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

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Category archive: Food and drink

Tuesday September 16 2014

While browsing the archives looking for a photo to have on the front of my computer, combining niceness with not making my stuff invisible, I came across a rather good photo.

The horizontalisation opportunity was too good to miss:

image

Click to get it all.

Not good for the front of my computer.  Too much going on.  No big clear slabs of nothing for computer ikons to be seen against.  But I like it.

It was taken in 2012, from the top of a car park in Peckham.

More shots of and from the same spot, here.

Sunday August 31 2014

The weather in London today was particularly fine.  The light was bright and washed clean by recent rain, and the atmosphere was neither too hot nor too humid.  There was bright blue sky, but there were also plenty of clouds.  I had a bank to visit and electrical items to obtain, all doable on Sunday if you are in Tottenham Court Road, and then I and my companion went south towards the river.

I photoed tourist stuff, hereinafter termed touristuff.  I love to photo touristuff.  It changes from year to year, and it is arranged in hightly photogenic clumps such as you could never enjoy if you merely bought a single touristuff item:

image image

Those queens seem now to be very popular, but popes less so.  But those decapitated lady bottle openers are a new siting, for me.  It’s amazing what can look sexy, even after being guillotined.

I photoed books, under Waterloo Bridge.  Books in large and sunlit clumps, and particular books, with particular titles:

image image

It seems that the Conan The Barbarian books were written not by just the one writer, but by a team of writers.  I did not know this.  I wonder how that was organised.

I photoed Art.  I photoed a lady all in white, photoing Art under the Queen Elizabeth Hall.  That’s if you reckon middle of the range graffiti to be Art.  Is this a possible future for brutalist architecture?  Painting such concrete relics would surely make sense.

And I photoed people sitting on Art, in the form of giant green chairs, next to the Imax Cinema roundabout near Waterloo station

image image

Apparently these big green chairs used to be down in that strange circle of pedestrian space that surrounds the bottom of the Imax Cinema, inside the roundabout.

If my walkabout this afternoon is anything to go by, Art is becoming less about Deep Significance (of the sort that has to be explained with Art Bollocks essays next to the Deeply Significant Art), and more about fun.  Bring it on.

And bring on the day when they have exhibitions of Touristuff in Tate Modern.  I hardly ever go inside Tate Modern, but I bet that would be more fun than what they put there now.  And it might also be more Significant.

Saturday August 16 2014

Before I start ruminating more convolutedly about my recent stay in France, there is just one more shot that I want to show you from that ASI boat trip.

It’s a photo I took of the guy who was driving the boat, and (I presume) the man who was in command of the boat:

image

I can find no mention anywhere here of the actual people who command and work on the boats, just lots of stuff about how great the boats are for partying on.  So I don’t know the name or rank of this man.  But, whoever and whatever he is, I love his look of calm but ever so slightly suspicious watchfulness, with his ever so slightly raised right eyebrow.  It’s the face of a man who knows that, mostly, his job is just a job, but that this is a job that just possibly might, were he seriously to neglect his duties, turn very nasty.

Besides which, you never quite know what those people back there partying might get up to, under the influence of all that drink that the other members of the crew are serving them.  A boat full of tipsy revellers, even more than a normal boat, needs a sober worker to guide it and to see that all is well, no matter how friendly the waters they are travelling on.

There’s something else about this picture that intrigues me.  When I was a kid, wearing short trousers was the essence of being a kid, and graduating to long trousers was the essence of ceasing to be only a kid and starting to grow up.  Yet now, more and more indisputably grownup men, doing their indisputably grownup work, wear shorts.  Anyone care to speculate about what this means, or about why it is happening?

Friday August 01 2014

Trawling through the archives this evening, I came across this fine feline:

image

Photoed by me, in Battersea, about two months ago.

In other cat news, pet cats in Vietnam are being stolen and sold to restaurants.  And not because the restaurants want cats for their customers to mingle with.  Oh no.  This is Vietnam, not Paris.

Back here in evil Britain, hundreds of black cats are being abandoned by their owners because, according to the Daily Mail, these black cats don’t look good in SELFIES (their capital letters):

Today the RSPCA announced a rise in the number of black cats being abandoned by their owners, and attributed it to them not photographing well.

A spokesman for the animal welfare charity said that more than 70 per cent of the 1,000 cats in its care were black, and blamed the trend for people taking pictures of themselves with their phones.

He said: ‘There are a number of reasons for us having so many black cats, including the fact that black animals tend not to photograph as well as other cats with more distinctive markings.

Other cats are also easier to tell apart, he said.

The spokesman added: ‘There is a national problem with rehoming cats of this colour.

‘We really are puzzled as to why this still happens but we would urge people to never judge a cat by its colour and look at its personality instead.’

This story is everywhere.  I sense hostility towards digital photography, and in particular towards the evil practice of taking photos of yourself, an evil practice which now has its own word.

However, a selfie is when you take a photo of yourself.  Owners are including themselves in their cat photos on incidentally.  Often only the cat is in the picture.  These photos are not being taken by cats, so they are not selfies.

Cats don’t take photos of themselves.  If they had been caught doing this, on video for instance, I would definitely have learned about it and passed the news on to you people.  All that is actually going on here is that black cat owners are finding it hard to photo their black cats and are consequently abandoning their black cats, and obtaining other cats, more like the one in my picture above, that are easier to photo.  That’s a wicked enough story as it is, without misreporting it and put your mistake in capital letters.  Socks, Daily Mail.  Pull yours up.

Next up, an Italian shooting champion is on trial for using live cats as target practice.  I sense hostility towards shooting champions, but it may just be towards Italians.

Finally, Cats is being revived, in the Millenium Centre, Cardiff:

The highlight of the evening was the singing which included lots of harmonies ...

Which is what you want.  What with Cats being a musical show, consisting mostly of people dressed as cats, singing, and trying to be harmonious about it.

Rachel Howells continues:

Cats is at the Wales Millennium Centre until Saturday 9th August and includes many matinee showings so you have no excuses not to miss it.

Once again, we see the mainstream media getting their facts in a twist, this time because of faulty grammar.  No excuses not to miss it?  It would appear that, at least when it comes to their online content, the writing and/or editing at the South Wales Argus has gone to the dogs.

Tuesday July 22 2014

I haven’t yet finished showing you photos from that Adam Smith Institute Boat Trip, that I got in on and took lots of photos of, at the beginning of this month, and which I have been showing here, now and again, ever since then.  I’m hardly even close.

For instance, it’s taken me three quarters of a month to get around to it, but, of course, there were other photographers present besides me:

image image imageimage image imageimage image imageimage image imageimage image image

I chose these pictures simply because they fitted the bill subject matter wise, and because they look nice.  I did not choose them to illustrate any particular point about digital photography.

The result being that they do illustrate a particular point about digital photography.  Consider the stats.

There are two regular old school digital cameras to be seen snapping (1.1 and 1.3), three if you count mine.  There is also just the one big tablet being used (3.3). 

All the other photographers are using mobile phones.

Usually, when I photograph photographers, there are more regular old school dedicated digital cameras to be seen.  But this is because I am photographing lots of “photographers”, i.e. people like me, who see themselves as more photography-minded than regular people.

What this boat trip illustrates is how much regular people now use their mobiles to take photos, in among all that networking and connecting and chatting and socialising.  It isn’t so much that mobiles have replaced those tiny, cheap digital cameras, although yes it is that, a bit.  But it is more that mobiles can now take photos, so now they do.  A lot of photos are now being taken that would not have been taken at all, before mobile phones learned how to take photos, by people for whom mobile phones are essential, and photography with mobile phones began only as an extra.

And you can bet that many of the photos that the above people were taking were already flying off into the big www beyond, to work their propaganda magic, promoting the ASI, its Boat Trip, and the people who went on it, before the trip was even over.

Young people these days are quicker off the mark than I am.  That’s their job.  And being slower off the mark is mine.

Saturday July 05 2014
Friday July 04 2014

A while back, I asked Madsen Pirie how it was that the Adam Smith Institute had been so successful in getting young people interested in libertarianism, free markets, and so on.  Simple, he replied.  Have a party, with free drink.  That gets them to come. Start the party by saying that libertarianism and the free market and so on are great but get that over with quickly, and then serve the drink.  That’s it?  That’s it.  Well, there is a bit more to it than that.  The message may be brief on the night, but it needs to be good and it has to be backed up during the day with a mass of sober activity and verbiage.  But, ignore the free drink and you are not understanding the ASI.

This was certainly the formula for this Boat Trip, as you can see:

image image

When I first got there, I chatted with ASI Junior Boss Sam Bowman, and I think I mentioned this give-them-the-message-and-then-fill-’em-up doctrine.  Sam then talked about how the ASI gets ideological bang for its alcoholic buck by buying its own good but cheap drink - good but cheap champagne on this particular evening - in bulk (that being why it’s cheap), and bringing it to events like this.  Which means that lugging big crates of drink around London, from the ASI office to wherever the latest event is is a big part of the life of an ASIer.  Serving alcohol is central to their entire way of going about things.  This is not some sort of afterthought.  Alcohol is to the ASI almost what petrol is to a car.

Drink also makes for good photos, I think.  (The ASI used the one of the table full of glasses, with the tattooed arm.) Nothing says jollification to come like a table full of full glasses, especially if the sun is shining all over them.  And once the punters get their hands on the bubbly, that makes for more good photos, because the bubbles make automatic focussing work so very well.

Wednesday July 02 2014

Yes, looking at those boat trip photos again this morning, I could see that there was plenty there, in among the vastly greater number of duds.

Some jobs you have to get entirely right, like waterproofing a submarine or making an oil refinery safe.  One serious mistake and it all goes pop.

Other jobs have to be done mostly right, but not entirely.  Seven or eight out of ten will suffice.  Nine out of ten will more than suffice.  Trying to get ten out of ten is just tiresome.

But photoing a party with a digital camera is one of those jobs (I’m guessing that selling stuff might be another) where if you get one out of ten then you’ve done fine.  The marginal cost of digital photography being zero, I actually mean, of course, one hundred out of a thousand, the more exact number of shots I took last night being nearer to 850.  Last night all I could see was the 750 pieces of junk.  I remembered what those duff shots were supposed to be, but which they were not.  This morning I took another look, and saw that the news was not all bad.  In other words: it was absolutely fine.

Today I extracted those one hundred good ones into a separate file, stuck them on an SD card and took the card around to the ASI.  They liked them, and up onto Facebook went about thirty of them.  Lots of the photos here were taken by me, and lots of them were not.  I am proud to have helped.  I even got a name check.

I was also lucky to be there.  “TNG” stands, I believe, for The Next Generation.  That hasn’t been me for quite a while.

What seems, judging by the pride of place that the ASI awarded it at Facebook, to have been my shot of the night came right at the beginning, in the form of a group shot of a bunch of the guests assembling, and talking with Madsen Pirie, the one in the blue striped jacket with his back to us.

image

However, in order to avoid any suggestion that this Next Generation consists only of males, here are a couple more shots that I took immediately after that one, also involving those same rather striking shadows.

image image

More to come.  Quite a few more, I hope.

Tuesday July 01 2014

Earlier this evening I attended the Adam Smith Institute boat trip drinks party.  Excellent.  I took about a million pictures, of which disturbingly few looked much use when I got home.  I had a lot more fun taking them than I had looking at them later the same evening.  But maybe this is just another example of the rule that you should always take a day or two before looking at a huge clutch of photos that you had fun taking.  That way you see them as they are rather than as not as good at you remember them.

The main thing that struck me was how much better the pictures of buildings on the banks of the river were compared to the pictures of people in the boat on the river.

I liked this one, though:

image

And oh look, it’s a selfie.  Tomorrow I’m going to try to pick out the ones that might be of some use to the ASI.  I just hope that, in the cold light of day, there are few that qualify.  If that’s so, then it doesn’t matter how terrible all the rest are.

Saturday June 07 2014

Tate & Lyle Park presumably no longer exists.  I wouldn’t know.  I haven’t been there lately.  This posting is partly to remind me to go, again, and check out what is happening there.  It is surely something.

Last time I was there, I photographed two geese. Follow that link and you’ll also find a google maps picture from space on a very clear day of Tate & Lyle Park.  I also took many other photos which I never got around to showing here, including the four that follow.  Here is what Tate & Lyle Park looked like:

image

Below is why Tate & Lyle Park is called (by me anyway) Tate & Lyle Park.  It’s not a park really.  They’ll have built all over it by now.  But on that day I was able to walk right to the river’s edge and photo Mr and Mrs Goose.  I’ll still be able to photo everything though, because the shot above was taken from the nearby D(ocklands) L(ight) R(ailway) railway station, which is above ground and a fine spot for snapping from.

image

Here is a gas holder, on the other side of the river, a photo in the I Just Like It category:

image

Finally, here is another artistic type shot, with a different kind of clutter in it, this time: water clutter.

image

The tall thing in the middle of the picture is one of the towers, then nearing completion and basically needing only the wires and the pods, of the folly known as the Emirates Air Line.  This is notorious for going from somewhere useless to somewhere else equally useless and for the fact that hardly anyone now uses it.

I had a go on this Emirates Air Line or whatever, after the Olympics (Mayor Boris J’s excuse for erecting it) had died down.  It was less fun than I hoped.  It was bumpy and it moves quite rapidly which is terrible for photography, unlike the Wheel which is smooth and slow.  You can’t search out the best photos to take by lining things up, like you can on a railway platform on at somewhere like the top of One New Change.  Instead you just get what you get, often very blurrily.  Plus, the views from it are actually not that much better than they are on the ground in that part of London.  But I’m glad I did the trip.  Had I not, I have continued wondering about how good it is.

Tuesday June 03 2014

In this list of Top10 Rooftop Bars in London is one that is both enticing and new to me.

I know all about the view from the top of One New Change (the first in this list), and very fine it is too.

The view from Radio Rooftop Bar at ME Hotel (number 6) is another that I am now very familiar with.

Sushisamba (number 7) I have here written a memo to self here about, a memo saying I must check this out.  So far I haven’t, but this reminds me that I must.  (The Heron Tower has, by the way, recently been renamed.) From this the Gherkin can be observed from close up.  The trouble with the view from the Gherkin is that from the Gherkin one cannot see the Gherkin.

But, I did not realise that number 3, “Vista at the Trafalgar” was publicly accessible:

image

I think I know of this place, having seen people in it, but I did not know I might be able to go there myself.  So, another memo to self.

I’m sure I’ll be able to take more dramatic snaps than that one, although to be fair to them, they were going for informative rather than dramatic.

Sunday May 18 2014

Instead of doing blogging (until I realised I could combine the two), I am watching an enthusiastic American trying to sell me something called a Go Chef.  The channel is ITV, and the show is The Store.  I am very tempted.  Am I being wise, or foolish?  I bought a big non-stick frying pan off of the telly, and that worked out very well.

And yes, you are right, this is, according to the clock, tomorrow.  But tomorrow begins when I wake up tomorrow morning, not at twelve midnight.  My gaff, my rules.

This video is the kind of thing I am now watching, but no enthusiastic American is involved in this one.

Now, they’re going on about how easy it is to cook rice in the Go Chef.

Beware rice.

It would appear that non-stick ceramics is one of the great areas of technological advance in recent decades.  I remember an excellent cartoon, way back, of a US Space Program Bigshot saying to the guy with him, concerning a nearby rocket that they were walking past: “Yes, this all began as a spin-off from a program to develop a non-stick frying pan.”

Wednesday May 07 2014

For quite a while now, I’ve had a window open (which I would like now to shut and now I can) on these STUNNING PHOTOS OF WHAT THE WORLD LOOKS LIKE FROM THE COCKPIT, and in particular on this photo, which is number 4 of the set, of some houses outside Las Vegas:

image

Visuals can be misleading.  It looks like a prison, or perhaps a military encampment.  People are either being kept in, or it must be possible, as and when, to keep people out.  America, land of the free?  Certainly not.  But neither is the actual story, is it?

Here is another picture from the same set (number 7), of another scene out in the desert near Las Vegas:

image

Put that picture next to the first one, and perhaps you get a true handle on what is going on, in both pictures.  What is being controlled here is not people.  It’s water.  Those golf greens are there because water keeps them green.  There are even a couple of big old artificial lakes.  No water, and everything turns light brown again, and the desert takes back everything.

And the reason the houses are all in a clump like that, rather than scattered around the landscape, is surely also, at least partly, again: water.  All those houses depend on the same centralised water supply.

Two of the other pictures in this set also involve organised water.  Number 1 is an artificial wave pool, in Florida.  And the final picture involves a swimming pool, in Boston.

So, despite the appearance of the first picture, America is a free country.  But it is also a very organised country.

I particularly smile at how that golf course is in a giant ocean of sand, and in it they contrive these elongated artificial islands of green, and then within these green islands, they put smaller bits of artificial desert.  Where else would you see bits of fake desert, in a real desert?

Tuesday April 15 2014

I love this, from AndrewZ at Samizdata, commenting on this piece by Natalie Solent, which quotes a couple of particularly demented pieces of writing in the Guardian, about cupcake fascism (this phrase should never be forgotten) and about the horrors of tourism.  (Natalie has been agreeably busy at Samizdata of late.)

Says AZ:

The online edition of any newspaper that isn’t behind a paywall relies on advertising to generate income and this depends on maximising the number of page views. The simplest way to do that is to publish outrageous and provocative opinions that will attract links from elsewhere and start a blazing row among the regular commenters. The great liberal newspaper of old is now little more than a group blog that trolls its own readers for advertising revenue.

No link from here to the original pieces, about cupcake fascism or tourism.  Oh no.  BmdotCOM is not falling into that trap.

Now that I have read the rest of them, I can report that all the comments at Samizdata on this posting are pretty good and worth a look.

Friday April 11 2014

So I made my way to the Opening Do of LLFF14 earlier this evening, at a bar near Kings Cross Station.  On my way, the light was so good I just had to take some photos.  Not many, but those I did take came out very nicely.  These three were my favourites.  The first is me looking back along Pentonville Road at St Pancras Station.  To think they were once going to knock this down.  The second is just a random piece of domestic architecture.  And the third I took because it looked like it had some rather good cushion type things, such as I might want to buy if I ever get around to making myself a sofa:

image image image

The Do itself was great, until eventually the noise of everyone shouting at each other became more than I could take.  As I said to someone, I couldn’t even hear myself talk.  Not hearing others was bad enough, but when I couldn’t even hear the sound of my own voice, well, there went one of my deepest pleasures in life.  So I left.  That wasn’t a problem.  The main business of LLFF takes place during the day, on Saturday and Sunday, and I will of course return.

On my way from the bar back to Kings Cross tube, I got very lost, despite having my Smartphone with me, with its invaluable map app.  And that was when I noticed something very odd and different about this part of London, compared to where I live.  No helpful signposts, telling you where the nearest tube is, or where Kings Cross or St Pancras Stations are.  I’m guessing because this is a part of town where tourists tend not to go, and most people there just know all that sort of stuff already.  Apart from me.