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Friday August 31 2018

Today I had in mind to tell you about the dragons that adorn the Great Pagoda in Kew Gardens, which is the Pagoda from the top of which you can see the Big Things of London.

But I spent today paying attention to cricket, and fretting about whether enough people would attend my Brian’s Last Friday Meeting, that happened earlier this evening, so I did not manage to say anything here about the above mentioned dragons.  Too complicated.

Now that it is late evening, and the meeting has successfully concluded (thank you Vera Kichanova, terrific), I only have time and energy to tell you about these two particular dragons, which are inflated and made of plastic:

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What these inflated plastic dragons tell you is that Kew Gardens, in addition to being a place of Outstanding Scientific Interest, is also what is now called a Visitor Attraction.  A place, in other words, to which children are glad to go to rather than rebellious about being made to go.  And there is nothing like friendly inflated plastic dragons with goofy smiles on their faces to make children feel welcome.

I, meanwhile, have no particular objection to visiting a Visitor Attraction.  Before I had a digital camera, I used to be snobbish about going to places which other people in large numbers also liked.  But since acquiring my first digital camera (I am now on about my seventh) and since acquiring the hobby of photoing other digital photoers, I find that my former distaste for Visitor Attractions has melted away.  The more people there are at a particular spot (and if they can bring their children without their children objecting, there will be more people) the more chance there is that there will be people photoing, and that makes me happy.

So: hurrah for the inflated plastic dragons of Kew Gardens.  Which I also quite like myself.

Thursday August 30 2018

Today, in search of something worth displaying here, I chanced upon a directory of photos of photoers who were to be seen holding more than one camera.  I gathered these photos together some time in 2010, but then never got around to doing anything with them.  Almost all of these photos seem to have been taken in and around Parliament Square and Westminster Bridge, my most usual locale for photoing photoers, then as now.

Here are some of them now:

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These photos all date from 2005 and 2006.  I was not as fussed about hiding faces in those faraway times, but as you can see, I was making some effort in this direction, at any rate enough of an effort to give me plenty of faceless photoers, so to speak, to choose from.

As to why these ladies are holding another camera, this was usually because they were in a group, and were helping to ensure sure that each photo-op was registered in every camera owned by anyone in the group, and in particular that each camera owner had a decent number of photos of themselves.  (In the above photos, in other words, we are often observing selfies being taken.) Often, I would photo ladies (ladies especially seem to hunt photos in a pack) who were taking the same photo two or even several times, with two or several cameras, one after the other, with the inactive cameras hanging down from them in a clump.  Sadly, there are no ladies to be seen here with more than two cameras on the go.

Often one of the group would ask me to take a photo of all of them, with one of their cameras, and sometimes with more than one in succession, so that they had at least one photo or some photos with everyone included.  It’s all I can do to make any sense of my own cameras, let alone anyone else’s, but I would usually do my best.

It could also be that some of these ladies are taking photos with cameras supplied to them by absent friends or partners.  Remember, in these faraway times, communicating photos from this camera to that camera was harder than it is now, and if doable, a lot more cumbersome.  How much easier for it to get my desired photo in my camera, even if I myself didn’t take it!

Wednesday August 29 2018

I did a posting about a Big Thing Alignment that I saw when I went with Darren to that cricket match at the oval, and I did a posting about how the last ball of that game looked, two days later, on video.

Now for some more photos I took on the day Darren and I went to day 2 of that game between Surrey and Lancashire.

The very first photo I took that day was this:

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I love how, in the middle of that big photo, we see one of those excellent You Are Here signs that you see all over London, and in many other spots, I don’t doubt, in not-London.  I really like these signs, and constantly photo them, if only to remind me for later of exactly where Here was at that particular moment.

Of this OCS stand, SteelConstruction.org has this to say:

This is a most appropriate use of steel, in a geometrically complex arrangement, which adds drama and visual excitement to a famous venue.

I was hoping that this OCS Stand, would be as open for people to sit in as it was in the above photo photo, because I have yet to experience the views from the top of that stand, surely as dramatic in their own ways as the stand itself. But on the evening when Darren and I were there, the OCS Stand was shut.  Shame.  Memo to self: I will photo these views.  If I have to make a special trip to the Oval just to ask about that, fine, I’ll do it, and keep on doing it, until they let me up there, preferably on a nice day.

Here is that OCS Stand, as it was looking at the second interval of the day, which happened not long after we got there:

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That photo makes the ground look pretty dark, even though the floodlights were on.  And it does not deceive.  The ground did indeed look dark, to the human eye.

Here is the Pavilion that faces the OCS Stand, which is where we soon moved to:

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Some like ancient, and dislike modern.  Others dislike ancient, and like modern.  Me?  I like both, and particularly like it when they are near each other, or (as in this case) facing each other, and I can relish the contrast.

One of the particular charms of cricket grounds – this being especially true of the two big London grounds, the Oval and Lord’s – is that they feature both (fairly(at least in style)) ancient, and (very) modern architecture.  In comparison,.I find big stadiums built all in one go very dull.  I went to a football game at Wembley, and if it hadn’t been for the big arch on the top of it, it would have been totally anonymous.  It’s not just the architectural uniformity.  It’s also that in a place like Wembley there are no gaps, and you can’t see anything except the stadium.  You could be anywhere.

Darren and I, what with Darren being a Surrey Member, sat in those
seats at the top, in the middle, and when you look out from there, across at the OCS Stand and to the left and the right of it, you couldn’t be anywhere but London.  Here is another view looking to the right, which includes that earlier Big Thing Alignment and several other random Big Things besides:

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And here is the view to the left, towards Battersea, where the new US Embassy, just up river from MI6, has detonated a building boom:

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But forget the US Embassy.  The reason I am showing you the above photo is to tell you how very dark the ground had become.  Forget playing cricket.  How on earth can you even see anything on that cricket pitch?

But seeing things on that pitch soon became very easy.  Quite soon afterwards, observe how very light the ground had become:

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The floodlights were blasting away in both of those photos, not just in the second one.  Yet, in the first, they were being totally outshone by the paltry remnants of daylight.  Only when daylight had seriously dimmed did the floodlights suddenly start to make their presence felt.  And even then the sky is still quite light, especially down near the horizon.

I have been to the Oval quite a few times, but don’t recall witnessing the extremity of this contrast ever before.  I think it helped that we were looking down on the ground from quite a height, onto the brightness of the ground.  But basically, I’ve never been there when it was properly dark before.

The reason the above photo, especially of the people near me to the left, looks like it was taken with flash is because there is another big clutch of floodlights coming crashing into us from off to the right, very nearby.

Finally, here are a couple of photos I took just after arriving at the ground, through the Hobbes Gate, which is behind the Pavilion, on the far side of the Oval from the river, and from me:

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One of the more agreeable features of London’s big two cricket grounds - Lord’s especially - is the number of giant photos there are on show, of cricketing heroes present and past.  It was the same when I visited White Hart Lane a while back.

Here is a closer-up snap of the Surrey ladies captain, Natalie Sciver:

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Sciver lead her team to victory on Bank Holiday Monday in the ladies T20 national tournament.  Her Surrey “Stars” beat “Western Storm” in the one semi-final, and then won the final against Loughborough “Lightning”.  Lizelle Lee got a century for Surrey in the final, but she got good support from Sciver, and Sciver excelled with both bat and ball in the semi-final, which was a lot closer.

I am fond of emphasising how sport has replaced war in the world’s luckier and richer countries.  Long may that trend continue.  What these giant pictures emphasise, or so it feels to me, is the local significance of big sports clubs, and the way that, in terms of how these places feel close up, sport is also busy replacing religion.  This is especially true now that the other great modern challenger of religion in this kind of way, the cinema, is fading back into a merely domestic past-time.  The elaborate imagery.  The regular attendance at an architecturally impressive locale.  The shared agonies and ecstasies of the assembled congregations.  The way that the calendar is carved up into a distinct pattern.  To me, it all feels very religious, and I am certainly not the only one to have noticed this.  (That link took only seconds to find.)

The Church of Cricket is, I quite realise, but a small sect, these days, at any rate in England, compared to the Universal Church of Football.  But the point about sport replacing religion in modern life still stands.

Tuesday August 28 2018

Busy day today.  All I can think of to say this evening is that Michael Jennings thinks that this is really nice, and that I agree with Michael.

But what if the thing that the sun is moving around is also moving?

Monday August 27 2018

It was a moment in London’s construction history which has always intrigued me.  My photos of it were taken in March 2012:

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That’s right.  Those strange ghost columns were, for a few short months or years (I don’t recall), being used as so many tiny building sites, supporting the construction of the Blackfriars Bridge railway station.

I regret that some more permanent use could have been found for these ghost columns.  Maybe some sort of pedestrian bridge?  But I suppose these columns are distrusted for anything but the lightest use, such as we observe in the above photos.

If you read this, you will learn that these ghosts used to come in threes, rather than in the twos we observe now.  The inner columns became part of the new bridge.

But if those columns were good enough to do that job, why cannot their brethren be made more use of?

It seems a shame.  It seems like a missed opportunity.

I think I may have said something like this here before.  So be it.  It bears repetition.

Sunday August 26 2018

June 8th of this year was a good day for roof clutter.  In Pimlico:

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It’s the variety I like, and the mixture of the ancient (the chimney pots (including some quite superior ones)) and the modern (aerials), that I like.  The chimney pots are often very decorative on purpose, while the more modern technology is only decorative as a throw-away consequence of how it needs to be to do its various jobs.

In one of them, there is scaffolding.

It helped, at lot, that the weather was so nice.  In my opinion, almost anything looks good in really nice weather,

Saturday August 25 2018

Yesterday, GodDaughter 2 and I spent the afternoon in Kew Gardens.  Which is a lot bigger and a lot bigger of a deal than I realised.

The high point of our day, literally as well as metaphorically, was our visit to the Great Pagoda.  And not just the Great Pagoda in a general way.  We climbed up the stairs to the top of the Great Pagoda.

There were views, of which this one was, of course, my favourite:

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Here is variant of that same view.  Note how the lighting has changed somewhat.  The Walkie Talkie remains as as strikingly lit as ever, and it remains the star of the show, but the Wheel is a bit different (as is the Waterloo Crane Cluster that reaches up above it). It was one of those bright intervals with scattered showers days:

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I know what you’re thinking.  Not very clear photos.  Rather vague and blurry.  All true, and you are definitely entitled to your opinion, if that is what it is.

But in my defence, and in defence also of my camera, take a look at the same view, minus the zoom.

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The third of the above photos being a lot closer to what I merely saw than the first two are.

The vast expanse of greenery in the foreground is … Kew Gardens.  That photo was photoed half way up the Pagoda, as soon as I realised that this view was happening.

Maybe a compromise is in order.  Maybe this is the best photo, with some zoom, but not the maximum allowed:

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Sadly, though, that lighting effect hadn’t yet occurred.  That was one I took earlier

As I keep saying, my camera has far better eyesight than I do, and I am afraid the gap is growing.

Something that continues to grow is my admiration for the Walkie Talkie.  When lit as it is in the first two photos above, and when it is seen from a great distance, it is the most beautiful City of London Big Thing of them all, I think.

Friday August 24 2018

Here are two fun and silly and consequently viral animal videos that I was recently shown on Twitter, but they both raise a non-trivial question about animals and their degree of self-awareness.

First up, a cat looks in a mirror, and is surely not aware that the other cat is him/her.  Cats are much stupider than they seem to us, because their basic method of going about things is the way a wise human goes about things, often rather slowly, carefully and thoughtfully, or else in a way that looks very alert and clever But, often they are thick as several planks.

Meanwhile, a dog watches herself on TV doing one of those canine obstacle courses in a show.  Dogs behave like stupid humans, with wildly excessive enthusiasm for stupid things, and consequently we tend to think of them as being very rather stupid.  But the typical dog is a lot cleverer than the typical cat, I believe.  Dogs don’t care how stupid they look.  Cats typically don’t either, but cats typically behave like they do care about looking stupid, unless you dangle something in front of them on a string, at which point they go crazy, unless they are too old to care.

But back to my self-awareness point.

As commenter “Matt” says, of the dog watching herself on TV:

This is amazing I hope she knows its her.

In other words, Matt is no more certain than I am that she does know it’s her.  Maybe she’s watching a totally different dog do what she likes to do, and she’s excited about that, just like any other sports fan.

The cat video ends with a variation on what seems to be a regular internet gag about misbehaving reflections (that vid being in the comments on the cat vid), but that’s a different story.  Someone else adds a Marx Brother, or maybe it’s actually two Marx Brothers, doing the same gag, in those far off days before there was an internet.

Thursday August 23 2018

That cricket match at the Oval that my friend Darren took me to, the floodlit one, ended yesterday, and it got very tense, with Surrey eventually winning by just 6 runs.

The game ended with what you might call a 32 point catch, by Surrey substitute fielder Will Jacks.  (Whoever won the game would get 16 more points, and whoever lost it, no more points.) Morne Morkel bowled what turned out to be the final ball.  Lancashire number 11 Parkinson hit it hard to his left.  But Jacks stuck out his right hand and caught it.

You can see video of this moment here. It was indeed quite a catch.

But what I really like about that bit of video is the way the Surrey players on view - bowler Morkel, Jacks on the right, the wicketkeeper and three slip fielders – all then celebrate.

Jacks takes the catch and turns and runs away from the pitch, like a child imitating an airplane.

I surmise that cricketers do this when celebrating, (a) because they just have to celebrate, so celebrational are they feeling, but (b) they run away from the pitch in order to avoid any chance of being accused of celebrating in the face of an opponent, which cricket’s authorities disapprove of.  So, they run like lunatics away from where the game just happened.

So, Jacks turns and runs towards the boundary.

At which point the screen suddenly contains two more Surrey players, both running towards Jacks, to celebrate with him.  In all, about six guys are running towards Jacks.

However, some of those doing this realise, or so I surmise, that if they run after Jacks, they might never catch him.  Besides which, there is the matter of mobbing Morne Morkel, who has now taken six wickets and basically won the match for Surrey, so about three of the Surrey players wheel around and exit stage left, to mob Morkel instead, because Morkel has run off to the left, to do his celebrating.  Instantly, the picture, which had contained eight Surrey players, suddenly contains none at all, just the two disconsolate Lancashire batters.

Lancashire, way down at the bottom of Division One of the County Championship, really needed those 16 points, so they must have been very disconsolate indeed.  No Jacks catch and Lancs would surely have won.  But Jacks caught it and Surrey’s winning streak continues.

But, the news tonight for Lancs is better.  They are playing Kent in the quarter finals of the T20 slog, from which Surrey have already been eliminated, and they are well on the way to winning.  I support Kent in this one, because Kent is nearer to London than Lancashire.  And oh look, while I was just dashing off this posting, Kent have contrived to lose three more wickets and are now 114-9, with only two overs to go in their innings.  That surely won’t be enough.  So Lancs will soon, surely, be feeling much better.

But hello.  Lancs now 10-2.  Maybe Lancs will lose tonight’s game by 6 runs also.

Wednesday August 22 2018

I like these photos that I took last March.  I like the rather sombre light.  If my camera is to be believed, it was around 6.30 pm:

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On the left, the “South Bank Tower”.  Not interesting enough to the general public for it to have a name.  On the right, what I prefer to call The Wheel.  And in the middle?  I tend to call it One Blackfriars, but as Londonist points out, many people are calling this the Boomerang.

I also like it when Big Things aren’t quite ready and are still be worked on, but you can clearly see how they’ll look.  My very first digital camera coincided with the finishing off of the Gherkin and I have the photos to prove it, and ever since then, I’ve collected such architectural moments.  (My first digital camera also coincided with the last months of Concorde, but I don’t have the photos to prove that, which I still regret.)

And, as I only just remembered to say: the vertical bit on the far right is the edge of all that activity going on around the old Shell Building, and the building in the foreground is just flats, next to the iMax roundabout.

LATER:  Concerning the Boomerang, one of Michael Jennings’s Facebook friends (and actual friends, I think), who is called Lee J Tee, says this:

I actually really like that building. In general I think most of the modern buildings in London are worthy. A world class city deserves unique buildings and London has plenty of them, all different from each other and I like that individuality.

Amen.

I absolutely don’t understand how Facebook works, and probably never will, so I have no idea if I even can link to this, let alone whether, if I can, I should.  So, just take my words for it.

Someone else says that, actually, what I have been calling the “Boomerang” is “informally known as The Vase”.  Well, well.  I prefer that to Boomerang.

Tuesday August 21 2018

Yes, photoers photoed by me exactly ten years ago to the day, in the vicinity of Westminster Abbey, Westminster Bridge, Parliament, etc.:

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Cameras you don’t see much any more.  Even a free London newspaper you don’t see at all, any more.

Even the guy just smoking while photoing now looks a bit noughties.

Monday August 20 2018

Yes, earlier this evening, my mate Darren arranged for me to drop by at the Oval to witness day 2 of the first Day/Night game of four day county cricket to be staged at the Oval.  However, all I have the energy to show you for now is this new-to-me Big Thing alignment, as seen from the very superior seats way up in the pavilion, where Surrey members like Darren (and his plus one) can sit.

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Not surprisingly, these superior seats are one of my favourite spots in London (therefore in the world), because you can see things like the above, and cricket.

What we mostly observe in the above photo is the Walkie Talkie.  But behind we also see the newly erected Scalpel.  And, eagle-eyed viewers will also be able to discern, from two very small clues, the Gherkin.  Yes, that is definitely the Gherkin.

What the thing between the chimney pots in the foreground and the Walkie Talkie is, I do not know.

I especially like the two window cleaning cranes on the top of the Walkie Talkie.

Sleep well.  I am definitely about to do this myself.

Sunday August 19 2018

Earlier this evening I did some laundretting, and while I was there, this showed up outside:

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I still photo taxis with adverts on them, and I especially liked this one, advertising this..

It made me think of the last time I went up to the top of the Shard, just over a year ago.

So I took a browse through the photos I took that day, and this time around, this one particularly struck me:

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That was cropped to confine itself to the one building, and photoshop(clone)ed to resist the dullness of the day and general fogginess of the original.

Part of me wants to say that this is a classic case of the behind-the-scenes bit of a building, a chunk of it that you are not supposed to look at and get all aesthetic about.  It is what it is.

But I actuallly think that this is the facade of the building that the architects of it were most proud.  There is an exuberance about this roof, done in the equipment-as-decoration style, that is utterly lacking in the rest of the building.  The “official” bits of which are about as dull as dullness can get.  They didn’t have the budget to go full Lloyds Building, all over.  But they were able to go crazy on the roof, because the politicians whose job it was to tell them to redo the design more boringly didn’t give the roof any attention.  They thought they were building a machine for studying in, but only on the roof were they able to go mad with “expressing” that machineness.

I reckon they were delighted that the Shard was later put right next to this block of boredom with a great roof, enabling thousands of folks to gaze down on their favourite bit..  Gotcha, boredom police!

Okay, just a thought, and a thought that could well be wrong.  Maybe they really didn’t care how the roof looked.  But take a look through these photos of this mostly very dull slab, mostly taken from street level, of course, and see if you don’t share my suspicions.

Saturday August 18 2018

Indeed:

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Here.

She also wrote that NYT letter about white privilege, concerning which she Tweets:

Do not deny my lived experience.

Absolutely not.

Friday August 17 2018

imageThis is the exactly kind of thing I joined Twitter to be informed of.  Pinker, it seems, is a Real Photographer, or at least Real enough for me not to know the difference.  I’m sure that The World has known about Pinker’s photoing for as long as he has been doing it, but The World did not include me, until a few days ago.

Also rather Real Photographer is that if you left-click on any of the photos here, you get a little dark rectangle with little blue writing in it saying this:

These photos are copyrighted by their respective owners. All rights reserved. Unauthorized use prohibited.

So I hope that the small and cropped repro that I have included here, of one of the more eye-catching of these photos, of something called a frigatebird, will not incur the ire of Pinker Inc., or whatever it is that might be irate.  If Pinker Inc. does demand the removal of even this little photo, that will happen straight away.

But if it does, no matter.  Follow the above links and feast your eyes and your mind on the weird and wonderful creatures of the Galapagos Islands.

Thursday August 16 2018

The Devil’s Dice is a debut work of crime fiction, written by my niece (which I mention to make clear that I am biased in her favour) Roz Watkins, and published earlier this year.  I enjoyed it a lot when I read it, but I did complain about the cover design:

Memo to self: If I ever design a book cover, make the title on the front either in dark lettering with a light background, or with light lettering on a dark background.

This earlier posting reinforced that point with a photo of a big display of books in Waterstone’s Piccadilly, from which you can only tell that The Devil’s Dice is The Devil’s Dice when you crop out that one title from that bigger picture and blow it up, thus:

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This illegibility effect is also all too evident in this photo, taken by Roz’s brother.

All of which means that this (this being the relevant Amazon link) is good news:

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That’s the cover of the paperback version of The Devil’s Dice, which which will be available in January of next year.  Okay, it’s not a huge change, but putting the same orange lettering on a black background instead of a near white background is much more likely to get the attention of the fading-eyesight community, of which I am a member, and which is surely a quite large chunk of the public for crime fiction.  This is also the kind of thing that just might sway a decision about whether to put a book in a bookshop window display.

I bet I wasn’t the only one grumbling about that earlier hardback cover, and it would appear that the grumbling has had exactly the desired effect.

I know little about book publishing, but I’m guessing that paperbacks are where the volume sales are, driven by those early glowing reviews (The Devil’s Dice got lots of glowing reviews) penned by the readers of the hardback version.  And from that volume comes the magic of a serious word-of-mouth wave.  Most readers are probably willing to wait a little in order not to have to devote scarce bookshelf space to great big chunks of cardboard, and for the sake of having something a bit easier to carry around.

And, if you really insist of your books being ultra portable, or if your eyesight is even worse than mine and you need seriously to enlarge the text, The Devil’s Dice is also now available in Kindle format, for just £1.99.  I am biased (see above), but for what it’s worth I agree with all those glowing reviewers, and recommend The Devil’s Dice in all formats, even the hardback with its dodgy cover.

Wednesday August 15 2018

I think that’s what this building is called.  Maybe Kensington Gore is the curved road which this buildings stands on.  Google Maps suggests that Kengington Gore refers to both the building and the “thoroughfare”.

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One of the most disagreeable features of Modern Movement architecture in and around the 1960s was its aggressive unwillingness to accommodate itself to the already established street pattern.  Instead, higgledy piggledy streets at funny angles was bulldozed and replaced by rectangularity.  Happily, those days are gone, and we are back to buildings being strangely shaped because the site is strangely shaped.  Like the above pre-Modern-Movement edifice, which is now a favourite London sight of mine.  I now visit the Royal College of Music quite a lot, to hear GodDaughter 2 sing or to be at some other event that she has arranged for me to attend.  Every time I go there, I walk along Prince Consort Road, and there this Thing is.

I have only done a little googling, and so far I don’t have an exact date for when this Thing was built.  Late Nineteenth Century is the best I can do for now.

Tuesday August 14 2018

Just a question, suggested by this bridge disaster. today, in Genoa.

Every few weeks I go looking for new and photogenic bridges, and don’t seem to find anything much.  But now that all these great bridges have been built, and now that they are all getting older, or getting really old like this one, and are having to be kind of rebuilt ...:

The highway operator said work to shore up its foundation was being carried out at the time of the collapse.

... this could be the first of many such bridge collapses.

Oh My God.  Now I want more bridge collapses, just to be right.

On that same photowalk with GodDaughter 1, five years ago, that I mentioned yesterday, and a bit earlier than when I took yesterday’s photo, of her and her shadow and my shadow, I took these photos:

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You can see how that little mind of mine was working, can’t you?  That being one of the amusements of me taking so many photos that comes across years later.  I can now see exactly what I was thinking, in a little photo-moment, five years ago.

I encounter an interesting sculpture.  (I find that I like sculpture more and more, provided I like it of course.) Then, in the distance, I see a favourite Big Thing, in this case the Big Olympic Thing.  I line up the Big Olympic Thing up the sculpture.  I line it up again, this time including only that very recognisable top of the Big Olympic thing, and putting that right on top of the sculpture, like a handle.  Good.  Nice one.

Then I draw back, and take another shot that provides some more context, while being careful to keep the Big Olympic Thing present, to one side.  What I do not do, regrettably, is photo any sign or caption which told me about this piece of sculpture.  What is it?  Who did it?  When?  Why?  What’s it of?  There must have been some clue I could have photoed.

Happily, this is the twenty first century, and a little descriptive googling ("sculpture clasped hands” or some such thing) got me to places like this, which tell the story.  And it’s quite a story.

Monday August 13 2018

From the I Just Like It directory:

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That GodDaughter 1 on the left there.  We were on one of our photowalks, in August 2013, in other words just under five years ago.  I was looking for something dated, perhaps because temporary, and there was quite a lot of stuff in that part of London, Olympic Games territory, that must look very different now.  But that snap grabbed my attention, and I hope it tickles yours.

Sunday August 12 2018

I took this somewhat over a week ago, at a friend’s, of another friend:

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I took several versions of this shot.  The above was the first and best version, once I had realised that I could crop it to include everything about the shot that mattered and remove everything that didn’t, basically by losing a chunk at the bottom of my original.  I tend to resist cropping.  There is something (to me) pure, even perfect, about the image exactly as it comes out of the camera, no cropping, no enhancing, no nothing.  But this time it made for a definite improvement, I think.

The subject of the photo (perhaps mutual friends of her and me will recognise who it is (and also where it was taken)) put it on her Facebook page, which is very flattering.

She being an Instagrammer used only a square version, which may or may not have been an aesthetic preference.  Personally, I find the patterns made on the wall by that strange planetary light fitting very intriguing, especially in a photo, which, by eliminating all context and knowledge of what is going on makes it seem all the more strange.  That’s the thing about photos.  All you see is the photo.

And talking of how others may recognise her, I find it intriguing how very recognisable she is, to me anyway.

In her version, she added some blue to the wall. To make it more weird and outdoorsy, and less specific?  In general, I like it when people take my photos and play around with them.  Again: very flattering.

She also said something about how her scrunched up shoulders revealed how stressed she had been lately.  I never noticed that, neither when I photoed the photo, nor since.  But one thing I do know, from speaking to my friend Bruce the Real Photographer, and being photoed by Bruce the Real Photographer, and from speaking to others who have been photoed by Bruce the Real Photographer, is that Real Photographers know all about things like that.  Real Photographers, of the sort who photo people, are experts on human physiology.  The know, for instance, how to make your face look different by making you move your body around.  Had he been photoing this lady, he would have made her relax.

But I wasn’t doing a portrait; I was just snatching a fun shot, uninvited.  Then once I had worked out how to crop it, I sent it to her, and asked could I put it here?  She said yes, and also could she use it too.  So all the niceties were observed, as is proper in this age of face recognition software and easily violated intellectual property rights.  Whatever they are, exactly.  In plainer English, both of us like this photo, and are happy for it to get around.

Saturday August 11 2018

I can’t remember how Twitter caused me to arrive at this, but it did:

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Bananas that are either not ripe enough or too ripe are a constant irritation to me.  This - bananas sold in sets of bananas of different stages of ripeness - looks like a rather good answer.

A commenter immediately joins in and makes this into an argument about plastic in the oceans, the latest Green obsession that replaced the fading fear of climate catastrophe, except that the recent heatwave has now got them back going bananas about how the climate has now changed.  Like there have never been heatwaves before.  The climate presumably is changing, because it always does, but that’s no reason for humans to stop selling stuff to each other.  Or for them to stop thinking of clever and helpful stuff combinations.

Friday August 10 2018

The word used by England spin bowler Monty Panesar, when he was on Test Match Special this morning during a rain break, to describe how it felt when, in a test match in India, he got Sachin Tendulkar out.

Despite all the rain of the last two days, England were exhuberating at Lord’s today.

Thursday August 09 2018

The final full day of The Great Heatwave of 2018 was two days ago, on August 7th.  August 8th was a couldn’t-make-up-its-mind day, and today was a could-make-up-its-mind day, and it made up its mind to be cold and wet and generally horrible, perhaps in honour of the Lord’s Test between England and India, today’s first day of which was totally rained off.  One day, magic beams will rise up into the sky from around the boundaries of all major cricket games and will divert the rain into giant vats, also on the boundary, and play will proceed no matter what the weather beyond the ground.  (Such devices will also transform global agriculture, and make the entire population of the world obese.)

So, as I was saying, two days ago was the last day of the Heatwave, and maybe it was this heat which cause this lady to be wearing, in a street near me, this headgear:

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This lady looked normal enough, apart from the headgear.  I made no secret of the fact that I was photoing her, and she clearly saw me doing this and didn’t seem to min.  Or maybe she was concentrating on her phoning and actually didn’t see me.  Either way, I waited until her face was hidden.

The sane explanation for the headgear was the heat.  And honestly, I do believe that this was what it was for.  That heatwave really was very hot.

Wednesday August 08 2018

I don’t believe I am the only man to have been deranged by the heatwave in the manner I am about to describe, in fact I know that I am not, because I had one of those How-Very-True You’re-So-Right type conversations with GodDaughter2’s boyfriend, Only The Other Day, about exactly this matter.

I refer to the fact that I, and many other men, do not merely wear a jacket to fend off frigidity.  We also wear it to carry stuff.  It is our version of a handbag.  In my case: wallet, cheque book and paying in cheques book (so I was born before you were - live with it) (both these items serve another purpose besides handling the financial instrument relics of the previous century, which is to fill up the pocket containing my wallet and stop the wallet falling out (which would be a catastrophe)), pen, purse, Old Git free London transport pass, keys, handkerchiefs, mobile phone, spectacle case with reading spectacles, spectacle case with spare camera batteries and spare SD cards (the latter for if I forget to put my regular SD card back in the camera), Disprins, cough sweets, regular sweets, eye allergy spray, and no doubt several other things I can’t now remember.

Unlike some men, I also carry an actual bag around with me on my travels, containing: a folder with paper to take notes, a shopping bag for if I shop, a camera, a book, a small bottle of fruit flavoured anti-dehydration liquid, any food I have bought, any spare garments I might need for if it gets colder, an umbrella, and even sometimes a laptop computer, on those days when I am in a mobile laptop computing sort of mood (although lately I have tended not to be in such a mood (too heavy)).

But, transferring all the clobber described in paragraph two above into the bag, and into the midst of all the clobber described in paragraph three above, is a serious derangement, not least because the bag gets far too full.  For remember, what if, late at night, if the heatwave abates, I need the jacket?  I have to have the jacket in the bag, just in case, even though it is far too hot to wear it and in fact, throughout the heatwave, it remained so.  So, with everything now in an unfamiliar place, much of it buried under other bits of it, all the usual reflexes stop working.  Nothing is any longer where it usually is.  I start suffering from that frightful female syndrome of digging about inside the bag, frantically trying to find whatever it is.  Which may in fact be in one of my trouser pockets, or maybe even my shirt pocket, for goodness sake.  Oh God, where’s my wallet (which contains all sorts of priceless stuff which I dare not even itemise (see above))?!?!  Etc..

Today, the heatwave sort of ended, as in: the weather oscillated between pleasantly warm and somewhat warmer.  But unfortunately the London Underground didn’t get the email containing the link to the short-term weather forecast, and chose to remain full of the horribly hot air that it had been accumulating throughout the previous fortnight, or however long it’s been.

But the discomfort I suffered was the discomfort of wearing my jacket when it was rather hot.  That I can live with.

But worse, just like the London Underground, I too found myself suffering a systemic hangover from the previous period of high temperature hell.  Earlier this evening I was in a pub, and when my pubbing was done, I picked up my bag, and visited the toilet, prior to leaving.  Luckily, while there, I realised that I had left my jacket on the back of the seat that I had been sitting on.  I reclaimed it, seemingly unmolested by plunderers, except that … hell’s bells, my wallet wasn’t in it! It was, of course, in the bag, where I had recently been learning instead to put it.

It’ll be a few more days before I recover my usual calm and suave demeanour, when out and about.

Tuesday August 07 2018

Nice Twitter exchange about how Ryanair provides a leg-up for young airline pilots.

Tom Chivers:

Saw the pilot of the Ryanair flight I’m on and honestly if I worked in a bar I would have IDed him

My friend and followee Michael Jennings replies:

Ryanair is a good place for a young pilot. They fly lots of hours and get promoted to captain fast. Then, with this on their CV, they go somewhere else where the working conditions are nicer.

Tom Chivers:

I remember reading that other airlines love Ryanair for exactly that reason. Steady supply of good trained pilots who are grateful not to work for Ryanair any more.

So, Ryanair is, from the employment, first-rung-on-the-ladder point of view, … well, see above.

I still miss Transport Blog.

I follow Real Photographer Charlie Waite, and recently, this photo appeared at his Twitter feed:

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And then it disappeared.

What gives, I wonder?  I found it fascinating, but is it an act of social media aggression to have immediately copied it, and now to be displaying it here?  I don’t yet know the rules for such things.

The first fascinating thing, to me, about the above photo is how impossible to get to and from those houses look.

But the second fascinating thing about this photo is how it contrasts with this next photo, of the same houses, which I found here:

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This second photo shows that these houses are actually not at all impossible to get to or from.  By showing the bigger picture of the landscape, the landscape is, so to speak cut down to size.  (Also, the mountains are not actually blue.)

Did Charlie Waite take the first photo down because he does not want his camera to be telling lies?  However beautiful and awe-inspiring?  Perhaps.

Monday August 06 2018

Andy Bull of the Guardian lists the runs per over totals of the fourteen overs it took for Aaron Finch and Jason Roy to score 194 for the first wicket, for Surrey against Middlesex in a recent T20 slamfest at the Oval:

14, 17, 23, 15, 14, 15, 15, 10, 12, 9, 15, 11, 10, 14.

Middlesex had scored what looked like a very formidable 221 in their twenty overs.  Surrey demolished this target with four overs to spare.

Then, in the next game, Jason Roy …:

… managed the philosophically challenging task of getting stumped for a duck without facing a ball, as he overbalanced to a wide speared down the leg side ...

I was indeed puzzled, as I perused the result of that game on my mobile phone.  0 runs scored, 0 balls faced.  Stumped.  But I worked it out for myself, so I guess I solved the philosophical challenge.  Finch didn’t do much better, scoring a mere 16.  But Surrey still won.

And in between, there was the little matter of England squeaking home against India.  So, a good three days of cricket, which, with the magic of mobile phonery, I was able to combine with having a bit of a life.

Apart from the little fact that Joss Buttler, whom I earlier talked up, was the only total non-contributor to England’s win.  He got out twice for a total of one run, facing all of four deliveries.  Adil Rashid, whom I talked down, got three wickets, including the crucial one of Kohli in the first innings.  Kohli had, by then, scored 148 runs.  But if Rashid hadn’t then got him, who’s to say Kohli wouldn’t have scored another big pile of runs and given India a match-winning first innings lead?

At least I didn’t trash Stokes, who got the vital wickets for England at the end, or Surrey’s own Sam Curran, who got Man of the Match for taking five wickets and for turning England’s second innings from match-losingly terrible into, as it turned out, sufficient.

The second test starts on Thursday.  And another Surreyite, Sam Pope, is in the England squad and could also play.  I can’t wait, as GodDaughter 2 and her sister both say in such circumstances.  Meaning: I can wait and I will wait, even though I would prefer it if I didn’t have to wait.

Sunday August 05 2018

Yes, every time I visit my friends in Fulham Road, I get out at South Kensington tube, a bit early, and I photo, and then sit on the plinth of, the Bartok statue.  Follow that link to find out why it’s there.

Context, caption, and the prettiest photo I photoed of this, this time around:

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Music is made up of melody, harmony and rhythm.  What I like most about Bartok’s music is the harmonies, of the more “beautiful” and less strident sort.  Too many instruments, too loud, or a piano on its own ditto, and he loses me.  In other words, I basically don’t like Bartok’s music that much, but I sometimes very much like the sound that it makes.  I especially like the very beginning of the Concerto For Orchestra, the Piano Concertos (especially number three), and the string quartets.  Oh, and I really like Bluebeard’s Castle, provided the singing is bearable.  I especially like the in-English CD I have of it that came attached to the BBC Music Magazine about two decades ago, in which Sally Burgess sings superbly.. Memo to self: listen to that again.  I presume that Bluebeard himself is the usual industrial drill noise that almost all such singers perpetrate for a living, but it will be worth it for Ms Burgess.

This is the recording I mean.  Click on that, and you will discover that you can listen to it too.

Saturday August 04 2018

If you do four photos, adding very little in the way of verbiage, are they still quota photos?  Probably, but what the hell.  Today was hot, and this morning’s England v India test match finale was very tense.  So this here’s your lot:

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The Battersea Power Station is now smothered in cranes, so you’ll at once realise that the top two of these photos were taken earlier.  1.1, 2005, is a favourite view of many photoers, from Ebury Bridge, at the far end of Warwick Way from me. 1.2, 2012, was taken from the south end of Vauxhall Bridge.  2.1, 2016, how it from the top of Westminster Cathedral, in 2016.  2.2, 2017, is closer up, when I was checking out the beginnings of the work to extend the Northern Line, in 2017.

Whether you like Battersea Power Station or not (I happen to like it a lot), you’d surely agree that it is a very recognisable edifice, and I can understand why many regret that it is about to be surrounded by apartment blocks, of a similar height to the main body of the Power Station.  But, that’s London for you.

Friday August 03 2018

Yes, it seems that Brexit quotes are today’s theme.  So, here is another excellent bit of tweeting on that subject, this time from Jamie Whyte:

If the Brexit referendum is invalid because some voters were misled by politicians then all election results are invalid.

Don’t give them ideas.

I used to get angry when I read a juicy quote of this sort, and then clicked on the link, to find … only the juicy quote, in its original tweeted form.  I want to read more!  But now I realise that the “more” that I can then read is all the other tweet’s that whoever it is has been doing lately.  Which you can get to by clicking on the x in the top right hand corner.  That gets rid of the particular tweet, but reveals the entire twitter feed of whoever did it.

Follow the above link, click on that x, and you are then at Jamie Whyte on Twitter.

Radio early bird Julia Hartley-Brewer tweeted this photo, early this morning:

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Best comment:

Enjoy it while you can Julia, because after BREXIT there will be NO sunrise. The Polish and Romanian workers who lift the sun up every morning will be gone.

Those laser beams that her camera has created make the sun look like a ... white hole.

Thursday August 02 2018

On August 2nd 2013, exactly five years ago today, there was a clutch of orange umbrellas above Lower Marsh.  (Also (see bottom right), 240 Blackfriars Road was under construction.) I don’t believe I mentioned these umbrellas at the time I photoed them, and now, I can’t google my way to any sort of explanation of them.  But, I think I recall investigating them at the time, and I think they were some kind of advert for an art gallery.  This guy agrees that these umbrellas were indeed there, then, but he doesn’t say anything about them either.

Anyway, here they are, as I photoed them then:

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The bottom left one looks to me like the head of some kind of oriental feline creature.

Wednesday August 01 2018

The first test between England and India starts in under an hour, as I write this, and I have the feeling that this is going to be a really good series.  India are a terrific side, playing away.  England are … a side, playing at home.  More exactly, England are a side with lots of individual good players, capable of good things, but for the last few years, they’ve not been putting it together.  A five match series, and they just might.

My opinion on the Adil Rashid row?  Not sure.  But, probably, this: that a clever spin bowler bowling against batters who have to score at eight an over can get a ton of wickets, because the batters have to play a stupid shot about once an over.  However, a spinner bowling against batters who would like to score at four an over but who don’t mind scoring at two an over or nought an over is in a massively weaker position, because the batters never have to play stupid shots.  So, the bowler gets tired and bowls stupid balls, and eventually the batters are scoring eight an over, and the spinner gets figures of about nought or one for a hundred, and gets the boot.  Hope I’m wrong.

English county cricket can look after itself.  But the fact is, for spinners, it’s a very good proof that you can do it, if you can.  But, by the way, what you have to do is quite subtle.  Mostly, bowl a lot of overs for not many runs without getting tired, and as a bonus, while regularly taking wickets.  You can’t do that in white ball cricket.  White ball being the 50 and 20 over slogs, in which bowlers bowl only ten or only four overs.

White ball batting, on the other hand, is a different story entirely.  A truly good white ball batter can bat for about forty overs and make a score that’s truly big even by test standards.  I suspect that white ball cricket will supply a steady stream of batters to the England test team, and the result will be that in a few years, England’s test team will regularly score 450 in a day, or more.  Jos Buttler is the sort of batter England are going to rely on for the next few years.  Buttler went straight from having a good IPL – the IPL being the Indian T20 slamfest, played to packed houses and packed TV channels for more money in a year than most pro-cricketers earn in a lifetime – to the England test team.  And it worked a treat.  Why?  Because Buttler can really bat.  And he is used to doing it in a big time environment, where his whole future as a human being is at stake, just as it is when you play big test matches.

What’s happening here?  With batting, all the best and most ambitious county batters now try to bat like Buttler.  They try to break into the big time not by grinding out boring 150s over two days, but by smashing a clutch of match-wnning sixes in a T20 game that their county looked like they were losing.  They get some chances and they grab them.  And I do mean: all.  Only the second-raters now cut out the shots, in the manner of the young Geoff Boycott or Ken Barrington, and try to graft their way to greatness.  That’s how it now feels to me.  It’s like The Right Stuff said about how all those daring-do fighter-jocks suddenly morphed into risk-averse astronauts, only with batting, the culture switch is in the opposite direction, from risk averse to slam bang.  The slam bang batters are now where all the true class is to be found.  This was why Buttler was such a great choice.  He is just really, really good at batting.  He proved it in the IPL.  He will prove it again in test cricket.  It’s the slam bangers who now have the right stuff.

If I am right about all this, then the search for The Opener To Open With Cook will end when they finally decide to give up on all the second-rate grafters whose legs turn to jelly when they see spectators instead of empty seats around the boundary, and to pick classy slam banger Jason Roy.  For that, Roy needs to do what Buttler did and have a good IPL.  He hasn’t yet done this.  Before that, they’ll probably pick Rory Burns, and he won’t cut it.  And he will go back to Surrey and be Ramprakash.

We shall see.

Sorry about there not being as many links in this as there should have been.  I’m was/am in a rush to nail my petard onto the chopping block before the game kicks off.  I’m talking about this game.  There you go.  Another link.

England have won the toss and will bat.