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

Tuesday July 26 2016

I love before and after pictures.  Here is another, showing how the world looked before Blackfriars Bridge Railway Station was built (photo taken in 2004), and after it was built (photo taken a few weeks ago).

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What the two pictures have in common in those ghostly red columns, left over from an earlier Blackfriars railway bridge.

I seem to recall once upon a time speculating that the ugly lump next to the Shard made the Shard possible.Yes:

The Ugly Lump with the gasometer in front of it, on the right, is Guy’s Hospital.  The other day I heard myself surmising that maybe if Guy’s Hospital had never been built, the Shard might not have been built either.  As it was, there was no nearby neighbourhood or particular bit of the London skyline to ruin, aesthetically speaking, because that job had already been done by Guy’s.  As it was, any aesthetical objection to the Shard was, as far as the immediate locals were concerned, a non-starter.

I still think that’s right.  And what I now wonder is: did something similar happen with the new Blackfriars Station, the one on the bridge, that you can see in the right hand picture above, but not in the left had one?  What I’m thinking is that the view that you see on the left, looking over Blackfriars railway bridge to the towers of the City is perhaps not a view that London’s rulers were especially proud of, what with those columns.  Personally, I love the columns.  For me, they are classic London at its weirdest and most eccentric.  But you can imagine Powerful People being a bit uneasy about this oddity, and about the fact that Something Should Have Been Done About Them, by, you know, them.  So, a railways station which spoilt this view, while not doing too much violence to views across the top of the bridge from further away, might not have been unwelcome.  Without the columns, however, there was a view that they might not have been so ready to see interrupted.

This is just a speculation, just a thought, just a suggestion.  I’m sure lots of other thinking besides that sort of thinking went into the building of this weird and eccentric railway station.  (I added the word “more” to my title after first posting this.) But, I think there might be something to this.

Perhaps those Powerful People also hoped that something new and more constructive might be done with the columns, what with the new railway station being built.  Maybe such a use was even promised, but later abandoned, for some reasons or other.

LATER: Actually, what I am now realising is that there used to be three disembodied rows of red columns, but that the right hand row as we look got swallowed up in a widened version of the original bridge.  My pictures show this rather well, which is why I finally noticed.

Monday July 25 2016

Have I ever shown you this photo?  I don’t believe I have.  If I have, well, I think it’s good, and here it is again, slightly rotated and cropped into a square:

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That was taken from the top of Hotel ME, in January 2014.  On the left the Spraycan.  On the right, the Millbank Tower, with its glorious roof clutter crewcut.

I definitely showed a clutch of other photos I took on the same day (Jan 25), but no, not that one.

This is why I like to trawl back through the photo-archives.  I see things I didn’t see at the time.

Sunday July 24 2016

Indeed:

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It’s number seven of these.  Missed it when this was first shown.  But it’s never too late to show Big Things in alignment.

Saturday July 23 2016

This is a map showing my officially designated destination last Tuesday (the hottest day of the year (so far)).  Across the bottom we see the railway going from past Waterloo main station to Waterloo East, in the middle towards the bottom, horizontally:

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And just north of Waterloo East station is Roupell Street, in the middle of all those back-to-back houses, that I photoed in 2004 and then again last Tuesday (the hottest day of the year (so far)):

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Here we are at the Cornwall Road end of Roupell Street, looking east.  Lots of blue sky.  No clouds.  No clouds anywhere, actually.

I suspected gentrification, and the place did indeed have an air of rocketing house prices and of the banishment of old-fashioned workers, of the sort who presumably, once upon a time, lived in these houses.

In particular, I spotted three interesting vehicles.

First, a Citroen DS19 (I think 19):

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So far so (relatively) ordinary.

But this was a bit more exotic, also a Citroen, something called (I also photoed where it said this) an “SM”:

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And perhaps best of all, another vintage Citroen, in the form of an estate car version of the DS19:

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Click on the above three pictures to get to the uncropped and even more sun-drenched originals.

All of these Citroens were parked within the space of about two dozen yards of each other, the first two right next to each other.  I reckon what we have here is a collector of antique Citroens.  And if that isn’t gentrification, je ne sais quoi what is.

Friday July 22 2016

Last Tuesday was ferociously hot by English standards.

The first thing I noticed, when I stepped into the inferno that was outdoors, were those windows which are not windows. (1)

After dropping in on Gramex (on that day mostly stuffed with stuff I either already had or didn’t want), I went to Waterloo Station, where I came upon that Ghostbusters sculpture. (2)

I was at Waterloo because my officially designated destination was to check out the state of this view:

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I took that photo in July 2004, with a now antique Canon A70, through a window, hence those unfortunate reflections.

Because it was a rather dirty window, this photo also emits a rather antique-photo atmosphere, like it was taken in the very earliest days of colour photography, an atmosphere greatly reinforced by the subject matter.  Right in the middle of that snap is a bunch of back-to-back terrace houses.  Where are we?  Somewhere in The North?  No, we are looking out on a little bit of London near Waterloo Station, a strange clutch of houses left untouched by either bombing or Modern Architecture.  All around this antiquated patch of otherness, Modern Architecture is springing up, beating its chest and yelling for attention.  But the thing itself is an unsullied little set of dwellings that would not be out of place in a DH Lawrence TV adaptation.

Here is how the same view looked last Tuesday:

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No dirty window, no reflections, because I managed to get my camera through a small window opening out into the open.  Also, my latest camera takes a broader view of things, which means that the stubby tower in the 2004 photo has become slimmer, and more of the horizon is to be seen.  The Oxo Tower, for example, has moved into view.

The most obvious change is how 240 Blackfriars now blocks out so much.  Tate Modern, Tate Modern Extension, and a large chunk of the City, all blotted out.

The place where I took these photos, from the outside, in 2004 as now, looks like this:

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Just before taking the new version of the back-to-backs view, I took another photo, through another window off to the right of the ones you see in the above photo, the one of the Wheel and the cranes and the clutter in this earlier posting about a cricket match. (3) Which makes this the forth posting involving photos taken on that expedition.

Wednesday July 20 2016

My entire day today was bent out of shape by a cricket match, between Surrey and Hampshire.  Surrey were trying to bowl out Hants and win, but the pitch was a belter and a draw was the likely result all day long.  Nevertheless, every time the day looked like it had died, Surrey took more wickets.  It reached six down, and Surrey were in with a chance.  But then there was yet another long stand, by two Hampshire guys, in a match distinguished by long stands.  The game had begun with a stand of over two hundred by the Surrey openers, and the Surrey first innings ended with another two hundred stand, unbroken, between the Surrey wicketkeeper and the Surrey captain, Gareth Batty.  So today, Hampshire six down, with the game nearly over.

But then, Batty suddenly got a couple more wickets in the same over, bringing his total for the innings to six and his total for the match to eight, and then Stuart Meaker got another, and suddenly Hampshire were nine down.  Could Surrey finish it?  Earlier in the season, they got another side nine down but then got beaten by a big tenth wicket stand, so nothing was done and dusted until it was done and dusted.  But then Meaker got the final wicket, and it was done and dusted.

Just now I did manage a posting at Samizdata, based on some photos I took out in the blazing sunshine of yesterday afternoon.

The two photos I showed at Samizdata were chosen for their content, not their artistic expression.  Here is one of my favourite photos, from the artistic expression point of view, that I took yesterday:

image

Mmmmmm.  Cranes.  And roof clutter.  And The Wheel.

While out and about taking snaps like that, I was also following the Hampshire v Surrey game on my mobile.  When I left my home, Hampshire were nearly all out in their first innings, and Surrey were on course to get them in again and get stuck into their second innings.  But while I was drowning my sorrows in photography, Hampshire’s last wicket pair were frustrating Surrey for the last hour and a half of the day, and Hampshire still hadn’t lost their last wicket at close of play.  This morning, the stand went on, only ending with a run out.  Like I say, this was a match which Surrey always deserved to win, but you never thought they actually would.  And then: they did.

Yesterday, I was opining that you shouldn’t let yourself be at the mercy of popular culture, to the point where you start getting angry about sequels and remakes, in this case the remake of Ghostbusters.  But this is the fate of every true sports fan.  He is at the mercy of events entirely controlled by others, and is doomed to constant disappointment.  But, I suppose, there are enough good days, like today was for me, to make it a satisfactory bargain.

And I really am a true Surrey fan.  While Surrey were piling up the runs on the first day of this game, England were busy being bowled to defeat by Pakistan.  And while this was happening, I was wondering how many Surrey wickets I would surrender to cancel out England wickets.  It turned out: hardly any.

So here, to celebrate, is another photo I took, last year, when I actually went to watch Surrey play:

image

That being Gareth Batty.  Man of the Match, and Surrey’s Man of the Season so far.

LATER: Cricinfo agrees:

Batty was not so much leading from the front as picking up those around him, yapping under the helmet and then getting the job done himself. A century in the first innings began his work before two for 78 in the Hampshire reply was bested by a sensational six for 51 in the follow-on. Throw in Stuart Meaker’s reverse swing addled 18 overs of four for 40, and you wonder where the doubt in obtaining a result came from.

But with 10 overs left in the day, hope had all-but gone. At the end of Batty’s 24th over (56th of the match) he walked duck-footed to mid off, shoulders slunk, cap in hand, dreading what might be. Of all long-form cricket’s gut punches, the handshakes after a drawn fixture take the most out of a skipper who has spent the last few hours on top. And Batty’s side had been ahead for the last three days.

Summoning one last push, Batty returned to take two in his next over. Lewis McManus, having started the day with bat in hand, looked like he would finish it, too. But, after six hours and 21 minutes of crease time across both innings, he was finally dismissed to a fast arm ball. Three balls later, Andrew’s outside edge was found with a perfect off spinner. It was left to Meaker to finish things off. Late movement into the right hander did for Gareth Berg, before Mason Crane was the recipient of a bouncer that would haunt the most weathered opening batsmen, let alone a 19-year-old number 10.

Surrey currently sit outside the relegation zone, 10 points away from Nottinghamshire, who have replaced them in the bottom two. Even if Hampshire were to win their game in hand with full bonus points, they would only go one ahead of Surrey. It bears reiterating: rarely will you see a side work so hard to achieve a four day win of this magnitude.

Read the whole thing.

Tuesday July 19 2016

Indeed.  Photoed by me this afternoon:

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I remember enjoying the original Ghostbusters, because of its pro-free-market political angle.  This piece explains this political angle well.

Mostly what I think about all the feminism in this latest iteration, and of all those complaining about the feminism, is that you don’t own works of popular entertainment just because you liked them when you were young.  If you like the original but not the new one, then ignore then new one and watch the old one again.  It is very childish to get all steamed up about your childhood memories being mucked about with, if they have not actually been mucked about with.  I mean, the original Ghostbusters survives, and has not in fact been in any way tampered with.

LATER: The Original Ghostbusters: A Free Market Gem

Sunday July 17 2016

I was out and about this evening, near to where I live, to do some shopping and to enjoy a late burst of sun.  And took this snap on the way home, in Vauxhall Bridge Road, looking across the river towards Battersea, where this tower now dominates:

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The sun was, as anticipated, making its presence felt, but I didn’t realise that the moon would put on such a show.  To line this up, all I had to do was walk down Vauxhall Bridge Road.  I know, I know, a better camera would have done better.  True.  But I still like what I got.

Soon, this view will be looking rather different.  No more splendid isolation for this Big Thing either (see below).

Saturday July 16 2016

Indeed:

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For reasons of my own I have been digging into the photo-archives.  This was taken on July 1st 2004.  No Cheesegrater.  No Walkie-Talkie.  No lots of Things.

Don’t you just hate how Modern Architecture blocks out the view of the Gherkin?

Friday July 15 2016

Yesterday I was out in the depths of the countryside, and I snapped a bird.  Birds are not good at moving their beaks out from behind greenery, just because you tell them to, but even so, I quite liked this snap in particular:

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And I think it works even better in close up, thereby making its eyes more clearly visible:

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I have absolutely no idea what brand of bird that is, and I certainly don’t know its science name.  Anyone?

So, where was this particular depth of the countryside?  Well, actually, it was up on my roof:

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That being the entrance to the roof from the staircase that I share with my big pile of neighbours.  The countryside is that green bit behind it.  I have to be careful to keep that door open, because if it swings shut, I’m trapped up there.

So, I wasn’t in the depths of the countryside yesterday.  But the light was magnificent up there on my urban roof, early in the morning, and then in the late afternoon.  Although I promise nothing, I hope to prove this with more snaps, Real Soon Now.

Re the feline aspect of things, remember that caracal, the one that was killing penguins.  Well, they’ve caught it.

And see also this Samizdata posting by Perry de Havilland, about the cats of Istambul.

[N]ever have I seen a city with more cats.

Perry visits Turkey.  Military coup follows immediately.  Coincidence?  Well actually, yes.

Thursday July 14 2016

Indeed:

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The Park in question is Finsbury, the Park Theatre being near to Finsbury Park, and more to the point from my point of view, Finsbury Park tube station.  I was there last night to see a friend perform at the Park Theatre, which she did very well.

That LIFE sign thing is just outside the smaller theatre space, where my friend was performing, at the top of the rest of the theatre.  I do not know why it is there.  Could it be that they hope that people will photo it, and then mention the Park Theatre on the internet?

I suppose the creator of this sign could also have been thinking of that old Blur tune.  But that, I believe, concerns a different park.

Wednesday July 13 2016

I continue to photo London’s black cabs and their adverts, particularly when they are entirely not black, because of being covered in a big taxi-shaped advert.

Here, for instance, is an unblack cab that particularly caught my eye, in Oxford street around a week ago:

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What strikes me about this image …:

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… (and oh look, I managed to save the picture without all the website verbiage on top of it), is that London looks … well, see the title of this. 

The way the website puts a logo of Principal Tower in the middle of that picture makes it look like Principal Tower is right in the middle of all this foggy drama.  Actually it’s way off to the left, near Broadgate Tower, beyond Liverpool Street Station.

As for this looking like Dubai, I have in mind pictures of Dubai that look like this:

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I guess there’s something rather appealing about the idea of living in a magic tower which just hovers in the sky, with all that mess below blotted out.  Unless you need to nip out to do some shopping.

Monday July 11 2016

I know what you’re thinking.  You’re thinking that there I was, making my first visit to the Tate Modern Extension, and photoing from the top of it: Big Things, cranes, roof clutter, bridges, churches dwarfed by modernity, and so forth and so on, but I made no mention of other photographers.  Did I perhaps ignore them?

Oh no.

This was the first picture I took of the new building when we arrived in its vicinity, not of the whole building, but of some people at the top of it, taking photos:

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And when I got to the top myself, I was keen to photo more of my fellow photoers, and I did:

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The first and last of those nine photos are of people taking photos of the building.  All the others are, as you can surely see, of people taking photos from the building, from that excellent top level aperture.

Almost entirely smartphones.  I didn’t pick them out that way.  That’s just how it turned out.  The only non-smartphone camera is in the top picture, the one taken from the ground, and even he has a smartphone snapper next to him.

Sunday July 10 2016

I remember the time well.  It was when I first had a really nice camera, and I explored the banks of the River Thames, finding all manner of things that I never knew existed until I chanced upon them, camera in hand.  This statue of Lord Nelson, for example, which is outside a pub called the Trafalgar Tavern, in Greenwich, which I encountered in July 2007:

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The www offers two sorts of pictures of this statue.  There are the ones that show his face and medals, with the Trafalgar Tavern behind his Lordship, often with the word Trafalgar carefully included.  And there are the views from behind, like mine, which provide a modern background, in the form of the Docklands towers or the Dome.

I did take a front view of this statue, but it was totally ruined by my shadow blasting its way into the middle of the picture.  The fact that I didn’t bother to retake that shot tells you that I preferred the modern background shots.

Saturday July 09 2016

There are some excellent photos of the new Tate Modern Extension to be found here, this one being number 3 of the big pictures at the top of that posting:

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As that picture shows very well, they’ve stuck a big lump onto the back of the Original Tate Modern, which is the Big Thing with the big tower on the left as we look.  Tate Modern itself calls this new lump, on the right, the “Switch House”, which may or may not catch on as the real name of this thing.  We shall see.

The new lump is a sort of cross between a modernistic erection from the Concrete Monstrosity era of Modern Architecture and a Crusader Castle.  The structure is concrete, but the surface is brick, just like Original Tate Modern.  And very handsome it looks, to my eyes.  Those thin windows suggest to me people who want to be able to fire arrows at you, while being much harder to hit themselves.  An appropriately belligerent metaphor for the still somewhat fraught relationship between Modern Art and the surrounding culture.

What that set of pictures at Dezeen does not wallow in is what you can see from the new Tate Modern Extension, and especially from that bigger opening at the top, the one without glass.  That is indeed what it looks like from below.  It is a viewing gallery.  I never quite believe arrangements like that until I have personally sampled them.  What will it cost?  Do you have to book?  Is there a lot of airport security crap to get through?  Etc.  But all the answers were good.  It’s free, there is no security theatre to contend with, and the viewing gallery was everything that it promised to be.

I was up there with GodDaughter 2 last Sunday afternoon, and trying not to ignore her completely.  Plus, the place was about to close.  So I was very much in we’ll-look-at-it-when-we-get-home mode.  But I got some good snaps, which at least inform you of the sorts of views you get up there, even if they don’t always hit the spot for artistic impression:

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Big Things.  Cranes.  Roof clutter.  Bridges.  Churches dwarfed by modernity.  BMdotcom heaven, in other words.  Click at will.

LATER: Or, even better (much better actually), click on this.