Brian Micklethwait's Blog
In which I continue to seek part time employment as the ruler of the world.Home
Katherine James on Cricinfo just said it didn't rain in Port Elizabeth on February 24th until after lunch
Alison Hendricks on Feline ephemera
A Cowardly Citizen on "In order to comply with Google's regulations ..."
Darren on The good done by the Apple Newton
Darren on Don't judge a new technology by its first stumbling steps
Michael Jennings on The good done by the Apple Newton
Brian Micklethwait on I think I may at last have found myself a sofa
Tatyana on I think I may at last have found myself a sofa
Katherine James on A new Morrisons is opening in Strutton Ground next Monday
Katherine James on 3D printed baby in the womb
Most recent entries
- Quota quote
- Cricinfo just said it didn’t rain in Port Elizabeth on February 24th until after lunch
- Christopher Seaman on conducting
- Under Blackfriars Bridge
- Feline ephemera
- The good done by the Apple Newton
- 3D printed baby in the womb
- A new Morrisons is opening in Strutton Ground next Monday
- Ashes Lag recovery continues
- A Bitcoin vending machine and a Lego photographer (and a Lego Hawking)
- “In order to comply with Google’s regulations …”
- Blue wind
- Don’t judge a new technology by its first stumbling steps
- Me trying to tell Norman Foster and Richard Rogers apart
- I think I may at last have found myself a sofa
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6000 Miles from Civilisation
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Category archive: Food and drink
That at any rate is the date that all the workers working on it have given me, when I asked them:
Although, I suspect that the word “local” is supermarketese for “half as expensive again as you would like”. Fair enough, their gaff their rules. And it all helps. Even if the only consequences are that the other local late-night stores drop their prices by a few pennies and keep their milk a bit colder, well, every little helps.
But then again, see the picture on the left where it says “Great OFFERS” three times over. So, maybe the downward price pressure radiating from this new place will be quite substantial.
I also think it’s a very smart move to feature the opening time very prominently on the front. No matter how often I am told which shop stays open until when, I forget, and 6am-11pm every day is nice and easy.
The shops that are being replaced by this Morrisons are (a) a Jessops camera shop, and (b) a remainder bookshop. Both replaced by the internet, presumably. But, if you are caught short for sugar or coffee or cheap wine at 10.30pm, the internet doesn’t do it.
When I saw this camel, this afternoon, in Station Approach Road, on my way to meet someone in Waterloo Station, I was baffled. I photoed it, but I was baffled:
But now, through the magic that is the www, I can tell you that this camel is to be found round the back of a pub in Lower Marsh, called the Camel & Artichoke. I walk past this pub a lot, on my way to Gramex, in Lower Marsh, but had never really registered that its name involved a camel, or that when I saw the camel, I was round the back of this pub.
Blog and learn. Photograph and learn.
Yes, it’s another posting about photographing London’s Big Things from a high up place.
On July 27th of last year, I found myself at the top of Kings College, London, and a week later I posted a few of the photos I managed to take from that vantage point.
Many of the photos I took looked like this:
In other words, general, semi-panoramic views, just hoovering up whatever was there to be seen, to be looked at in more detail later.
But after taking that photo, I realised that this view included what looked like another very promising vantage point:
When I got home, I did some googling, and found out that this place must be the Radio Bar at the top of the ME Hotel. The ME Hotel is at the westerly spike of the Aldwych semi-circle, so to speak.
Here is another good picture of this place, and of the kind of views that may be had from it.
So, I had a go at visiting this soon after finding this out, in August, but there was a queue, and I am not good with queues. Queues mean waiting in the queue, and also mean that when you finally get there, there will be lots of people in the way of my photographing, and worse, that they may be in a hurry to get rid of you (especially if you are a photographers), rather than glad to see you. So, I decided to try it again when the weather was nice, but colder.
And recently, on January 25th, I did this. Me being me, I took lots of views, and lots of views with fellow digital photographers taking shots of the views:
I also cranked up the zoom, and took lots of views like this:
This Radio Bar is one of the very best places I know of to look out over London.
With views that touch the clouds and include Tower Bridge, the Shard, London Bridge, Saint Paul’s Cathedral, Tate Modern, Somerset House, Southbank, London Eye, Houses of Parliament, and the theatre district of Covent Garden, the rooftop bar at the ME London raises the bar on the enjoyment of social life whilst having a drink in the lounge.
Boastful but fair, although I think I marginally prefer, for the way it is laid out, One New Change. But the views from this new place are an order of magnitude better.
On January 25th, I purchased not just the one over-priced (actually a blazing bargain, given what I was really buying) drink, but, after I had finished taking snaps, another.
I returned to the ME Radio Bar just over a week ago, but … later.
This was one of many pictures I took this afternoon, following a most agreeable and tasty lunch at the Windmill, courtesy of Michael Jennings:
A classic church dwarfed by modernity. And off the top of the picture there is more modernity that I did not include, a lot of it being what used to be called the NatWest Tower, or Tower Something Numerical, as it’s now called. It took me a while to hunt down this particular church, but I finally found it.
In the foreground, Blackfriars Station, the one on the bridge.
On November 24th, which by my calculations is around seven weeks ago, I did a posting entitled Happiness is Gold Blend at only £3 instead of £4.50.
Today, also in Sainsbury’s, I found that my pleasure was not diminished:
I was just coming to the very final end of the stash I had purchased on November 24th, since which date, Nescafe Gold Blend has been stuck at £4.50. Until today.
Small pleasures. Including the pleasure of having bought exactly the correct amount, to tide me over until the next price reduction.
Occasionally I visit my two favourite electronic toy stores, Maplin’s and PC World, both in Tottenham Court Road, much of the reason they are both favourites being that I can visit both in one easy go, by walking down Tottenham Court Road from Warren Street, which is an easy ride from my nearest tube, Pimlico.
On my latest visit to PC World, I spied a 3D printer, looking rather forlorn and ignored, under a big sign saying SALE:
Around its base, you can just about make out various pointless florescent yellowy-green objects – semi-fish sculptures, very untrustworthy receptacles, ugly and uncomfortable bodily adornments, replacement chess pieces, and the like. These objects come out badly in a photo of my sort because of their flourescence, which changes them, from regular objects with shapes and shadows into feeble and rather shadowless (and hence also rather shapeless) light bulbs.
As you can probably just about make out, for the privilege of owning this absurd device, you are asked to part with £1,195, although my bet is that a near offer might well suffice.
The domestic 3D printer, as I foresaw (that’s a Samizdata piece posted a year and a half ago), has so far been a classic dog-that-hasn’t-barked. Will it ever? That will require a killer app - objects easily and repeated made with a domestic 3D printer for a few pennies, not easily obtainable by just buying them, … and for the life of me I cannot think of such an object. Ornamental food is my best shot. Something hot, or maybe cold, which makes it hard to buy, even locally. No doubt someone will think of something, and then 3D printing will erupt into popular affection and derision the way it hasn’t at all so far.
As Samizdata commenter Shirley Knott said:
I, for one, expect to be taken by surprise.
Domestic printers were different, even when at their most primitive, e.g done with mechanised typewriting with ribbons or with little alphabet balls – or with big ugly dots. Bits of paper, different every time but in the same format, saying different things each time but with the same black gunk every time, well, that’s a very useful process to have on tap. A relentless supply of flourescent semi-fish, forget it.
Nevertheless, as other Samizdata commenters make very clear, 3D printing is already a huge contributor to the regular manufacturing economy, just as computers were, long before they also went domestic.
Someone should, as stated in the piece at the other end of the link, apply (better) 3D printing to this, and I bet someone is doing this, even as I blog.
I just googled (images) 3d printing architectural modelling. Wow.
For about one second this posting appeared here. But then I realised it could just as well go there. So, there it went.
One of the jobs of random blogs like this one is recommend such things as restaurants. This is one of those postings. If you read no further, just know that I recently dined at La Porte des Indes, and I liked it. It’s just a short walk away from Selfridges in Oxford Street, where a friend had been working. Address: 32 Bryanston Street.
So, to the details of why I liked it. One: the food was very tasty. Always a good start. And while we were waiting, they gave us little plastic cups of soup, also very tasty.
However, although I like the way tasty food tastes, I now unable to consume very much food all at once. Perhaps I am lucky, because being unable to eat too much, I am not becoming as fat as I might otherwise become, what with so much of the food I do eat being junk.
But there is a way in which I am often unlucky, which is when I am dining out. Often, I just can’t manage to eat all that I am paying for.
So it is that a service I especially value is when I am allowed to take my leftovers away with me. A restaurant willing to package up all my delicious but indigestible leftovers will now have a special place in my heart, and stomach.
La Portes Des Indes was not cheap, when I and a friend dined there about a fortnight ago. But I still remember the delicious taste of the chicken, the pain of realising that my stomach would not be able to do it justice, and the small translucent plastic carton they used to put my spare chicken in, so that I could eat it later. I’ve had bags made available in such circumstances before, but never a plastic carton.
I paid about twice what I usually want to pay when dining out, but I also dined twice over, once in the restaurant, and then again back home, the next day.
The place looks great as well. The outside is unprepossessing, like a fast food joint at the bottom of an office block. But when you step inside, it’s like you’ve entered the restaurant equivalent of the Tardis. It’s really big. It used to be a dance hall, so they said. And the décor has been preserved from that era and added to, rather than stripped out and replaced with modernistic dreariness. Plus, the ambient noise was not too loud and we could hear each other talk without any shouting. Crucial, for me. I often leave things early for this one reason.
It is interesting how the prices of basic supermarket products now seems to fluctuate rather more than they used to. My last stash of Gold Blend also cost £3 a go, for two. Today, I bought three of these packets. For the last few weeks it went up to £4.50, and I held off, waiting in hope of a price drop again. Today, I was nearly out and would have to buy some, no matter what the price. But, glory be, it was down to £3 again.
Could these fluctuations be a consequence of containers? Is it that containers have made supplies of things like branded coffee less continuous, more prone to famine or feast? And are we now enjoying a capitalist version of what happened under communism, in which suddenly a rumour would fly around Moscow saying that a consignment of meat had arrived, and immediately the queues would form. With us, the news that Gold Blend is on offer at Sainsburys flies around on our mobile phones, or in this case is featured on my blog, at which point it’s first come first served.
Or is it merely that logistics geniuses, armed with super-computer-networks, are now able to do sums about the precise prices they need to charge at any particular moment for any particular thing, in order to make maximum use of scarce warehouse and store space? If you get my meaning.
Or maybe it’s a bit of both?
Michael Jennings presumably knows the answer to these questions, because Michael Jennings (see the first two of these comments) knows everything .
Time for an I-told-you-so moment.
I told the Australians not to rouse the kitten:
Darren Lehman may have made a bit of a mistake, when he called Broad a cheat for not walking when Broad was clearly out and should have been given out, and said that Australian crowds should have a go at Broad in the Ashes series this winter in Australia. Lehman was only joking, but it was a joke he may regret.
But they went ahead and roused the kitten anyway. Here is George Dobell reporting on Day One of the Ashes:
Rubbished, ridiculed and reduced - the front page of one Australian tabloid dubbed Broad a “smug pommy cheat” on the morning of the game - England, and Broad in particular, arrived with abuse ringing in their ears.
Broad, it was claimed by an Australian media stoked by their national coach, was little more than a medium-pacer whose disregard for the rules shamed him, while England’s batsmen were running scared of Australia’s pace attack.
But instead of wilting in the cauldron of the “Gabbatoir”, Broad appeared to revel in the occasion. Indeed, he even admitted he found himself whistling along as a large section of the crowd chanted “Broad is a w*****.”
This may be no surprise to the England camp. As part of their exhaustive preparation process - a process that was ridiculed at the start of the tour when sections of the Australian media were leaked details of England’s nutrition plans - England’s players were analysed by a psychologist and Broad was one of three who, in his words, “thrive properly on getting abuse”.
“It’s me, KP and Matt Prior,” Broad said. “So they picked good men to go at.
“It was good fun out there. I think I coped with it okay. It’s all good banter. Fans like to come, have a beer with their mates and sing along. I’m pleased my mum wasn’t here, but to be honest I was singing along at one stage. It gets in your head and you find yourself whistling it at the end of your mark. I’d braced myself to expect it and actually it was good fun. I enjoyed it.”
Australia 273-8. Broad, so far: 20 overs 3 maidens 65 runs 5 wickets, including the first four, and including the one truly class act in the Oz top six, Clarke.
Last night, at Chateau Samizdata, I and all others present drank this:
Until last night I did not know that there was any such thing. Well, I knew there was Sauvignon Blanc, but not called that.
Sadly, I failed to properly include the hippo at the top of the label on the left, but you can see plenty of the hippos here, because of course there is a website and you can read all about it.
Clever marketing, I think. The real wine buffs will like it, if they like it, regardless of the name. “Oh yes, it’s actually rather good, you know” blah blah. And the wine unbuffs like me will like it too, because it’s a laugh, and a bit of a tease of wine buffs of the sort who expect wine not to be called such a thing. So, win win.
This is a posting of a type that is likely to become more common here, as the years roll by, because it is about bodily discomfort.
The discomfort today, which lasted all day, came whenever I tried to walk, and was all around my midriff. This was either caused by eating too much junk food, or by the manner in which I slept last night. Perhaps both. Maybe it was not junk food, but rather: too much cheese. The pain is in what I think is called the lumbar region, lumbar being a word I googled with the spelling wrong, making it sound like wood, which tells you that this kind of thing is rather new to me. Google corrected me, like a rude doctor. I hope that tomorrow morning all will be well, but just now that does not feel likely.
The blogging advantage of this particular discomfort is that it is not too undignified or disgusting. I am also beginning to experience discomforts that are very undignified and very disgusting, but these I prefer not to tell you about.
This latter reluctance explains, I think, why the discomforts of old age come as such a surprise to many people. The previous lot of old people only supplied to me a very censored version of what was happening to them, so I now have to find most of this out for myself.
Although, it could be that the previous lot of old people did tell me these things, but I wasn’t paying attention.
The worst thing about it is that you just know it’s going to keep on getting worse, and worse, and worse.
Photos mature with age. The most commonplace snaps can turn into something a bit more interesting, with the passing of time.
Consider this one, one of the very first that I took with my Panasonic Lumix FZ150:
I know. It’s a shop.
But the thing is, it’s now boarded up. That photo was taken in January 2012. In January 2013, this happened:
The administrators to Jessops face a battle to rescue any of the company’s 192 shops after leading camera makers tightened the terms on which they sell products to the company following a downturn in the market.
Rob Hunt, joint administrator for PricewaterhouseCoopers, said: “Without the support of certain people, we are looking at complete closure.”
Jessops has since made a partial return to life, but so far, that Jessops, which is in Strutton Ground, near where I live, has remained shut.
In the years just before it closed it had an unbearably “helpful” shop assistant, who behaved like he’d been on some mad American training course in how to relate to customers. He wouldn’t leave you alone, and instead would engulf you in loud, totally fake bonhomie. I used to browse around in there from time to time, occasionally buying things like batteries and SD cards, and pondering my next camera. But because of this person, I stopped going there. Was I the only one, I wonder?
Talking of Strutton Ground, did you know that the Goon Show first saw the light of day in Strutton Ground? Yes, on the top floor of the pub at the far end of it from me. I saw this in a TV show about Spike Milligan.
I guess that’s probably more interesting than a Jessops closing. I’ll see if I can dig out more photos of things that have changed, that are rather better than that one, taken longer ago.
I used to defer gratification when I was a teenager. Now that I am middle-aged I take it when it presents itself. Not only have the opportunities become rarer and more precious, but the benefits of deferral are always in the future. And my future is getting shorter every day.
“A moment on the lips is a lifetime on the hips.” This equation advises us to forgo the pleasure of tasty but fattening food. It may be good advice when you are 20. But as you age and your hips’ lifetime shortens, the scales begin to tip in the direction of instant labial gratification. No one counts the calories of his last supper.
Those are the first two paragraphs of the first column in a collection of columns entitled Free Thoughts, by Jamie Whyte. All available on line.
I found them while looking for this (about housing subsidies being a bad idea), which is by Preston Byrne. Byrne is my next Brian’s Last Friday speaker (about housing subsidies being a bad idea), this coming Friday, as I’ve already written about on Samizdata.
This time last year I was speculating that Halloween seems to be supplanting Guy Fawkes Night, here in Britain, as indeed it does seemto be. Many reasons for this were suggested by me, and by various commenters. Undoubtedly one of these reasons in that Halloween offers shops more chances to sell stuff, stuff that, thanks to China etc., is now unprecedentedly cheap, compared, e.g., to food.
So it was that the imminence of Halloween announced itself to me a few days ago, in what is basically a food shop, Tescos:
That stuff all looks rather jolly, rather than scary or “spooky” (the claim made on the jars of sweeties), doesn’t it?
Part of the joy of digital photography is that you can photo mad crap like this for free, rather than waste any money, and more to the point space, actually buying it and taking it home.
Later, in the Kings Road, I encountered a much spookier clutch of Halloween stuff, in the window of a shop that specialises in selling “gifts”, unlike Tescos. The Tesco stuff was for kids.
This is more like it:
It was the headless woman having her breasts cradled by the hands of a skeleton that got my attention. But, they surely missed a chance with the blood round her neck. It ought to be dripping down from the bloody stump.
Time for me to ask, yet again: Why are decapitated women in shop windows not creepy?