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: Food and drink

Saturday March 21 2015

Yes, they aren’t playing any squash today.  It’s been rugby rugby rugby all the way.

First Wales knocked up a cricket score against Italy in Rome, and took the lead in the three-way race for the Six Nations.  Then Ireland thrashed Scotland and took pole position.  Now England and France are playing a mad game at Twickenham.  At the moment it’s England 48 France 35.  How mad is that?  It probably won’t be enough, but England are giving it a right old go.  England need about two more tries, I think, and since France are also scoring tries every so often, even that might not be enough.  But.  Five minutes to go, and England have just scored another try.  53-35.  Bloody hell.  This conversion has to go over.  Then they have to score another try and convert that.  Conversion over.  55-35.  It’s on.  It all has the air of been too frantic and unreal to work.  But, maybe.

Trouble is, I’ve got a terrible headache and bunged-up face, and am in almost no state at all to enjoy it all.  Maybe too much Parma ham at Christian Michel’s last night?  That or the cheap white wine.  But, I have most of it on video.

Game nearly over.  England need one more try off, basically, the last play of the match.

No.  England attacking but France hold out.  Whistle.  55-35.  Epic fail.  But epic in a good way.

Wales were favourites after their big win in Rome, but they now have to make do with the bronze.  Ireland win it.  England second.  A great day.

Thursday March 19 2015

Following on from yesterday’s White Van, here is another White Van, which marks the moment when I first started really noticing these things.  It was parked outside an office just round the corner from my front door:

image

Let’s take a closer look at the driver’s door of this White Van.  Because the exact moment when the whole White Van thing clicked inside my head was when I saw, and photoed, this:

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There you go.  They’re having a laugh about White Van Man.  I told you it was a thing.

This happened on December 17th of last year, which was about a month after the Shadow Ministress did her tweet that cost her her shadow job.  But they’ve been driving around in that joke since well before all that, as this blog posting from April of last year proves.

And I know this got me thinking about White Vans, because the very next photos I took were of this:

image

I had been noticing this other White Van hanging around near my home, but until that moment I had not considered it something worth photoing.  Then, I did.  And, off an on, I’ve been photoing such vans ever since, although few of them as lavishly decorated as that one.

Sunday March 15 2015

Last Friday was another of those first days of Spring, which are coming thick and fast now.  Spring has very nearly sprung, in other words.  So, I was out on Westminster Bridge photoing the tourists and their cameras like it was 2006.  Here are my favourites:

image imageimage image

I’ve always been fond of the baglady look, and we see two more examples of the genre there.

For some reason, I feel that a photo of someone holding up a Cool Britannia bag is a lot cooler than a Cool Britannia bag.  And the other baglady, dressed as David Hockney, looks really good in front of all that appetising verbiage, on the food kiosk next to Westminster Bridge at the Parliament end, right near where this photo was also taken.  A favourite spot.

As for the lady in black, I’m not sure whether was actually photoing.  Maybe she was just checking text messages.  I hope she is having a good life.  Here is a recent reminder that burqas can be bad news for those who wear them.

As for the group self-photoing themselves with a selfie stick, it really is time that I gathered up all the selfie-stick photos I’ve taken lately, and posted a group of them here.  (But, I promise nothing.)

The selfie-stick is the latest photoing device to incur the wrath of all of those people who divert themselves by getting wrathful about the newly acquired habits of others, especially when those habits involve photography, and especially when they involve self-photography.  The last such fuss involved using tablets to take photos.

Although, it seems that selfie sticks have been around for a bit longer than you might think.

Monday March 09 2015

Just before Christmas, Goddaughter 2 arranged for the two of us to see and hear a dress rehearsal of a Royal Opera House Covent Garden production of Verdi’s Un ballo in maschera.  This was, for all practical purposes, a performance.  I didn’t much care for Verdi before I went to this event, and I still don’t, but the show was at least notable for the outstanding singing of the lead tenor, Joseph Calleja, a new name to me.  I was extremely happy whenever he was singing.  (He has a blog.) The rest of the show I found somewhat forgettable, mainly because Verdi seems to have been opposed to doing nice tunes that you can remember, unlike my operatic composer favourites, Mozart, Puccini, and Richard Strauss.

But very memorable indeed, almost as good as Calleja’s singing, was the bar we visited afterwards, which is right next to the main performing space.

From the outside the opera house and the bar look like this:

image

The bar being the thing on the left as we look there.

And on the inside, the bar looks like this:

image

The ROH refers to this place as the Paul Hamlyn Hall.  What regular people call it for real I have no idea, but I like it.

I especially like that disembodied clutch of drinkers, suspended up there as if in mid air, but actually in mid mirror.

Here is a closer look at that same feature:

image

I know exactly what is going on here, and how this weird effect is achieved, but still I’m impressed.

A bit of hasty googling has failed to tell me what this place used to be and when it was first built.  I’m guessing it was at first something to do with selling fruit and/or veg, but that’s only a guess.  Anyone?

Friday February 20 2015

Yes, just back from a talk at Christian Michel’s.  Didn’t drink “too much” wine, but did drink a lot, far too much to still be sober.

Cat news?  You want cat news?  Okay, the cat news is that lots of people have got into trouble of various sorts because they have too many cats, or killed too many cats, or something along those lines.  Google “cats” news, and you can find the details for yourselves.

Meanwhile, here is news of a new Big Thing, in London:

image

This is the replacement for the Pinnacle.

Everyone commenting on this is angry about it.  But then, everyone commenting on new Big Things is always angry.  It’s ugly!  It’s a joke!  It’s random!  It’s …

Excuse me while I eat a Sainsbury’s Basics egg bite.  Several, actually.

… something else terrible!

But give it a few years, and we’ll all be complaining about how the next London Big Thing is spoiling the view of this Big Thing.

Wednesday February 04 2015

I’m giving a talk tomorrow evening to (for?) Libertarian Home, and am, as usual when I give a talk, fretting that I am now weeks behind with preparing it.

Today I had a haircut.  The talk will probably be videoed and I am too old to do the tramp look.  It makes me look like a real tramp.  The effect of the haircut was much as it usually is, only instead of the Cary Grant look in the second After picture there, back in 2006, now it’s grey Cary Grant.  With a big bulge under the chin.  And ugly.  And unable to sit cross-legged like that.  More classic BMdotcom fashion analysis here.

Basically, what I am saying is: I’m busy and wish me luck.

Saturday January 31 2015

My Last Friday meeting last night went, from where I sat, very well.  The speaker (Professor Tim Evans) gave a bravura performance.  Not everyone was convinced, and said so, but that’s fine.  That’s a feature, not a bug.

Best all, the exact right number of people attended.  The room was full. Every seat was taken.  Nobody had to stand.

From my personal point of view, the rearranging I did to the furniture set-up turned out beautifully.  From when they resumed at the start of 2013 until last December, these meetings have suffered from the presence of a sort of sideboard thingy, that sticks out from the wall of CDs, to your right as you step into the room.  From this sideboard, drinks and nibbles have been served.  But this didn’t work.  Most people couldn’t easily reach for sustenance during the meeting, and the sideboard broke the circle of seating, in a most ugly and unsatisfactory way.

But last night, food and drink, rather than being stuck away at the side, were instead dispensed from a central table, made of three big plank-like objects bolted together for the evening.  It worked much better, because everyone could then just reach out for their junk food and junk drink, instead of either pining for it in frustration or else traversing the room.

And, the intrusive sideboard thingy was replaced with what God had always intended should be there instead, more CD shelves:

image

There is always room for more shelves.

Details of this sort may seem very foolish, but they are what the craft of hospitality consists of.

imageAnother personal highlight for me was the wine I found at Sainsbury’s in the afternoon.  The only way it could have been improved upon, for my purposes, would have been if it had come from Tesco.

My wine-savvy guests laughed, but were also curious.  Yes, I’ll try a glass, they said, one after another.  And the verdict?  “I’ve tasted worse!” One of them said that in a loud voice, and the others concurred.

The cheapest wine usually costs a minimum of £4 in London, but this was £2.50.  Don’t you just love that it came in a plastic bottle (photoed by me afterwards, empty and with no top).

The attenders were as fine a bunch as I and my speaker have ever managed to assemble, being greatly improved by the presence in our midst of Goddaughter 2 and a couple of her Royal College of Music friends, a soprano and a baritone.  Word is that they had a good time.

I also personally enjoyed both the beginning and the end of the evening.  I always like it when the first person to arrive is a particular friend, rather than someone I only half know and am fretting about impressing, or failing to impress.  And last night the first person to arrive was a friend.

And, I like it when the last few people are also friends, or at least people I am not in any way anxious to be rid of.  Last night, two especially agreeable people (they know who they were) were the last to leave, but not before we had discussed the whole business of the scarcity of sociability, and the consequent possibility that I might, rather suddenly, wish to be alone.  The point is, knowing that I could tell them this without causing offence, I found that I did not want to.  My sociability was running very low, but an ordeal that you can switch off at any moment can often cease entirely from being an ordeal, and so it was last night.  Instead, we had an extremely interesting conversation.  They left in time to catch the last train, having absolutely not outstayed their welcome.

So all in all, everything went very well, for me personally.

Will I have anything to say about the speaker, Tim Evans, and what he actually said? Well, on that, time will tell.  I’m still thinking about that.

Wednesday January 14 2015

Dezeen reports that the Walkie Talkie Sky Garden is now open:

image

Note this:

This feature helped the project win planning permission, despite being outside the City of London’s main skyscraper cluster.

It seems that I am not the only one who believes that new buildings like the Walkie Talkie are good not only because they improve the views by being in the views, but by being a new place to look at the views.

And to repeat, I especially like how the Walkie Talkie looks from a distance.  The point being: it looks, not just like any old anonymous lump, but like the lump that is the Walkie Talkie.  The Walkie Talkie is, just like the Shard and the Gherkin and St Paul’s and Big Ben and the Wheel, recognisable, this being why it needs a special jokey name.  That means that it makes me happy whenever I see it.  It makes me feel at home.  It may not be beautiful exactly (although from nearby I happen to think that it is very beautiful).  But neither is the rest of London beautiful exactly, and I think the Walkie Talkie fits right in.

LATER: Diamond Geezer is way ahead of me.

Friday December 26 2014

The gap between my eyesight and the eyesight of my camera grows and grows with the passing of the years, as my eyes inexorably dim and as my cameras inexorably improve.  Even I can regularly manage quite decent shots with my latest camera.  As a result, I become ever more immobilised by having to choose good ones from the enormous piles of decent shots I often come back with, after a day out.

Yesterday was a bit different.  I went to the home of Michael Jennings for a Christmas Day lunch, picture 1.1 being the most striking thing I saw from out of his front window.  The day was lovely, but the light, though wonderful, was fast fading, so Michael and our mutual lady friend and I went out for a short (by my photographic standards) walk to take advantage of it.  Which meant that I took, by my standards, only a few pictures.  Which made it easier to choose and stick up a few half decent ones.

image imageimage imageimage image

Picture 1.2 is my favourite of these.  Thank God for London’s religious diversity.  Much as I loath what Islam says in its holy scriptures, and much as I am critical of people who go through the motions of worshipping these writings, either because they truly believe what those writings say (very wicked), or because they don’t but think that they it doesn’t matter or that they must (also wicked – yes, I mean you, Moderate Muslims – stop saying that you believe stuff that you also say that you don’t believe), I do like that having Muslims in London keeps shops open and taxis running on days like Christmas Day.  Michael fixed a couple of Uber taxi rides for me, and both the drivers had Muslim sounding names.

I don’t know what the church is in 2.1 but it looks pretty behind that leafless tree.  And Tower Bridge always looks pretty to me.

Re those two Tower Bridge shots, I’ve always liked how digital cameras do the opposite of the human eye, and turn urban skies bluer and brighter as they actually get darker.  It’s all those orange-coloured artificial lights, burning relatively brighter as the sun sinks, together with the actual darkness on the ground, impinging upon the Automatic setting.

Tuesday December 16 2014

Photoed by me earlier in the month, outside Green Park tube station:

image

Is this fair?  Publicising these two face-recognisable guys, after they’ve had a hard day hard selling something that looks like it was a rather hard sell?  Well, they’re in uniform, a uniform donned precisely to attract attention, which is what I am giving them.  They are public figures.  Insofar as they are rather letting the uniform down, that too is a public matter.

They remind me somewhat of Dan Aykroyd’s drunk Santa in Trading Places.

In this clip, Aykroyd (a) answers questions about Trading Places, and then (b) plugs his vodka-in-a-skull-bottle.  Really.

Quote:

“Love Capitalism.”

Yes.

I am, however, puzzled by those strange looking marks in the wall, at the top of the picture.  Anyone?

Saturday December 06 2014

As earlier promised, a selection of the better photos I took at that Adam Smith Institute Christmas Party:

image image imageimage image imageimage image imageimage image image

Click to get them bigger.  If you want to recycle these photos, please feel free, with or without gratitude to me.  Email me (see top left where it says “Contact") if you’d like any of them bigger.

Tuesday December 02 2014

Defence Minister Michael Fallon addresses the throng at the Adam Smith Institute Christmas Party, earlier this evening:

image

More to follow.

Sunday November 23 2014

Yes, I think so.  Shot by me last Easter time:

image

If Hitchcock had ever made a movie called “The Rabbits”, this is the kind of shot that would have been in it.

So, a while back, I copied that shot over into the I Just Like It directory, all the time lamenting that I had no idea what the rabbit was doing in that particular part of London.  I still don’t really know, but today I found a picture that I had taken one minute earlier, from which the rectangle below was cropped, in a way that removed people, kept the rabbit, and also kept the writting underneath the rabbit:

image

“London Eye presents Bunnies on the Run” proved more than enough to get an answer from Google, but really, I am none the wiser.  Were there other bunnies dotted around London that I could have photoed?  Who knows?

But, I do like my bunny photo.

Thursday November 13 2014

Complicated day today, and then a complicated evening this evening, trying - and almost totally failing - to record a succession of tv shows each of which ended just as the next was starting.  Luckily, the ones I screwed up will be repeated during the next few days.  But, no thought of blogging until now.

So, one from the I Just Like It subdirectory.  I’m on the south side of the River Thames, and I think I’m quite close to that bridge that now has a station on it.

image

Yes it’s a shadow selfie, involving very colourful food which contrasts well with the drab surroundings and the drab shadow of drab old me holding the food.

Taken in May 2006.

Friday October 31 2014

First, what’s going on in this picture?  What’s weird about it?  How did I contrive the weirdness?:

image

Hint: One of the categories for this posting is “Computer graphics”.  Another hint: I like reflections.

Second, what’s the Feline Friday connection in this photo, taken earlier this week outside the Tower of London?

image

Hint: There is also a clue to this one in the categories list.

If nobody else supplies the answers, I will!  Only by refusing to read these answers will you be able to escape them.