Brian Micklethwait's Blog
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Simon Gibbs on Wedding photography (6): The Wedding and the Reception
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- Steve Davies talk last night
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- the Norlonto Review is back!
- There are cranes and there are cranes
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- Spot the Samsung connection
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- Cassette iPhone photographer
- Wedding photography (6): The Wedding and the Reception
- Testing again
- BMdotCOM insult of the day
- Views from the Hackney Wick station footbridge
- BMdotCOM mixed metaphor of the day
- Wedding photography (5): Photography!
- Phablet news
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Category archive: Business
Here are two Samsung products. (Click on each to get each picture bigger.) And the question is, what is the connection between these two gadgets?:
Okay, no messing about, they are the same gadget, viewed from one side and then from the other.
Samsung has just officially announced its latest cameraphone running Android and it’s called the Galaxy S4 Zoom. It’s basically a hybrid between the Galaxy S4 mini and the Galaxy Camera, combining solid smartphone functionality with the versatility of a zoom lens and a proper flash.
An early commenter says that this thing is ugly. But function trumps beauty. Function creates beauty. If a thing works, it is experienced as a thing of beauty. To those who want exactly such a thing, this will be very beautiful. My guess is the commenter was hired by a grumblesome rival that wishes it were doing as well as Samsung is these days, but is not.
Yesterday I investigated another London Park, Victoria Park, out east. Again, too many trees, Big Things only occasionally and distantly visible in among trees.
But at the end of my explorations I found myself at Hackney Wick Overground station. Much better. As railway stations often are, this is a fine spot to photograph surrounding stuff and distant Big Things. And despite the already considerable elevation of the platforms, there was also a footbridge that was even higher than the platforms. Here are some snaps taken from that footbridge:
The white spikes (1.2, 2.1) are the Olympic Stadium, and the big red thing is the Big Red Olympic Thing.
At first I thought that picture 3.2 featured some sort of new bridge, but now I think it’s some sort of big shed, in its early stages.
LATER: No. The thing that looked like a shed being constructed is actually a shed being dismantled. It used to be a big white Olympic sport shed of some sort, and now it is being removed.
Further googling reveals that this used to be the basketball arena.
Commenter Jimmy Haigh (May 30, 3:05 PM), on this at Bishop Hill:
He’s trying to sit on the fence and eat it too.
He is talking about the revolting Tim Yeo, who either has, or has not, changed his mind about Global Warming, depending on who you read. But either way, he continues to make lots of money out of it.
No I haven’t forgotten about that wedding. There are quite a few more photos to show to the massed ranks of BrianMicklethwaitDotCom readers, this time of photographers:
Amateur and ubiquitous digital photography has transformed wedding photography utterly, but I don’t think it has yet seen off the professionals, provided they learn to keep up.
The fundamental difference between the amateurs and the pros, and I’m guessing this applies to many other things besides photography that I already know about in other parts of my brain, is that whereas amateurs hope they will get lucky with some of their efforts, but can’t guarantee it (especially, with photography, if the weather turns hostile), the pros know how to get good results every time, no matter what.
And even on a perfect day such as this one was, the pros still have an edge, because they are better at handling really bright light, just as they are better at making the best of insufficient light.
With wedding photography, the pros can also spend the time getting to know their customers, getting a feel for what kind of people they are, and in particular finding out which photos are going to be in the must-get-right category. What you pay for is the certainty (as near as is humanly possible) that a decent number of your wedding snaps will be really good.
And then the rest of us pile in with our amateur efforts, and maybe manage to add a few more snaps to the Greatest Snaps collection, even as that list will still be dominated by the pros. (I suppose one should add that amateurs are an invaluable back-up in the event that you get seriously unlucky with your pros, even if it’s only because the pros are good pros, but they got seriously unlucky for some appalling freak reason.)
All of which is a preamble to flagging up Mike & Heather, who were the pros on this particular occasion. You can surely tell from my snaps who Mike and Heather are. If you are in any doubt, they’re the two in, to name but one, the bottomest, rightest picture above.
As to the quality of the work Mike and Heather did, I can only guess and hope. Well, more like assume. But something else that I can be entirely sure that these two very nice people did definitely bring to this party was that they are very nice people, who fitted in well with the rest of us, and in my case, even gave me a few nice little tips. I recall a wedding where this did not happen. The pro photographer (there was only one) seemed to regard all of us amateurs as the enemy, and even the guests generally as hardly more than a necessary evil to be either ignored or else shooed out of the way at important photographic moments. You can see how a pro wedding photographer might come to feel this way, but even so, that’s not what you want, is it?
So, on with the wedding. I’ve done the weather. I’ve done signs. I’ve done weird technological things. Now for some preparations. The signs, the technological things and the preparations all having been snapped while I waited for things to get properly started.
The good thing about signs, technological things and preparations is that they stay still, and are hence rather easier for a photo-dumbo like me to photo. Especially in all that bright sunshine.
But when it comes to preparations, there is also the fact that the work done by those preparing all these preparations deserves recognition, before all those damn people arrive and muck everything up. One of the particularly nice things about this wedding was the way that the help was, as it were, included. The people being paid to help make the wedding all just so were all treated as humans, rather than as invisible wage slaves. They were included, so to speak. Various paid helpers were, for instance, thanked, by the Groom, in his speech. Nice touch that, I think.
Note the big circular greenhouse-like structure featured in photo 1.2 there. Chatting with one of those helpers, I learned that it was the fairly recent addition of this piece of architecture to all the other architecture at this place that really turned it into a great wedding venue, because then they had a nice big space where people could shelter if the weather was not good. The floor, being made with big stone slabs, could get wet without any permanent damage being done. Imagine what it would be like on a rather rainy day, with sunny intervals and scattered showers, with people going out and getting mud all over their shoes, and then coming indoors to avoid the scattered showers. On carpets: nightmare. On stone slabs in a big greenhose, containing big mats to clean your shoes if you wanted to venture onto the carpets: no worries.
But on the day of this wedding, the weather was perfection. It has now reverted to being cold and miserable, which just goes to show that this wedding’s weather luck was better even than it seemed on the day. Not only did this burst of perfect weather follow two months of weather misery; it also preceded more weather misery.
So, photographic possibilities temporarily exhausted, I sat down in the sunshine and read some more of Matt Ridley’s The Rational Optimist, until other people finally started arriving. I have been thinking quite a lot lately, as a particular thing, about the matter of optimism and pessimism.
In the last of those pictures, the “Thank You” is to us guests, for showing up.
Bookshops are doomed, if my behaviour is anything to go by.
I treat them not as shops, but as showrooms. In them, I inspect potential purchases. Then I go home and see what Amazon will charge for anything I see that looks interesting.
A bookshop is not the only place for me to look for books of interest, but it is definitely one such place. The books in bookshops tend to be the more popular titles. This appeals to me for two reasons. First, popular titles tend to be quite good, and are seldom totally bad. Second, popular titles plug me into what the rest of middlebrow England is reading. I thus break out of the libertarian ghetto which I mostly inhabit when internetting. Even if a book is total rubbish, it’s still total rubbish that many are reading, and in that sense worth me reading.
When in bookshops, I used to jot down titles of interest. Now I merely take photos. Digital cameras are not just for taking pictures. They are also for taking notes.
Here are last Sunday evening’s notes, snapped in the big W. H. Smith at Victoria Station:
In each case, click on each picture to get to the Amazon spiel about it.
It may well be that, given Buy 1 Get 1 Half Price offers, one could, in this or that instance, get a better deal for this or that combination of books than one might on Amazon. But Amazon is the way to bet. You occasionally miss out on small savings with Amazon, but you quite often get larger savings, so you end up well ahead. In this case, the big Amazon bargain turned out to be the Bryson book, which cost 1p plus postage (= £2.81). All that is required is a little patience.
The most expensive of these books, even after Amazon had worked its price magic, was the one about 1216. But I still ordered that one. It sounds really interesting.
Great as the impact of Amazon has been on the new books market, I surmise that its impact on the not-so-new book market has been downright epoch-making. (That Bryson book is not so new, having been released in 2011.) Indeed, I surmise that Amazon has created a huge second hand book market where no such market previously existed.
But this too impinges on the bookshop business, because the big cost of books these days is as much reading time as reading money. If people spend time reading somewhat ancient books that they like, they have less time for the latest titles, as sold in bookshops.
A few years back, I got interested in Ian Rankin’s Rebus books. I read one, liked it a lot, and decided to read them all, in order. Why? Because, thanks to Amazon, I could. For a lot less than a fiver a go, I got Amazon to send me second hand copies of every Rebus I didn’t already have. I don’t see how I could have done this satisfactorily without Amazon.
See also: public libraries.
Also, impact of digital photography on trade, discuss. I’m thinking of how much easier it is to sell something to a stranger, by post, if you can cheaply show them a photo, or even several photos. Very cheaply. The marginal cost of digital photography is: zero. Impact of digital photography on trade: epoch-making. With books, you pretty much know what you will get. But, a frock? An item of furniture? Without even a photo, forget it. With photos, you’re in business. Which is more terrible news for shops.
That mobile phones have cameras means that even regular people now always have a camera with them. Already, mobile phone cameras are quite good. Soon, they will be as good as all but the best cameras, to the point where ever more people will be satisfied with their mobile phone cameras, and accordingly won’t want to be bothering with dedicated cameras at all. This transition is already under way, a fact which I regularly track whenever I roam about London snapping (among other delights) my fellow snappers and their snapping machines.
This photographer, for instance, looks like he’s using a “phone”, the inverted commas there being because these things are so much more than phones, to the point where the phoning is almost an afterthought. As Michael Jennings said last night, it really is something of an accident that we just happen to call these things “phones”.
Here is a photo I took with my Google Nexus 4, very soon after I got it, of Randy Barnett (already featured here in this earlier posting - bottom right of the first lot of pictures there), speaking at Freedom Forum 2013:
As you can see, the quality is okay, but only okay. Compare with the zoomed photo (at the link above) of Barnett, and you can easily see the difference that a better camera makes. If the Google Nexus 4 camera has a zoom feature, I have yet to discover it.
As the picture above shows, I (of course) had my regular camera with me at FF2013. But last night I was out and about for a short while, without that camera, only the Google Nexus 4. I was dining at Chateau Samizdata, and collecting Amazon stuff that I have delivered there rather than at my own front door, because at my own front door there have been robberies. So anyway, a recent arrive at CS was a keyboard, for use with the GN4, but although pre-warned that this keyboard would require two AAA batteries to make it go, I had forgotten to bring these with me. So, I nipped out to buy some. Without my regular camera.
Sod’s Law decrees that whenever you are out and about without your camera, interesting things will immediately present themselves to you. And one such interesting thing did, in the form of a sign making use of the double meaning of the word Pole. But, Sod’s Law was held at bay by my GN4, which I did have with me, in my jacket pocket, because keeping the GN4 in my jacket pocket at all times except when I am using it is The Rule. Snap snap, which fortunately I had more or less learned how to do:
The GN4 may not be much good for distance Big Things, and the like, but it is fine for a sign.
And since the sign was the point, even though I do like scaffolding, here is the bit of the picture with the sign:
No computerised trickery there, apart from the cropping. More than somewhat blurry, but entirely legible, the whole point of letters being that they hack their way through exactly such communicational barriers.
At his talk chez moi on Friday Feb 22nd (see below) on How globalisation has made the world less rather than more homogenised, Michael Jennings intends to show us some photos. Indeed, he will be dropping by earlier in the week to make sure that the relevant technology can be guaranteed to work properly on the night. This may also require some creativity with the seating.
Here, in the meantime, are a few photos that he has emailed to me, together with commentary. Enjoy.
This is in Sukhomi, Abkhazia, a breakaway non-recognised state that is de jure part of Georgia (and is supported by Russia). Mango is a fashion label that grew out of a stall in the Ramblas market in Barcelona, and is now to globalised retail what the sub-prime market is to home ownership.
An interesting phenomenon occurs when there is a market for a particular international business, and that international business does not operate in that particular market for whatever reason: because the market is too small, too distant, too poor, too corrupt, or there are political problems. Clones of the business will often spring up. These can be particularly entertaining in places where there is no trademark law, trademark law is weak, or where it can be legally difficult to pursue claims from the owner of the trademark. This burger place in northern Cyprus in no way resembles Burger King. Obviously.
One of the most extreme cases in which this phenomenon occurred was in South Africa under apartheid. Many international companies boycotted the country, which in some ways was a modern country with a sizeable middle class, economy and legal system. (In various other ways, it wasn’t and isn’t.) South Africa in 1990 was therefore full of quite good clones of international businesses, that until then were constrained as to where they could operate, but faces competition only from one another at home. Post 1990, the international businesses that they were clones of entered South Africa in a big way, and the South Africans themselves were subsequently able to compete in the wider world. The South African clones weren’t good enough or rich enough to compete in the home markets of the major internationals, and have subsequently expanded into countries that are poorly served by the internationals for a variety of reason - this means Africa, parts of Eastern Europe, parts of Asia, parts of the Middle East. Politically dubious markets of questionable legitimacy a lot the time. One often finds South Africans and Russians side by side.
One could write an entire book about fake Apple Stores. The ones in China (this one is in Tianjin) are the most awesome. The entire story of international brands in China is itself fascinating. Everyone is there, because of the perceived size and importance of the market. Yet the country is far more chaotic, far more unstable, far more corrupt, for more authoritarian, has weaker copyright and patent laws and a weaker rule of law in general than many of the markets these companies would generally consider operating in.
India is more problematic in some ways: bureaucratic beyond words, and culturally difficult in ways that make foreign business models work less well, or at least require a lot more adaptation. (Imagine you are McDonald’s, and you are told that you are not permitted to use either beef nor pork in the food you sell). There have historically been limits on foreign investment. Supermarkets are only now in the process of being legalised. Very large companies can find entry to the Indian market - car makers or mobile phone companies. Medium sized companies - which is where most of the interesting stuff happens - find it much harder.
It’s going to be an interesting evening.
As already mentioned here, my next Last Friday of the Month (i.e. Feb 22 – please arrive at my home between 7pm and 8pm) speaker is to be my good friend Michael Jennings. The long version of his talk’s title is:
How the globalisation of commerce has made the world less rather than more homogenised, and what I have learned out this by travelling the world.
Which I will hereby shorten down to:
How globalisation has made the world less rather than more homogenised.
As all his friends will unite in telling you, Michael has done a lot of travelling.
Emails will soon be going out confirming all this, and in particular drawing the emailee’s attention to the following, which is Michael writing at a little more length about the kinds of thing he intends to be talking about:
Around a decade ago, a friend of mine decried the fact that the American clothing chain “The Gap” was expanding around the world, and destroying the local character of the cities she was visiting. I then asked her in which cities, precisely, she had seen their stores. She paused for a moment, and said “New York, Toronto, London, and Paris”.
At the time she said this, The Gap had stores in precisely five countries in the world: The United States, Canada, The United Kingdom, France, and Japan. (They have since spread a little wider, but not much wider. And certainly, not much deeper. In many of the countries they operate in, they might have one or two stores in the capital city, but they are not a brand that ordinary people will interact with on a day to day basis.) This said far more about her than it did about The Gap: she travelled to the very small number of places that were its target market - places containing people similar to her - and assumed that this was “the world”.
An observation I made then was one that has been confirmed to me since: when you find someone who decries the corporate homogenisation of the world caused by globalisation, one immediately realises that they haven’t travelled very widely. With more thought, one also realises they haven’t travelled very deeply. The number of interesting restaurants in a city is strongly correlated with the number of McDonald’s outlets and the number of fast food chains present, and it is a positive correlation. The number of interesting coffee shops (and Bubble Tea cafes, and Polynesian Cava outlets) is strongly correlated to the number of Starbucks outlets, and once again it is a positive correlation.
The question really, is whether correlation is causation. Does the spread of McDonald’s and Starbucks cause local ecosystems of food, drink, and other retail outlets to become more complex and more sophisticated? If so, how do they spread, and why do they spread?
I have spent much of the last five years travelling the world, chasing the answers to these questions in various countries and quasi-countries. (Quasi-countries such as Northern Cyprus, Palestine, or Kosovo are particularly interesting, in that the forces that spread businesses and cultures are impeded and obstructed in certain ways, while simultaneously being not obstructed in other ways that they are obstructed in real countries, and one can learn a lot about what these forces are from this.) In doing so, I have learned much about the spread of international corporations, but also much about real estate booms and cheap money. The spread of international business confirms, in many ways, the starkness of international borders and the power of international institutions and how these things trump commerce. A quick glance at shopping malls and high streets in a foreign country can tell huge amounts of information about the governance and legal systems of a country - merely through the presence and absence of brands, and through what alternatives fill the gaps left by the absence of international brands.
On February 22 I shall attempt to draw and share some conclusions from what I have learned.
As to Michael’s question about correlation, causation, and so on, between on the one hand Starbucks et al, and on the other hand greater eating diversity, my untravelled guess would be that both are caused by globalisation, and in particular by lots of foreigners descending on the place, because of easier and cheaper travel, more globalised business activity, and so on. Some of these foreigners want their familiar stuff, i.e. Starbucks. And other foreigners welcome the change to get away from all that, and want sample local delicacies and diversions, perhaps guided by local work colleagues. Opposite sides of the same global coin, you might say.
But what do I know? Less than Michael Jennings, that’s for sure. He has not merely travelled. He has travelled, to use his own excellent phrase, deeply.
If you want to attend this event, email me, or leave a comment here, and I’ll get back to you to confirm that you will be very welcome, as you surely will be.
Actually, I’ve been getting ahead of myself. At some point late on Thursday afternoon, before hanging out in Caffe Nero, I visited Waterloo Station, to use one of the cash machines there, as I recall. And when I got there, I had my first go on the new upper deck that they’ve erected there. From below, this is ugly and intrusive, and it ruins the view of the old red-brick indoor facade. But when you are on it, it’s much more fun:
All those darkly dressed persons on a white floor reminded me of Breugel skaters.
Google “waterloo station balcony” for more imagery.
I do seem to like railway stations, don’t I? First Westminster, then London Bridge, and now Waterloo, all of them interesting in their very different ways.
It is now Monday afternoon, but the end of my Thursday Odyssey is hardly yet in site.
My next stop was at Gramex, where second hand classical CDs are on sale, in particular abundance during the last week or two, as it happens.
The BBC is making a big fuss of LPs just now. Fair enough. LPs had a huge influence on the music being created at the time. Pop music was transformed, for a while, by the album, as was Pop Art, the album cover being a new arena for graphic fun and games of all kinds. Remember all those concept albums?
I just about do, but for me, Pop etc. was a parallel universe. I never disliked it, in fact I admired and admire it very much, and I like occasional pop tracks hugely. Pop is hugely better than recent “classical”, classical being basically a museum now. But despite all that, then as now, I still preferred and prefer classical, and for all but a few vinyl-obsessed classicists, the LP was never more than a means of reproduction, a window to look out at the classical garden, and a very ropey one at that what with all the clicks and scratches, particularly during your favourite bits. Classical music was a going concern long before recordings of any kind existed, and classical LP graphics never amounted to much more than pictures of the musicians, fancy ye-olde typography and/or kitschy chocolate box type landscapes. So when classical LPs were replaced by classical CDs, little was lost and a universe of distraction-free clarity was gained. CDs, certainly classical CDs, after a brief interlude of euphoric demand-driven bonanza profits, quickly got cheaper than LPs if you knew anything about how to buy them, on account of them being so much cheaper to make and distribute.
At first, people thought CDs would eventually disintegrate, but actually what was disintegrating was the CD players. CDs last for ever, provided you are minimally careful. Certainly mine all have, the only problem CDs being the ones that were scratched when I bought them. Crucial to the cheapness of CDs is that you can buy them second hand with reasonable confidence. On Amazon, sellers are terrified of a bad rating, and in shops, you can search out scratches for yourself. Often a shop will let you buy and try, and return if it is too much of a mess. Often what looks like a mess plays just fine. (The trick is to realise that scratches often don’t matter, provided they point towards the middle, as it were. The ones that go with the groove, sideways, because they seriously interrupt the one stream of digital stuff, are the killers.)
So for me, classical CDs were love at first sound. I keep wondering if I may soon stop buying them, but the sort I continue to buy, second-hand at Gramex or (more recently) from Amazon, continue to drift downwards in price.
Here is what I bought at Gramex on Thursday:
I paid only eight quid for those. And the one on the left is a double, which I have been looking for cheap for quite a while. Look for them on Amazon, here and here, and you discover (today anyway) that you would have to pay more like thirty quid for those. Plus, there is no postage to pay if you buy them in Gramex, like there is with Amazon. The cheaper the stuff you like to buy, the more that matters.
Which, along with the exercise I get from going there, is why I keep returning to Gramex. Boss Roger Hewland knows exactly what he is doing. He knows all about Amazon, and regularly checks prices there so as to go below them. He buys big collections for about one quid per CD, often within a minute of looking at them. He then piles them high, sells them cheap, and turns over his stock fast. He knows that getting four quid for something he sells in two days is a better deal for him than getting a tenner, but a month later. And he charges more like one quid for less desirable CDs, just to get rid of them and to make it worthwhile for his regulars to keep on visiting.
More and more regular shops won’t or can’t think like this, and in the face of online selling are just folding their tents, to be replaced by gift shops, restaurants and coffee shops. The latter two being what I did next.
First I went to Marie’s Thai Restaurant, a minute away along Lower Marsh from Gramex, and had my regular chicken and cashoo nuts with rice and a glass of orange juice, and then killed some more time in a Cafe Nero, while continuing to read about Tamerlane, in a book I recently bought for four quid in a remainder shop. He was born. He deceived. He tortured. He slaughtered. He conquered. He died. His vast empire immediately fell apart amidst further slaughter. What a pointless monster. Read about all that and tell me there’s no such thing as progress.
Coffee shops do puzzle me a bit, though. How to do they pay their rent? The morning and lunchtime rushes I suppose, which I avoid.
My Thursday Odyssey continued, and I finally arrived at my first official destination of the day. I visited various other places, but only in passing.
The idea was not to find out how the Shard now looks from half a mile away, because all who care now know that. My self-imposed Shard mission last Thursday was to start learning about how the bottom of it is being organised, close to.
My main discovery was that the bottom of the Shard is a bit like the bottom of a Christmas Tree. The sloping glass that we all see from afar doesn’t go right to the ground. Okay, it’s not one single trunk at the bottom, in the middle, of course not. And actually there are big columns quite near where the sloping glass would have been, had it gone right down to the ground. But it is a bit more like a Christmas Tree than I was expecting.
Here are some of the pictures I took:
What I had not realised was how near to London Bridge Station it would end up being. And in fact, there are parts of that station’s concourse area which are directly underneath the Shard. The last two photos show this. The second last one has me looking up through the roof of the station concourse, and seeing the building itself looming upwards. The final shot includes several tree trunks, so to speak.
In general, I like the way the bottom of the building is starting to look, very much. So much of the harm done to cities in earlier times was blamed on towers, but was actually caused by the bad way towers were often handled at ground level.
It’s not all finished yet. There is a big bus station next to the train station, but the buses are not yet going there, as one of the above snaps in particular shows. There are still fences around the place, with propaganda about how wonderful it would be to live or work or stay in the Shard. The state of the world economy has meant that they are still hard selling the building, and presumably could face considerable losses. As of now, business is (as the old Hollywood joke goes) fantastic, amazing, incredible, amazing … but it’s picking up.
I didn’t think to enquire about what the system is for sampling The View From The Shard, which is the kind of thing I like to investigate in real life rather than only on line, given that I can. And I might have ventured into the station itself, the bit where the trains go I mean, to see how the Shard fits in with the nearest platform to it. But it was cold, and anyway, the joy of actually living in the object of my photographic passion (London) is that I can keep going back, to investigate the things I only wished I had investigated the first time around.
The photos below of NHS headlines were taken in one of my favourite newspaper and magazine shops, the one in Victoria Street on the left as you go towards Victoria Station, having turned left out of Strutton Ground. Moments after leaving that shop, I started off back in the other direction along Victoria Street, towards Parliament Square, and took these the two snaps below.
There is not much point any more in taking pictures of just The Wheel. We all know what that looks like. But I still like to snap away at it, when I am able to combine it with other things, such as particularly sastisfying foreground clutter, or a statue:
I especially like the one on the left, partly because the scene will never be repeated. I do like temporary clutter. And I particularly like how it says “ALARMED”, bottom right. I only saw that when I got home.
The statue on the right is the one featured in this posting here, from 2008, which I had of course totally forgotten about but have just been reminded about by google.
That’s right. I went a-googling for “statue outside westminster abbey”, and clicked on entry number four, “images for statue outside westmister abbey”. And guess what the Gold Medal Image was, the very first image, top left, number one on the list. That’s right, only me.
Not long ago, Alex Singleton dropped by. And one of the many intriguing things he told me was that Google really, really likes blogs like BrianMicklethwaitDotCom. This is because blogs like BrianMicklethwaitDotCom have been going for quite a long time, are quite frequently updated with new stuff, and are real blogs rather than fakes. Also, crucially, BrianMicklethwaitDotCom has now no truck with - and never ever has had any truck with - bullshit tricks for boosting traffic as peddled by bullshit tricksters on the www. Google can tell this. Google has its own box of clever tricks to spot anyone trying to do this, and guess who is cleverer, the bullshit tricksters or Google? And Google has worked out that I never do any of that crap. So, Google likes me, and when people look for a picture and I have such a picture, my picture gets to be at or very near the top of the list.
Alex also told me that some quite Big Cheese car maker and car seller had made the mistake of availing itself of the services of one of these traffic booster nitwits. Jaguar, I think it was. And Google proceeded to expunge Jaguar from its listings. So, when you went looking for a luxury car, you got no Jaguars at all. And if you went looking for jaguars, all you got was big black kitties.
At the time, I thought Alex himself might have been bullshitting, but it seems he may have been exactly right.
No, not Jaguar, so not exactly right, and I have only left that in for the kitty connection. Sorry Jaguar. If you want all that removed, just say the word and it will be done. I have just dined with Antoine Clarke, and he told me it was: BMW.
The gift shop is a rather recent phenomenon. It results of from regular stuff getting so cheap that if we want it, we go and buy it. So, when you are giving someone a gift, it can’t be a refular thing. It has to be a Gift.
And it just so happens that one of my favourite London streets, Lower Marsh (where I buy second hand CDs at Gramex), is rapidly turning into Gift Shop Alley.
And of all the gifts I have seen in the shop windows of gift shops, this is my favourite:
Trashy I know, but I do love it. Photoing through a window is a bit of a skill, which I do not really possess, but I did my best.
As I was photoing, a lady emerged from the shop, locking it on her way out, so she worked there. And she told me the name of the shop, which is not clear from outside: London Fossils and Crystals.
The skull of skulls is neither a fossil nor a crystal, but who cares?
As promised, more Croydon Shop Stuff, feline because it’s Friday:
Top left, superior Egyptian cats, and: a meerkat. They’re cats too, right? Well, kats, anyway.
Top right, you can see a hippo, next to all the exotic, big, wild cats. Hippos are extraordinarily rare in such situations, given how appealing you would think they might be. Stuff Shops are full of animals, such as monkeys, bears, cows, dogs, cats (of course), horses, and dinosaurs. But, hardly ever hippos, in fact pretty much never. I know this because Perry de Havilland collects hippos, and I am constantly on the lookout for them, to repay him a bit for all the free dinners I cadge off of him (and her).
The one in that picture is by something called Naturecraft, and it’s the only hippo they do. It costs £25 quid, and I’d be willing to go that far, but I reckon Perry already has one of these exact hippos. They aren’t hard to find on the www, so if he wants one, he already has one.
According to this site, Naturecraft was bought up and rejigged, and doesn’t do these animals any more. Maybe the problem was that people photoed them in shops, but didn’t buy them.