Brian Micklethwait's Blog

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

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Thursday January 22 2009

While out and about the other day (buying a colour printer to print out photos as it happens), I espied this news story in one of the free papers:

A CLUSTER of skyscrapers dubbed “The Breadsticks” is set to change the skyline of the capital.

The Three Houses project would include a 250m-tall building, a record for a residential tower in the UK.

Developers are holding talks with Mayor Boris Johnson this week to discuss the multibillion-pound plans for three glazed towers at a site near London Bridge station.

In other words, quite near the Shard of Glass, which would seem to be going ahead.  I figured that big tower building in London might find itself credit crunched, but it would appear that the London property market is holding up quite well, for the time being anyway.  What I am hearing is that prime property is what people with cash are buying, given what a lousy deal cash looks to be just now.

image

As for this Breadsticks oddity, I’m for it of course.  The London Bridge area is one of the most bizarrely muddled places in London, and that’s saying something.  So, a bizarrely muddled building will fit right in.  It will make a nonsense of the nearby and serene Shard, assuming that also goes ahead, but that’s London for you.

I will eat my laptop if any of this actually happens.

Posted by Michael Jennings on 23 January 2009

it might suit British eccentricity, but judging by the silhouette on the picture, the Breadsticks is incredibly ugly. I wouldn’t call it Breadsticks, though...a tree stump?  an artillery victim? an amorphous clump?

Usually I don’t site with “conservationists” - I think the cities are mosaic, where there is place for good, the bad and the beige nothings. But this is “bad” on a scale inappropriate for a dollhouse that is London.

Posted by Tatyana on 23 January 2009

Tatyana is right about the Breadsticks. I’d actually be quite worried if I ever went into a restaurant and saw something that looked like that being passed off as breadsticks. No, it looks much more like an extremely unconvincing fake tree, as created either by a particularly lacklustre amateur dramatics troupe, or perhaps as a cover for some recently-declassified MI5 deception. Whimsical modernism is, apparently, an absolute nightmare to pull off successfully.

My own problem with these super-tall buildings - built with tallness as an absolute end in itself - is the speed with which they devalue their own currency. Once upon a time, the Canary Wharf tower looked almost impossibly tall. I remember being shocked at how soon it became visible on the horizon on the way into London. It seemed ominous and important. Now, though, it’s just one of several largish towers, looming up over lots of smaller towers - and where’s the excitement in that?

Of course it’s different if super-tall buildings are built to do something more than just be super-tall, but I’m far from sure that e.g. looking like an unrealistic tree, or a deformed trio of breadsticks, is the way forward.

Posted by Bunny Smedley on 23 January 2009

Michael

Yes, that’s my fear too, although I won’t be eating Jesus no matter what happens.  What am I, some kind of crazy Roman Catholic?

I’d be interested on hearing the details of your reasoning re this, sometime, like when we next meet.

(off topic but it’s my blog): Thanks for sorting my printer out.

Posted by Brian Micklethwait on 23 January 2009

Michael, do you accept invites for sorting printers out? Mine messes up colors when prints out photographs - everything comes out in weird maroon. The flight to JFK is not especially long, right?

[sorry, Brian, I know it’s your blog and it’s OT - but since you opened that door...]

Posted by Tatyana on 24 January 2009

I would be eating an Apple, which doesn’t quite sound so bad although it would probably do more damage to my teeth.

Tat: Brian is the best sort of computer services scrounger. He brings the hardware to your place, provides excellent conversation, and then takes you to the pub and buys you a drink while thanking you profusely. The kind who ring you up at three in the morning while you are sleeping, want you to diagnose their problems from the other side of the world while not answering your questions are perhaps more problematic. Note to all such people: If I ask you “What does it say on the screen?” I do not want a narrative of a combination of what you think is wrong and how the problem occurred. I want to know exactly what it says on the screen, up to and including any Cyrillic characters and/or punctuation symbols that you do not know the name of. If you know what was wrong you would not have woken me up at three in the morning.

Actually, I am now remembering the kind from my student days who knock on the door of your room at three in the morning because they have an essay due at 9am and the computer has just failed, and who then comment on the lack of style of your pyjamas and dressing gown while you save their lives. That was before I had learned the sad lesson that women don’t fall in love with men because the gentleman has just fixed the lady’s computer. (Michael sighs sadly).

Rant off now. Sorry Tat. That internal narrative has nothing to do with you. I might be in New York later in the year, although I doubt that fixing your printer will be close to the top of my list of priorities.

Posted by Michael Jennings on 24 January 2009

Michael, it was a joke. I apologize.

Posted by Tatyana on 24 January 2009

Tat: Indeed. So was my response.

Posted by Michael Jennings on 24 January 2009

So funny, I cried. Imagining Brian’s face when you demanded him falling in love with your for fixing his gadgets.

Posted by Tatyana on 24 January 2009
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