Brian Micklethwait's Blog

In which I continue to seek part time employment as the ruler of the world.

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Category archive: My photographs

Friday April 20 2018

When you think of lions in Trafalgar Square, you think of lions like this one, as photoed by me, in January 2015, at the Charlie Hebdo demo:

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But one of my favourite lion in Trafalgar Square photos, which I took in April of 2014 but never got around to putting here until now, was this one:

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I think it’s the leather handbag that makes this so good.  This is a lion quietly going about her business (it feels like a her despite the mane), not conquering the world or even aggressively promoting anything.  She’s just out shopping.  She does have a rather startled expression on her face, but that’s because she’s being photoed.  She’s not angry you understand, just surprised that anyone should be interested in photoing her.  “Ooh, hello dear!  Are you photoing me?  I hope I’m looking my best.” And maybe a bit scared that I mind have designs on her bag.

More seriously, I like to photo, and to show here, faces where face recognition is not an issue.

Wednesday April 18 2018

Yes, last night the Castalian String Quartet played late Haydn (op 76 nos. 1, 2 and 3) at the Wigmore Hall.  Wonderful.

Often, when I watch string quartets in action I feel a bit sorry for the second violin and the viola.  Not with these players.  Even the most innocuous and repetitious little chords, chugging away in the background, were made to come alive.  Every note, every phrase, especially every chord, had been thought about, but unlike with some of the latest string quartets, the result was not, despite my early fears, any excessive yanking around of the tempo and general over-emphasis on passing detail at the expense of the bigger musical story and the longer musical line.  There was plenty of detail, but all in the service of the pieces as a whole.

Here they are, soaking up the applause at the end:

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And here they are taking a bow:

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I was going to call this posting The Castalian String Quartet take a bow.  But when a string instrumentalists take a bow, is that bow to rhyme with how (the lowering of the head forwards when being applauded), or is it bow to rhyme with go (the thing they each use to play their various instruments)?  The English language is, to borrow a phrase I recently heard being used to describe a rather over-enthusiastic expert on something or other, a minefield of information.

Whenever I really enjoy a live concert, I tend to rootle around afterwards in my CD collection to see what recordings I have of the music I just saw being played.  While concocting this posting, I had this cd on in the background.  Also wonderful.

I’m guessing from all the microphones that were to be seen last night, which my photos only show a few of, that there may soon be a cd of this concert.  I hope so.

Saturday April 14 2018

Indeed.  Last night I was walking somewhat exaustedly from St James’s Park towards Victoria, and this took me along Petty France, which is where the Ministry of Justice is to be found.  This is the one that used to be the Home Office and which looks like an Eastern Bloc Embassy.  And in Petty France, right next to this Ministry of Justice, I spotted this:

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Yes, an urban fox.  You expect to see such beasts in the more sprawling London suburbs, the sort that contain lots of open spaces and vegetation.  But not trotting along the pavement, right past a major government ministry.

It was getting dark rapidly, and for some idiot reason I had set my camera to make movies instead of regular photos.  But that did at least mean I could pick out a less bad still shot.

Luckily, the quality of the photo is not the point here.  It’s the principle of the thing.  Cats and dogs, yes.  (At first, I thought that this fox was a cat.) Horses, carrying policepersons, exercising themselves in between riots.  Good.  Ducks.  Pigeons.  Herons (see below).  That’s all fine.  But foxes?  That was a real surprise.  And a definite first for me, in central London.

Friday April 13 2018

Yes, way out west.  Barnes.  I was there earlier in the week with GodDaughter 2.  We dined here, right beside the river.  Very nice.  Very appetising.

It was a dull day just like today, but I had my camera with me anyway, and in among photoing the bridge upstream and the bridge downstream, I also photoed various birds.  Including this one, which I suspected was a heron and which a little bit of image googling confirmed was a heron:

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The first three came out quite well, but the final one, bottom right, is the heron disappearing across the river, in a bird blur, with an even blurrier bird reflection underneath it as it flew away.  My camera moving excitedly didn’t help, but I still quite like it.

My favourite, however, is the first one, top left.  In that one, I particularly like the goofy way that the heron seems to have its knees pointing inwards, like he has been caught breaking some rule, and is shuffling his feat.  Or her feet.

Thursday April 12 2018

At the time of the Scottish Independence referendum, I discovered in myself a great fondness for the Union Jack.  Not for its political symbolism.  I see the break-up of the UK as pretty much, in the longer run, inevitable, and probably desirable.  We’d be rid of Scotland’s stupid politics, and they have to live with all the consequences of their stupid politics and would shape up.  Win win.  No, I just like the Union Jack as a design.

One of the many things I like about the Union Jack is how you can change the colours, yet still keep it clearly recognisable, as an altered Union Jack, but still a Union Jack.I don’t know any other flag design that works so well that way.

So, for instance, this afternoon, on my way from meeting up with a friend, I was in Wilton Road (I think it was) and I encountered this Union Jack variation:

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Website.

Wednesday April 11 2018

I have an abundance of CDs, and CDs last for ever, provided you don’t mistreat them violently.  I do not mistreat my CDs at all.  CD players, however, do not last for ever, no matter how well you treat them.  I was in Tottenham Court Road this afternoon, seeking another CD player, small enough to go beside my bed, to replace the small CD player there which is misbehaving.

The weather was grim and grey.  We had a couple of first days of spring a while back, but so far there has been no actual spring.  Not good photoing weather, in other words.  But I did get a few shots of this ensemble, of the BT Tower, pollarded trees, and cranes, of which this was my favourite:

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I tried a little “sharpen lightly” on that, and it looked, as you would expect, sharper.  But, the weather wasn’t sharp today, so I undid it.  That is exactly what emerged from the camera.

Saturday April 07 2018

Yes, ten years ago to the day, I was photoing photoers, and it is now a vanished era.  Of dedicated, cheap, small cameras:

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It’s the red ones I like best.

Wednesday April 04 2018

Yes, a few days ago now, I had a haircut.  I like to get value for money, and get rid of lots of hair whenever it gets cut.  Here’s the before and after of it:

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Both of those photos are examples of Multiple Selfies, where, one way or another, you get two or more selfies instead of just the one.  The one on the right, if my camera screen and my camera and my mirror and your screen were all perfect (which they are far from), would have been an Infinitely Multiple Selfie, but in reality it only makes it to being what the one on the left is: a Double Selfie.

Note how in each case I artfully disguise the state of my chin(s?).  On the right by holding my head high and stretching it.  On the right with the careful (but alas not quite perfect) placing of the camera.  Sometimes, when selfie-ing I try to look my best.  Often, I just don’t bother.

I know what you’re thinking.  Selfies aren’t cool.  But look at it this way. The human face is interesting, but you can’t just photo Other People and shove their faces up on the WWW, WWWithout their permission.  It’s not polite.  It could make trouble for them, if they are strangers who didn’t want it known that they were in London, or if they are friends of mine and don’t want it know that they are friends of mine.  Which leaves my face as the only face it is convenient for me regularly to photo and then stick up here, with my oWWWn full permission.  I had to crop the Double Selfie on the left to cut out another bloke.  I did this because of internet etiquette, not raging egocentrism.  Besides which, if selfies are raging egocentrism, this is my blog and I’ll do whatever I want with it.

So anyway, back to the haircut.  I have been going to the local haircutting shop, Adriano’s, at the corner of Horseferry Road and Horseferry Road (it does a right angle kink), pretty much ever since I moved into my home in about 1990.  Every time I go there, I say: very short please, shorter than you usually do.  And the old bloke there (Adriano?), who has a full head of hair, starts snipping away, very carefully, and goes on for as long as he considers seemly.  The result looks great, but not as short as I want.  Once, I very nearly got what I wanted, when another bloke with shorter hair cut my hair shorter.

This time was different.  It was another bloke, with no hair on his head at all.  He is not completely bald, but he had that look where he was pretending he wasn’t partly bald by saying, I’m deliberately bald.  On purpose.  Without such deliberation, I would have hair all over my head!  It fools nobody because his hair immediately starts to grow again, and his actual baldness is quickly evident.

Anyway, I felt optimistic about this guy.  Make it almost as short as your hair, I said, but not quite.  Said he: OK.  Maybe, finally, I’d get the haircut I wanted.  I did.  Instead of the agonising, disapproving and prolonged snipping I was used to, Mr Baldie got an electric shearing device and just sheared it off, as if my head was a sheep.  It took less than a minute. The next three minutes was just tidying up, and it was all done.

Next time, if Mr Baldie does it again, I will take photos during as well as before and after, because these would have been outstanding.

I rather think that in the left hand one, above, before, a weird effect is that my hair is shorter on my right side than on the left.  This is because, being right-handed, I pull out more hair from the right side than the left side, when washing it in the bath.  (I wash it in the bath.)

Tuesday April 03 2018

A reason I like to put my photos on a blog, rather than just shove them out to the world on Flickr or Instagram or some such thing, is that I often like to say complicated things about them.  I like to say why I like about them, basically.  For the photos I show here, this blog is about what’s in the photos, as well as just photoing itself.

I also like explaining the photos.  Often it isn’t obvious what they are off, or where the thing they are of is.

Distressing though it is to contemplate, not everybody in the world is able to live in London, the way I do.  Some of these unfortunates read this blog and view my photos.  Not knowing London, such persons require explanations.

Take this photo, for instance:

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Very pretty, I hope you agree.  But where on earth is it, and where was it taken from?  It was taken from the top of the Tate Modern extension, which is the brick building in the middle of this photo:

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What we also see in that photo is the big old tower of Tate Modern, and in the foreground, one of London’s more interesting railway stations, interesting because it is on a bridge.  I love that about it.  Especially if it encourages other bridges to be building, say out east, which also have buildings on them, like old London Bridge once did.

But I digress.  Which is another reason for sticking photos on a blog.  On a blog you can digress all you want.

So anyway, back to that photo at the top, of the staircase with all its shadows.  Where would that be?

Well, here’s another photo taken from the exact same spot, at the top of the Tate Modern extension, which puts the staircase in context and shows where it is.  It is right in the middle of this view:

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Or consider this rather banal view, also to be seen from the top of the TME, this time looking south:

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On the right are those flats, whose inhabitants have been complaining about being looked at through their big windows, with its big lift shaft on its left.  And further over to the left, further away, we see the three-eyed tower that is Strata, or the Razor as some call it.  Why do I show you that?  Because this ...:

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… which is what I saw by moving along a bit to the right, and looking at Strata through the lift shaft.

How would you know what that was, if I didn’t explain it?

And there’s more explaining to be done.  What is that odd brick pattern, reflected in the glass of the lift shaft, through which Strata is to be seen?

Well, here is a closer-up photo of the TME, taken around the same time, but when the sky was white rather than blue:

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Click on that and you get a closer look at that brickwork.  Or better yet, just look at this even-closer-up photo of it, that I took, also on the white sky day:

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I actually like this brickwork a lot.  It makes this extension both blend in with the old power station that Tate Modern used to be, and yet makes the new building distinctive.  In general, this extension has a highly individual look about it.  As I think I’ve said here before, Art I can take or leave, but I do like the new buildings they build for it.  Yes, see also here.

Monday April 02 2018

So this evening I dined at Chateau Samizdata, where hippos assemble, from all parts of the world.  This hippo, with storage space and a lid, is the latest arrival:

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I said I thought it looked a bit like a sheep.  It’s the legs.  I was told, no, it’s a hippo.  The food was great and the drink was even greater, and I even got a present of some drinks glasses that were superfluous to Chateau Samizdata’s current requirements.  So,yes, now that I look at it again, I see that it looks exactly like a hippo.  No question about it.  Not like a sheep at all.

Sunday April 01 2018

I became fixated on Spurs in the 1960s, like a baby goose, because then they were so good.  Plus, I always like their Jewish angle and still do.  I have supported them, strictly at a distance and media access permitting, ever since. They’ve been sporadically good since that ancient time, but never as good.  Finally, that seems like it might be changing.

Today Spurs beat Chelsea at Chelsea, the last time they did that having been in 1990.  Spurs are now in fourth place, which if they stay there is high enough to get them into the Champions League again.  They are now 8 points clear of Chelsea in fifth.  With seven more games to be played, it’s not settled yet, but things just got a lot better for Spurs.

I just watched Dele Alli’s two goals on the TV highlights, and with both it was not just the skill but the speed with which he did what he did that was so impressive.  Before that, Eriksen hit what the radio commentators were calling a potential goal of the season.  One of those long distance, fast and late inswingers.

So, to celebrate, here is a photo I took of the new Spurs stadium, which will get moved into next season or thenabouts.  It will be a few games before the Spurs team settles in and starts enjoying their home advantage whenever they play there.  But judging by how well they did this season at the at first unfamiliar Wembley, it shouldn’t take them too long to settle into New White Hart Lane.

So, this is how New White Hart Lane was looking last November, with one of the Walthamstow reservoirs in the foreground:

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Mmmm.  Cranes.

I haven’t checked progress more recently, and can offer no photos from since then.  But here are 103 more pictures, and counting, of New White Hart Lane’s progress.  I knew you’d be excited.

Thursday March 29 2018

The other day, I photoed the Battle of Britain Monument.  This is across the road from the Victoria Embankment Gardens, which I also explored, to begin with just to find out if I could.  I could.  This contains various war memorials and statues, but also many things that you are either urged to do or urged not do:

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That is a horizontal slice of a sign next to one of the entrances.  Click to get the whole thing.

It reminds me of an American book I read long ago entitled Please Don’t Eat The Daisies.  The point of that title being that every time the American parents described in the book left their American children to their own devices, they had to ask them to please refrain from an ever longer list of things that they had previously done which were bad.  One time, they ate the daisies.  So, that had to be added to the list of things they were begged not to do.

Each of the do-this don’t-do-this red circles above feels to me like a moment in the past when people started doing or to fail to do whatever it was in noticeable numbers, having previously not thus misbehaved.

Wednesday March 28 2018

Pollarding is what you do to trees, if you want to make them look like this, as lots of people seem to:

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It’s not that warm now.  But nor is it that cold now.  It now feels warm because of it being less cold than it recently was.  Simply weather-wise, I probably prefer June.  But in June, the trees are all smothered in leaves.  Pollarding effects would be hidden.

I like the bobble on top of the building, far right.  Fits in well, I think.

Tuesday March 27 2018

I don’t quite know why I am so very fond of tourist crap shops.  I think it’s basically because of how very weird they are.  Also, perhaps, the notion that no-one else in my circle of friends and acquaintances gives them a second look, so I do, just to be different.  My friends and acquaintances certainly certainly wouldn’t consider the crap in tourist shops to be worthy of photo-immortality, and those are just the things that I think often make the best photos.

Consider this photo, taken recently in Piccadilly: 

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What is particularly weird about that is how very unlike the actual Queen Elizabeth II those Queen Elizabeth IIs contrive to look.

And those Sherlock Holmeses are hardly any better.  In fact, they are probably worse.  Sherlock Holmes didn’t look like anything at all, because he was made up, by a writer of fiction.  But he surely doesn’t, in anyone’s mind, look like those Sherlock Holmeses.  They look like Sherlock Holmes as re-enacted in a school play, by a rather bad boy actor who couldn’t do make-up properly, and who therefore sought assistance from someone else who couldn’t do make-up properly.

It’s as if the people selling these things, and the people buying them, are all people to whom us white people all look alike.

Monday March 26 2018

Today I was out and about, enjoying one of those First Day of Spring days, of which we get quite a few, and I always try to get out and photo-celebrate them.

This time I walked along the river on the north side, from Westminster to the Embankment.  Which took me past the Battle of Britain Monument, of which this is a detail:

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That was the only photo I took of this Monument.  Such is my eyesight that I had no idea how intense those faces were and are, until I saw them on my screen.  It’s their eyes.

If your eyes don’t work properly and you go on a sightseeing walk, the only way you will actually get to see what you saw properly is to photo it.