Brian Micklethwait's Blog
In which I continue to seek part time employment as the ruler of the world.Home
Rob on Vans that need to look the part
Rob Fisher on Footbridges in the sky
Rob Fisher on Footbridges in the sky
6000 on Quota caption competition
Michael Jennings on 148 to Burgess Park
Esteban on David Pierce on what it's like using an electric scooter
Brian Micklethwait on Zooming in on the workers
Rob Fisher on Zooming in on the workers
Brian Micklethwait on David Pierce on what it's like using an electric scooter
Rob Fisher on Zooming in on the workers
Most recent entries
- Black Cat white van
- Legal eagles versus illegal drones?
- A rejected Grand Chose that shouldn’t have been
- Vans that need to look the part
- Quota caption competition
- Footbridges in the sky
- White vans in Kentish Town
- A busy day and a collection of Big Things
- A still life and a cat cushion in Kentish Town
- A Japanese torpedo bomber that could use some zoom
- A good time of the year
- 148 to Burgess Park
- A Big Thing and a Much Bigger Thing – on a not-black cab
- Another way to photo my meetings
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Category archive: My photographs
I like white vans. And since this is Friday, I at least want recently to have encountered, virtually or for real, something feline, but with a bit of a difference from the usual internet felinities.
So, I was pleased to notice this vehicle, outside the Queen Elizabeth Conference Centre, across the road from Westminster Abbey, yesterday afternoon:
More about the enterprise in question here.
It is surprising, to me, given how much attention cats now get in the popular culture, how few enterprises use cattery to advertise themselves in this kind of way.
I still fondly remember a posting I did on Samizdata, over a decade ago now, about a banged-up police car that was claiming to be Working for a safer London. Well, the white van below, photoed back on December 29th of last year, isn’t as big a PR clanger as that was, but it is a bit bad:
I know, I know. You can’t really make data insecure by damaging the van on which it says “secure data management”. This is the enterprise in question. Look at where the green lines cross the phone numbers, and you will see that, in the picture there, it is not the same van. So, they have more than one van. And by the look of it, what these vans do is transport documents. Nevertheless, this blemish suggests a certain sloppiness, or maybe I mean a certain willingness to seem sloppy, that does not sit well with handling data securely. If I was them, I’d want it sorted soonest.
On the same day, on the same photo-expedition, I also photoed this van:
Not nearly as white as the secure data van, but more to the point: not a scratch and squeaky clean. Which is appropriate, because this is also a business which needs to look like it is taking care when it is doing its business:
With paramount importance placed on quality and support, all equipment is thoroughly cleaned, tested and checked by our experienced engineers ...
Here’s another van, also snapped on that same expedition, that is both white and clean:
White vans often get rather dirty, but not this one:
Calabash are the No.1 commercial cleaning and washroom services company in London. Since 1992 we’ve been ensuring our clients maintain their premises to the highest standards ...
This, in other words, is a van that also needs to be maintained to the highest standards, and by the look of it, it is.
It is already hours into tomorrow, so to speak, and I am tired, but with a daily posting run to keep going. Which means shoving up any old damn thing before I go to bed.
Here we go:
Once again, my trusty I Just Like It! directory has come to my rescue. Although, it does need replenishing somewhat.
This photo was taken nine years ago, almost to the day, on the South Bank, in the vicinity of the Wheel, where characters of this sort are constantly to be seen posing for photos and hoping for cash.
So, what were these particular two characters saying to each other? You decide, if you care. I doubt anyone will, but maybe someone will not only think of something but actually add a comment to that effect.
I think the tall guy in black is saying: How much for your shoes?
On the same day I photoed this stuff, up there in …
…, I also photoed white vans, like these ones:
“Rimessa a nuovo e posa pavimenti in Legno” is the Italian for having sex for the first time, very elegantly (like they’re performing), on the pavement, in a place called Legno. No not really, I don’t know what that means. Something to do with wood flooring.
As for th van on the right, rather black but with a giant white painted piece of seafood on it, well, I like it. Although I do miss the times when the Wright Brothers didn’t mean that, but meant the first people to fly an airplane and land it, or whatever it was exactly that the original Wright Brothers did.
Here, on the other hand, is a white van of the sort you don’t want to see:
Graffiti, badly covered up or badly cleaned up, and then more graffiti. Not good. I have never seen a white van that was an graffiti battlefield before. Graffighting?
So, I’ll cheer myself up with another white van, this time an excellent one, photoed more recently, outside a building site in Westminster:
A white van for looking after tower cranes. White vans don’t get any better than that..
Today I have been what passes with me for busy. By this I do not mean that I have been doing anything along the lines of work, of benefit to others. Oh no. But I have been paying attention to a succession of things, all of which involved me not being in much of a state to do anything else.
There was a game of cricket, there was a game of rugger, and a game of football. England defeated South Africa. England defeated Scotland. And Spurs defeated Watford. So, three for three. And then I went to hear a talk at Christian Michel’s, about The Unconscious, Freudian and post-Freudian. Freud, it turns out, was right that there is an Unconscious, but wrong about a lot of the details.
On my way home from that talk, I took a photo. Technically it was very bad photo, because it was taken through the window of a moving tube train. It is of an advert at a tube station. But my photo did the job, which was to immortalise here yet another assemblage of London’s Big Things, in an advert:
That’s only a bit of the picture, rotated a bit, lightened and contrasted a bit and sharpened a bit.
The advert was for these visitor centres, which sound suspiciously like what used to be called “information desks”.
I see: the Cheesegrater, the Wheel, the BT Tower, Big Ben, the cable car river crossing, the Gherkin, Tower Bridge, the Shard, St Paul’s, and the pointy-topped Canary Wharf tower. I forgive TfL for plugging the embarrassing Emirates Dangleway. If they didn’t recommend it, who would?
Because of all that busy-ness, I have no time to put anything else here today.
Tomorrow: Super Bowl!
LATER: AB de Villiers, talking about South Africa now being two down with three to play:
“I can’t help but think, shit we have got to win three games in a row to win this series. Shucks, I mean. But that’s the fact of the matter. In situations like this, whether you are 2-nil up or 2-nil down, you have to take a small step. The next game is important for us. Shucks.”
We all know what shit is, but now learn what a shuck is.
The other day (like there has been been just the one (which is idiotic)), I was in …:
… to have brunch with GD2 and her sister in their newly acquired home.
While there I took some photos, including this still life, of pots and pans and utensils, which looks rather nice, like an oil painting:
Staying tasteful and artistic, and seeing as how this is Friday, here is something else I snapped there:
Yes, it’s a cat cushion! It was, though, probably there when they moved in.
Since a major percentage of the point of Art is to stay a couple of steps ahead of and to thereby piss off the dumbo bourgeoisie, the latest batch of Artists would probably now reckon the cat cushion to be more Artistic than the still life.
As for the bloke who painted that Kentish Town sign, he probably now works for an advertising agency.
Early February is one of my favourite times of the year. Income tax is over and done with for another year. The days, although not yet long and warm, are at least getting longer and warmer. (Already the day is an hour longer than its December 24th worst.) And that means that well-lit photography time expands, which means I can do the same amount of photography but do not need to start so early.
That’s another snap I took yesterday. The Strata Tower was looking particularly fine in the evening sun. Very metallic.
And, because it’s only February, there were no damn leaves getting in the way of everything, just artfully interposed branches:
And, there is the Six Nations. It’s that time just before the first round kicks off, and so far, nobody’s team has lost any games. Every team has a one hundred percent record! How great is that?!?
Also taken yesterday.
Yes, today I was in Burgess Park, which is the other side of the river from me. I took the 148 bus, to see where it would go, and once in that bus, I spent my time wondering what Camberwell Green is.
I tried to take photos out of the bus, but the best seats, at the top at the front, were taken. I had to sit right at the back. But, in the vicinity of the Elephant and Castle, I did manage this:
I got lucky with the crane shadow, didn’t I? The development is called Elephant Park.
I never did find out about Camberwell Green, because the bus got stuck in a jam next to one of the entrances to Burgess Park, and I got out at the next stop to take another look at this diverting space. I visited Burgess Park once before, and liked it a lot. Great views of Big Things. Today was also good, from that point of view:
But the shot of the day, in my opinion so far, on the same evening, is this, of a photographer photoing the sunset:
You’ll have to take my word for it that the sunset is what he was photoing, and for that matter that he was even holding a camera. But he was.
This picture of a taxi ticks two BMdotcom boxes. First, its a black cab which isn’t, either because it just isn’t, or because it is covered in an advert. In this case, it’s a bit of both:
But better, we observe in the advert on the not-black cab two Big Things. The Big Thing on the left says: London! And what is actually the much Bigger Thing, on the right, says: New York! I am collecting imagery that says: London!, and this fits that bill very well, even if it does say: New York! as well.
I quite like the replacement for the Twin Towers, but it seems to me rather bland, in a picture, when you can’t see how very big it is. Bland being what you do not want in a Big Thing for saying: New York! But I guess, the Twin Towers having established themselves as the Big Things that formerly said: New York, whatever replaced them was going to have to do that job as soon as it appeared, bland or not. The Empire State or the Chrysler would no longer do, them having already been dethroned as the sayers of: New York!, by the Twin Towers.
I think it is very telling that in the New York picture there is a clump of skyscrapers rather than just one. Because New York is not any one skyscraper. It’s a forest of skyscrapers. Each individual skyscraper may be rather bland, but what it all adds up to is anything but bland.
But New York is not my town, and that is only me guessing.
Yes, I have struggled over the years to get good photos of what my meetings are like. The problem typically is that I can never get everyone into the same picture, and the pictures look like about half as many people attended as actually did. Since the number wasn’t that huge to start with, that’s not what you want.
Here is a different approach:
That was the scene today following last night’s meeting, me having done almost zero tidying up to that point, bar hoovering up a few crisps. Now, Imagine that space with as many people sitting in it as you can fit in. That was what it was like last night.
If you reckon that the “table” in the middle looks like it could be improved upon, you are not wrong. There was a disaster when it collapsed last night, luckily not during the Tim Evans talk, and some fruit juice hit the carpet, along with lots of potato crisps. And it was then only imperfectly reassembled. More work is needed on that front. But it was a great evening, partly because of the table collapsing, because that sort of thing adds to the anecdotage factor. But mostly because it was an excellent talk, and because a very classy group of people who came to hear it. Including a baby, who was very welcome.
Talking of unsatisfactory tables, I wasn’t feeling so good myself today. My sleep last night was full of weird dreams, which I can still remember bits of, which is not normal. Plus, I have a new blender, and this morning’s concoction was terrible. The trouble with most vegetables is that they don’t taste of anything. Or, they taste rather nasty. Thank goodness for cherry tomatoes. But, all my current stash of cherry tomatoes got consumed last night by all the people that you can’t see in the picture.
Also, on her right, some of the new buildings at the top end of Victoria Street.
It’s already deep into tomorrow morning, after my meeting. It went well, but (or and) I am now very tired.
This is weird. When I did a posting at Samizdata called My 2015 in pictures, I intended to include a picture I took of one of my meetings last year, the one at which Aiden Gregg spoke. But, although I talked about it, I didn’t actually include the picture. Rather humiliatingly, nobody noticed, or if they did notice, they didn’t care, or if they did care, not enough to complain.
So here is that picture:
I have also added it to that Samizdata posting, which absolutely nobody at all will notice. But, get it right, eh?
I think I got this picture by standing on a chair.
I mention all this now because I have another of these meetings, the first of this year, tomorrow evening. Speaker: Professor Tim Evans (also mentioned in that Samizdata posting), talking about Jeremy Corbyn and all that. Turnout looks like being just right, with the room comfortably as opposed to uncomfortably full. Luckily the seating arrangements have been improving.
Here, for good measure, is the photo I took of Tim when he gave his Inaugural Professional Lecture at Middlesex University, last summer, and which was also included in that Samizdata posting:
Not being accustomed to the ways of Academe, that get-up makes Tim look, to me, like he is in a very trad production of Wagner’s Mastersingers.
Quota photo time, in the form of a view of the Walkie Talkie that I didn’t find when I image-googled “Walkie Talkie tower London”, which I suppose is what you want:
I took this photo on the day I had actually been to the top of the Walkie Talkie, and the views from this top are, as you would expect, wonderful. But when I skimmed through all the photos from that day just now, looking for a quota photo, this was the shot that I found myself stopping at.
Most of the pictures of the Walkie Talkie emphasise how huge it is compared to the buildings around it. But when you actually get closer, like this, it doesn’t loom so large. I mean, it’s not as if all these old buildings have been flattened to make way for the Walkie Talkie. The buildings nearby look quite big, and the Walkie Talkie, a bit further away, looks big too, but not as disproportionately huge as it does when you see the same contrast from further away.
If you like the picture that was bottom right, here, then maybe you will also like these, which were taken at the exact same time. They were, first time around, not shown here. But now, I think they deserve an outing:
It was the sky that was so good.
Yesterday here was quite strenuous, as was my life today doing other things. So that’s all.
Earlier this month I came upon a clutch of Boris Bikes. Boris Bikes used to be sponsored by Barclays Bank, and now, as you can see from the pictures of Boris Bikes that follow, they are sponsored by Santander, but Boris Bikes is what we all call these things.
Here are six of the Boris Bike pictures I took, on January 11th:
Click on each of those to get six, seemingly pretty much identical, big pictures.
But actually, they are not identical pictures.
I have recently become especially interested not just in the way that London’s Big Things look when I photo them, but in the way that others use these Big Things, or stylised representations of these Big Things, to say “London”. In an advert for being a tourist in London, for instance. Or, in this case, as a way to flag up that here are some bikes for hire which will enable you to bike around in London, seeing London. And how do you make biking around London and seeing London seem more enticing? You throw in pictures of London’s Big Things. (You even throw in Big Things if you are advertising for sperm donors. Had it not been for my recently cultivated alertness to the use of London’s Big Things in adverts, I’d not have bothered to photo that sperm donor advert.)
What I noticed about these bikes, and what got me photoing so many of them in this apparently way too excessive manner, is that each of them has a picture of two London Big Things on them. I was able to find six different Big Thing duos, hence the above six pictures.
Allow me to save you the bother of looking more closely at the Big Things on these bikes, with some cropped out squares:
I just used google image searching to see if I could find any other Big Thing duos that I had not photoed on that day out, earlier this month. I failed. So far as I can tell, there are just six ways in which these bikes are decorated.
The complete set of Big Thing duos would appear to be: The Shard and Tower Bridge, the Wheel and St Paul’s Cathedral, the Big Olympic Thing and the Tower of London, the Millennium Bridge and Battersea Power Station, the Gherkin and Buckingham Palace, Big Ben and the Dome. Ancient and modern, in pairs. I find this list interesting both for what is included, and for what is not. I am guessing that these Big Things were not chosen just by a bunch of guys round a table picking them. I’m guessing that a serious attempt was made to pick Big Things that really do say London to lots of different people. In particular, this is data about which particular bits of new engineering and architecture have truly been added to the short list of Big Things that are not merely big, but loved. Although it’s worth adding that the Millennium Bridge is not actually that big.
Even if actually this short list of six ancient Big Things and six modern Big Things actually was put together by a bunch of guys sitting around a table at an advertising agency, in the space of half an hour, well, that’s still data, of a sort. These are the Big Things that they think say London, to the people they are trying to persuade to hire Boris bikes.
The surprises? Well, for me, a slightly surprising inclusion is the Big Olympic Thing, and maybe a slightly surprising exclusion is Tate Modern. Also not included here: the new Wembley Arch. But by far the biggest surprise here is, I think, the omission of: the BT Tower.
Can anyone think of any other omissions as big as that one?
Of course, it could be that there are Boris bikes out there with the BT Tower on them, or with the Wembley Arch on them, and I just haven’t clocked them.