Brian Micklethwait's Blog

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

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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:

imageimageimage
imageimageimage

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:

image

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:

image

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 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:

image

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:

image

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 one above into the bag, and into the midst of all the clobber described in paragraph two 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 bell’s, 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:

image

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:

image

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:

imageimageimage
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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 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:

imageimageimage
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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:

image

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.