to it than just having a note of where I was, useful though that is.  There’s something about actually seeing those particular names of particular places which makes the fact that this is where I really am – and then later: was - come particularly alive.

As you can tell from the previous paragraph, I don’t really know how to explain this fascination of mine.  And just now, I am too knackered, having spent the day recovering from a Last Friday of the Month meeting that happened last night.  Dominique Lazanski: very good.  My front room: very full.  Aftermath: lots of crap to tidy up.

Yesterday was a day when I had to be very energetic and alive, to get ready for that meeting.  So, I was.  (Hence those four blog postings yesterday.) Today, I could be knackered.  So, I was.

Friday April 26 2019

One of the first things I did in France, after I got off the plane and had been driven by my hosts to their home, was to meet up with Oscar again.  Remember Oscar?  Oscar is the cat, who got lost and found, partly thanks to the photos I took of him, but mostly because of GodDaughter2’s social media expertise.  She located him, in France, while not even being in France.

Here is one of the first photos I photoed of Oscar this time around:

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I like that photo because it looks like we’re are looking at each other horizontally, but are actually …:

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… looking at each other vertically, him upwards and me photoing downwards.  Those being my feet, at the bottom there.  On the right, the light of the south of France on the floor of the balcony outside the bedroom I was in.

The earlier photos I linked back to were taken in their Brittany home, but now my friends are more permanently in Thuir, way down south, near Perpignan.  Oscar doesn’t like car journeys (stuck in a small prison hardly bigger than he is), but he has no objections to actually being in a different house.  Somewhere new to explore.

Tuesday April 23 2019

In the part of France where GodDaughter2’s family live and with whom I recently stayed, there are two ways to make a car journey.  You can take what looks like the long route, along two or even three sides of a motorway rectangle, only travelling on little roads when you have to, to get to and from the motorway.  Or, you can attempt to travel more directly, along little roads, by the scenic route.  The scenic route looks quicker on the map, at first glance.  But the motorways are quicker because they always go straight where they’re going.  They don’t wiggle back and forth up and down mountains, or get stuck in little villages.

I was taken on various car journeys during my stay, of both kinds.  The trips involving airports were on motorways, as were others.  But there were also various journeys along those scenic routes.

Here are a few of the many, many photos I took while on such expeditions: 

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The thing is, France is (see above) big.

On one of these expeditions we drove for about four hours, hither and thither, up and down, through kilometre upon kilometre of gorgeous scenery, encountering about three other oncoming vehicles per hour. We crossed over numerous bridges as we switched from going down or up one side of a valley to going up or down the other side of the same valley, often able to see past nearby trees to distant mountains, but often not, passing through and sometimes stopping in towns or villages with orange tiled roofs.

Countryside in England of this desirability, in weather like this, would be swarming with motorists, all making it impossible for each other to have a good time.  In the south of France, where this sort of weather is only average (too cold and windy) and where they have endless supplies of such scenery, we had the entire route pretty much to ourselves.

Also, in England, if you were to drive for half a day at the slowish but steady speed we were able to drive scenically in France, you’d take a visible bite into the map of England.  In France, such a trip doesn’t register, nationally speaking.  You’ve gone from this little place here, to this next little place right next to the first place, here, two milimetres away.  As an exercise in crossing France, forget it.  You have made no progress at all.

It’s not just places like America, Africa and India that are big.  Compared to England, France is big too.

Friday April 12 2019

Jamie Hannah is a friend of GodDaughter2, as a result of him having spent a year at the Royal College of Music, going from being a good countertenor to a rather better countertenor.  But now he’s giving the pop star thing a go.  Judging by his latest video, I reckon the plan just might work.

I’ve heard Jamie Hannah in action twice before, once live and once in the form of a recording.  In terms of performing savvy and persistence and general attitude; he seemed to be going about it the right way, but the actual sounds he was making didn’t sound to me that distinctive.  Any friend of GodDaughter2 is a friend of mine.  But not having anything sufficiently positive to say about Jamie’s work, I kept quiet about it here.

As you can see, that has now changed:  If this new video is anything to go by, Jamie is now making much more use his strength; which is his very distinctive countertenor voice.

And, although I know nothing of the technicalities of such things; the production side - the sheer sound of the musical backing and the general ambience - sounds to me like it has taken a big step in the right direction.  Whatever he is now doing, I hope Jamie Hannah keeps at it.

Judging by a lot of the comments at YouTube, it would appear that a certain Boy George feels similarly.

Tuesday April 09 2019

I see this building every time I step outside Highbury and Islington tube station:

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I wondered whether such a photo was worth showing here at all; but a friend saw it and liked it, so there it is.

Life for me just now is complicated, There may be quite a few brief and rather perfunctory postings like this in the next few days.

Tuesday March 19 2019

A friend has put this photo that he photoed on Facebook:

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If he objects to me using it, I’ll take it down, but I doubt he will.

It illustrates two things.

(1) The arrival of a new kind of skyscraper, the Very Thin Big Thing.

(2) How much less of a nuisance trees are, photographically speaking, when not smothered in stupid leaves.  As it is, that photo is a fine addition to the Winter Tree With Big Thing Behind It photo-genre, which is a photo-genre I like a lot.  With leaves, it would be significantly duller.

Here is a Guardian piece which explains why these Big Thin Things are now happening in New York.  I now intend, although I promise nothing, to do a Samizdata piece in which I expand upon this circumstance.  Clue: the provisional title of this piece is “Law and liberty in New York”.  The point being that clear law says exactly what you may not do, but by so doing, it also says exactly - exactly - what you may do.  Unlike in Britain with its insane “planning permission” system, where you just have to hope that some random assemblage of local tyrants doesn’t take against the plan you’ve been working on for months, and where there’s now no way beforehand of guessing what these tyrants will decide.  In New York, if you follow the rules, you know you are allowed to build it.  Result: well, New York.

Tuesday March 05 2019

Today a friend needed some rather dramatic medical attention, and I dropped by to provide what I hope was a little moral support.  Outside the place where this was happening, I encountered this cute little vehicle:

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Two interesting things about this little gizmo.  First, there is the way that its door opens.  The door on its right is open, in the above photos.  Useful in a tight space, I should guess.

And second is what it does, there being a website on it which enables you to learn about this.  It takes tissue or samples from sick people to a lab, where the lab decides its opinion about the nature of that sickness.

I like these little cars, which are so small they are almost motor bikes.  I certainly prefer them to those huge Chelsea Tractors, which look like they’re for doing bank robbery getaways or off-roading or maybe both at once.  Which, let’s face it, most Londoners do neither of, ever.

Friday March 01 2019

The summer of February 2019 has now ended, but I still have some photo-memories of it to stick up here.

These photos, for instance, of a man whom GodDaughter2 and I encountered in Hyde Park, back on February 15th.  As I have already related, there was a lot of feeding of birds going on that day, but before all that bird frenzy, we had already encountered a guy who had taken the feeding of birds (and squirrels) to a whole new level.  He wasn’t so much feeding these creatures as laying on a free canteen for them.  And they obviously knew this, and greeted him like a long lost friend.

I photoed him and his friends (who included two green parrots), a lot:

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You can see evolution taking a distinct turn towards something different, can’t you?  The most trusting and friendly and fearless creatures are the ones who get best fed.

Wednesday February 27 2019

Patrick Crozier and I have just fixed our next podcast, which we will record early next week.  Read about and listen to earlier ones here, and in due course this next one will go there too.  And for this next one, we will talk about … Brexit.  I knew you’d be excited.

Many claim that they are bored by Brexit, and maybe many are.  Although I suspect some are really just pissed off with not getting exactly what they want.  (And who is getting exactly what they want?) Either that, or actually only bored with other people’s opinions, but not with their own.  Me, I find the whole process rather fascinating, now that I have got over having been so wrong about it.  I thought that Brexit would lose the Referendum, but it won.  And I thought that once it had won, it would happen without too much fuss, because the Conservative Party leavers would mostly bow to the inevitable.  As of now, that hasn’t happened, and doesn’t look like it will happen any time soon.

Brexit is a subject that Patrick has strong opinions about, which is good because although this will not stop me interrupting (I’m afraid I always interrupt), it may at least mean that some of the times when I do interrupt, he’ll interrupt back and shut me up until he’s finished the point he was making before I interrupted.

Here is a Brexit photo I recently photoed, of a bus driving around and around Parliament Square, saying Believe in Britain and LEAVE MEANS LEAVE, but with nobody in the bus apart from the driver:

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They all left, I guess.

Monday February 04 2019

Last night I dined at Chateau Samizdata, which is in the Fulham Road.  I always get there early, but like to be exactly on time in order not to disrupt the preparations.  So, I typically walk about a bit, looking for photo-ops.

Last night I walked east along the Fulham Road towards the centre of London, and came upon Michelin House, which I knew was somewhere around there, but had never clocked before as being so very near to Chateau Samizdata.  This building occurs at the point where the Fulham Road is turning into Brompton Road.

It has a wonderfully eccentric stained glass window, at the front, at the top ...:

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… which had been thoughtfully lit from behind.

I image-googled this building, and I could not find this particular view of it.  There are one or two views to be seen of this window from inside the building, but none that home in on the window, in the dark, from the outside, with that all-important internal lighting.

I think that this window deserves to be viewable in as many ways as possible, from inside, and from outside.  As does the whole building.

I considered cropping my photo, but the photo exactly as taken supplies just that little bit of architectural context, so I left it as was.

Sunday January 27 2019

There was a meeting in my home last Friday, at which Simon Gibbs spoke, most eloquently and engagingly, about “What Libertarian Home Has Done Right”.  (I made him choose this title.  He is far too modest to have chosen it himself.)

Also on Friday, at this blog, I had already featured a cat photo, taken by my friend Dominique Lazanski.

What I had not expected was that Dominique Lazanski would get a mention in Simon’s talk, but she did.  Very favourably, as a Libertarian Home speaker who did much to soften the atmosphere of a series of meetings that might otherwise have remained rather beery and blokey and not sufficiently female friendly or, to use a word Simon likes a lot and which he himself epitomises, not “kind”.  Libertarianism is, after all, all about making the world better, which definitely includes kinder.

I had been intending to put up more than one Dominique photo on Friday, but meeting preparations meant that only the cat made it, that day.  Here are all the other photos I had already liked and set aside for here, along with a photo of a cup of coffee, which I added to the collection to get the number back to a convenient one:

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Click and enjoy.  Most of these little squares are mere excerpts from the originals, so you will have to click to enjoy.  But even if that doesn’t appeal, the basic point here is that Dominique Lazanski is, like many others these days, someone who combines taking very good photos with having a very full life doing other things besides taking photos.

This is the big photography story these days.  This big story is not how good the very best photographers, the Real Photographers as I refer to them here, are at taking photos and how very, very good their very best photos are.  No.  The big photography story these days is how good people like Dominique Lazanski are at taking photos.

To find out more of who Dominique Lazanski is, go to her website, or to here Twitter feed.  To explore all her Instagrammed photos, go here, that being where I encountered all of the above photos myself.

I chose my favourites, partly by particularly noticing the last two and the most recent of the above photos when they showed up on Facebook.  In addition to being a Dominique Lazanski friend I am a Dominique Lazanski “friend” on Facebook.  And the rest I found by simply clicking through all of her Instagrammed photos very fast, and noticing which ones I found myself pausing at.

Those drinks are included because I drank one of them myself, on Christmas Eve.

It could be that I am mishandling the Social Media, again, and spilling beans that are not mine to spill.  If Dominique finds out about this posting and informs me that she regrets it and would prefer to be living in a world which did not contain it, then this posting will be expunged forthwith.

Friday January 25 2019

Yes, a rather excellent James Bond villain cat, photoed in London’s Columbia Road, in the Bethnal Green part of town:

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Found in the Instagram feed (click on that for her most recently instagrammed photo) of this lady friend.

Columbia road is, as other photos in this set make clear, noted for its flower market.

Tuesday January 01 2019

Happy New Year to all my readers.  Every time I go out to a party, I encounter people who read this thing, despite all its technical stupidities and despite the fact that the subject matter is just me musing aloud.  So good morning to you all and I hope that not only I, but also you, have a good 2019.  (Yes, I’m managing to keep up, approximately speaking, there also, where my musings are more structured and disciplined.)

This being Jan 1st, I offer you a sunrise:

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Usually when the sky is that colour in my photos, it’s a sunset.  But it all came back to me when I chanced upon these photos, of an expedition to Alicante.  Basically, I visit all the bits of France and Spain that my ex-Quimper friends have or have had bits of property in.  And they had a place in Alicante, or they rented it, or something.  Maybe they still have it.  So, I went to Alicante, in January 2010.  And, the above photo was taken by me at a bus stop in Vauxhall Bridge Road, looking back across Vauxhall Bridge, while waiting for a bus to take me and all my holiday clobber in the opposite direction along Vauxhall Bridge Road to Victoria Station, where I eventually caught a bus to the airport.  With much confusion, as I recall it, about exactly where the damn bus departed from.  Had I not happened upon another traveller who knew, I might have missed that airplane.

All of which clarifies a fact that has for me become more and more clear over the years, that although blogs are not diaries, photo-archives are.  I have photoed many photos which I would not even consider sticking up here.  But they have all piled up on my hard disc.  I live, you might say, a double life.  There’s my, you know, life.  And then there’s my photoed life, which I can relive any time I want, and see all my friends and relatives and remember all the private things we said and did, the way you people very rarely get even to hear about, never mind learn the private details of.

This blog, meanwhile, is a severely edited subsection of my diary, with some added words, added in a way that I hope doesn’t make me appear too ridiculous.  Very different.

To add some words to the above photo, I realise that in addition to loving roof clutter, I am also becoming ever more fond of street clutter, which, due to the anarchic and non-mutually-communicating nature of London’s public sector, London possesses an abundance of.  Much of it is, like most modern roof clutter, severely utilitarian, which I like, because nobody is trying to make it look pretty.  But much ground clutter is very beautiful, especially London’s more showy street lamps.

Love the new keyboard.  So solid and strong.  Happiness is being able to check all the letters and symbols on your keyboard, as you type.