Brian Micklethwait's Blog

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

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Sunday October 10 2010

A fortnight ago, I met up with Goddaughter One to go photo-ing, as I do from time to time.  She is a professional photographer, and in the morning had been photo-ing at the finish of one of those charity runs that now happen every so often in cities on a Sunday morning.  This particular finish happened next to the Dome, so that’s where we met.

As luck would have it, one of my favourite most-people-don’t-known-about-it walks in London goes from the Dome and onwards, eastwards.  Not westwards, towards the more familiar sights of London, past those big Docklands Towers, and on to Tower Bridge and the rest of it.  No, beyond the Dome, towards the only remaining Big Thing on the river in an easterly direction, the Thames Barrier.

I had done this walk before, it having been one of my most happy discoveries when I first started photo-ing London.  I knew that Goddaughter One would like it too, with its weird off-the-beaten-trackness and its air of delabitated industrialism, its big and mysterious devices (for such things as taking gravel from a Big Heep to barges out in the river), and its small and often neglected yards and spaces, most of which have known better days.  Industry is in retreat, but gentility struggles to take up the slack.

When I photo, I like to combine weirdness with Things.  Goddaughter One likes weirdness.  Maybe because she photos Things, of various kinds, for a living.  So, we both enjoyed ourselves a lot.  I took photos I was very happy with, and she declared that she would be returning to this strange locality when the light was better.

imageimageimageimageimageimageimageimageimageimageimageimageimageimageimageimageimageimageimageimageimageimageimageimageimageimageimageimage

The light was poor and fading.  It was an afternoon for taking pictures of nearby things, not far away grandeurs, natural or man-made, the sky being boring and distant Things nearly invisible.

As you can see, I found myself noticing, in particular, notices.  What these notices tell me is, mainly, that litigation or prosecution - basically any involvement whatever with the legal system - is now an ever present threat to every business, and very, very expensive, even if you win your legal fight in the first two seconds with a knock-out blow.  So: do not rob!  Do not plunder!  If you do, don’t try suing us because our roof was slippery or you got scratched by barbed wire.  You were warned.  There wasn’t just barbed wire.  There was a sign saying: barbed wire.  These premises are protected by The Scary Brothers Security And Freelance Justice Firm, so it won’t just be the regular law you will have to contend with if you ignore these signs.

Goddaughter One was dressed in a bright red waterproof top.  She consequently figures in this set of snaps rather like a benign and harmless version of that the mysterious child/dwarf in a red coat in the movie Don’t Look Now, an effect only heightened by the pervasive surrounding greyness.  It would have been a great deal more Don’t-Look-Now-ish if the red coat had had a hood and the hood had been up all afternoon, but instead of that, Goddaughter One wore one of her interesting woolly hats.  (See also the final snap here.)

Lovely.  Weird, but lovely.  Weird and lovely, actually.  This happened on my sixty third birthday, and I can’t think of a better way to have spent that day.