Every time a bridge like this gets proposed (or even built), with architecture on it, however bland and boring it is, I rejoice that the day comes a bit nearer when such a bridge will get built somewhere in London downstream and east, in the vicinity of the Thames Barrier, or maybe further east than that. I don’t care where exactly.
The thing is, there don’t seem to be that many big bridges, for things like motorways and high speed trains, being built these days. The big news is in small bridges, like this one for instance. So, any bridge that any city does now manage to build is sure of a lot of attention. And if something like the old London Bridge got built again, downstream, bigger, that would definitely get lots of attention, to a part of London which is, as of now, dangerously bland and anonymous. All brand new machines for living in. Not much in the way of eye-catching picture postcard fodder. A bridge with architecture on it would really liven things up.
It should be big enough to have a viewing platform on it, nice and high up, to look upstream at central London from.
By the way, I just found out you can actually visit this model of old London Bridge, in a church, in The City. I saw it on television a few weeks ago and just googled it now. Blog and learn.
It is easy to be cynical. We might dismiss these photos as brazen self-promotion or a symptom of millennial self-absorption. Headlines like “Instagram Food Is a Sad, Sparkly Lie” and “Instagramming Millennials Are Burying the World in Food Waste” capture the standard sentiment. Slurs such as “foodgasm” and “food porn” often taint these photos with the suggestion of lechery. Perhaps, though, a more sincere explanation is possible. As odd as it sounds, I do not see pornography in these images. I find prayer.
I believe these pictures are a new incarnation of an ancient instinct: the ritual of tableside grace. Derived from the Latin gratia for “thanks,” grace is a specific type of prayer given before or after a meal to express gratitude and to invoke a blessing. It is an exercise in devoting reverential attention to life’s bounty, and through this enriched attention, achieving an expanded sense of belonging. “It becomes believers not to take food … before interposing a prayer,” Tertullian wrote in the third century, “for the refreshments and nourishments of the spirit are to be held prior to those of the flesh, and things heavenly prior to things earthly.” Grace is more than gratitude — it is gratitude ascendant, aimed above the earthly appetite toward a higher vocation. The Catholic Catechism defines prayer as “the raising of one’s mind and heart to God.” Thus grace gives our gratitude wings that lift the mind from the necessities of the flesh toward the nourishments of the spirit. For many people, photographing their entrées fills the same social role as grace: a ritual of aspirational attention that elevates bodily sustenance into spiritual refreshment through the simple power of a genuine “thank you.”
I often find myself describing my fellow digital photoers as “worshippers”. They see something which seems to them meaningful and express that felling by photoing whatever it is. I do this myself of course, constantly.
On the other hand, this piece also helped me to understand the widespread annoyance at the way food photoing is such a big part of social-media-ing. Saying grace is fine. But it’s a shared moment for those present (God included, if you think He’s the one to be thanking), and then you get stuck in. Do you record this expression of gratitude and then expect your friends to listen to it? No.
But on the other hand, two of the things that twenty-first-centurions now have to learn are: not to pay attention to everything that your friends put out there; and: not to expect your friends to pay attention to everything that you put out there. If a friend posts lots of food photos and you think it’s too much, just pay less attention.
And while I’m on the subject of food photoing, take (or not (it’s entirely up to you (if we are friends, our friendship will not be affected))) another look at what I think is one of my best-yet food photos, here.
Cody Dock is one of my favourite little spots-that-most-people-have-never-heard-of in London, and here is what looks to be a brilliant idea for a bridge there, by someone called Thomas Randall-Page:
That’s the bridge in its two possible states. Left, people can cross it. Right, bigger-than-small boats can go under it.
I tried to contrive a verbal description of how it works, but have failed. It’s all to do with rotating the square shaped bridge in such a way that its centre of gravity stays steady. But, (a) take my word for it that it’s very clever, and (b) follow the link and see how right I am.
The world does not seem to be building many new big bridges, but it is still contriving little bridges of great inventiveness, if only because they’re cheaper.
Two interesting recent postings by Norman Lebrecht.
First, Anna Nebtrenko has been bunking off from Bayreuth in order to go to a family wedding. Both she and her also-bunking-off husband were simultaneously “ill”, but then put themselves all over social media, being not at all ill, in Azerbaijan.
Lebrecht is not impressed:
Today’s breed of opera managers does not contain many heroes but at some point – and it will not take long – one manager will stand up and say to Netrebko, as Rudolf Bing did to Maria Callas: get out of my house.
For Callas, it was all downhill from that point on.
For Netrebko and Eyvazov, it’s just a matter of time.
I did not know that about Callas and Bing. Blog and learn.
Second, another operatic superstar, Placido Domingo, has been accused of sexual harassment. No force involved, but definitely harassment. Persistent sexual pressure and not taking no for an answer: bad. If the suggestion is that saying yes may result in career advancement, that’s bad too. If the further suggestion is that saying no may result in career retardation, that’s very bad. Domingo is definitely being accused of the first two.
Accused. The comments at Lebrecht alternate between wanting justice for the harassed, and those wanting justice for those accused of harassment, perhaps wrongly.
Today I want to be very busy doing something else, and I don’t want to be fretting about not yet having put anything here. So, I just trawled through Twitter for a LOL quote, and here is the one that made me LOL the loudest, from some lady called (somewhat scarily) Olivia Mace:
My period tracker apps the same colour as the trainline one. Just showed a bemused inspector that I’m ovulating.
I recently attended a picnic in a London square, the sort with a small park in the middle, and photoed this strange tree with its extra bits. Left to right: lots of context, some context, and just the Things:
I image-googled the London square where I photoed these photos, mentioning the strange Things on the tree, and got nothing. I’m guessing the inhabitants of the square, who include my hosts, would probably like to keep it that way. So, no name of the square. Just the fun of seeing the Things, and a question: What are they? Any suggestions?
Photoed by me last night, near Whitechapel tube station:
Well, it’s a point a view. And it makes a nice change from prophecies of climate doom.
Nevertheless, I am skeptical. I intend returning to this, once 2020 has come and gone. Prophets should be reminded about their prophecies, once their proclaimed deadlines have passed, and held to account in the court of public opinion.
And if this turns out to be right, then whoever said it should get the credit.
The Ashes record is held by the England opener Herbert Sutcliffe, who scored 303 runs – 176 and 127 – in a seven-day Test in Melbourne in 1924-25.
According to this, the above photo first appeared in the Sydney Morning Herald on March 14th 1933.
Of Sutcliffe, Wikipedia, who picked out this same photo of him, says:
A right-handed batsman, Sutcliffe was noted for his concentration and determination, qualities which made him invaluable to his teams in adverse batting conditions; and he is remembered as one of the game’s finest “bad wicket batsmen”. His fame rests mainly in the great opening partnership he formed with Jack Hobbs for England between 1924 and 1930. He also formed notable opening partnerships at Yorkshire with Percy Holmes and, in his last few seasons, the young Len Hutton. During Sutcliffe’s career, Yorkshire won the County Championship 12 times. Sutcliffe played in 54 Test matches for England and on three occasions he toured Australia, where he enjoyed outstanding success.
What England wouldn’t now give for such a batsman.
A little bit of spotting I mean. The ship itself was rather big.
Remember this map, showing where I went walking from Maze Hill station to YOU ARE HERE, and then went north to the Dome:
The original idea of that posting was to say where I was, and then tell you about something rather interesting I saw from that spot. But by the time I had finished rambling on about the sign of which the above map was a part, I already had an entire posting, about the sign.
But yes, there I was at YOU ARE HERE, and rather than concentrating all my attention on the view of where I was about to go, I also looked west. Here’s what I saw:
That’s right, one of those huge and impossibly top-heavy-looking cruise ships.
I tried to think when I had ever seen such a vessel in London before. I have a very vague recollection of having once such a thing, maybe, but nothing for sure. Well, well.
I then turned right and north, and in among all the photos I took on my way north, I occasionally looked back at this ship:
Those being the same photo, one of the last I took, with, on the right, the bit of the photo on the left which shows the actual ship slightly more clearly.
And this was the very last photo I took of her, maximum zoom:
With that, I took a turn inland, dictated by the path I was following, and I saw no more of her.
When I got home, I became curious about this ship. Name? I look a closer look at one of my photos above, and found this:
The Viking Jupiter. So, basically, that would be: Wotan. Just kidding. Viking’s the line, Jupiter’s the name. Fair enough. Just because an ancient (in both senses) historian might get angry about saddling a bunch of Norsemen with a Roman god, that doesn’t mean anyone else has to fret about this.
Then, in an inspired move, I wondered what Google Maps would have to say about the spot where I saw this ship. Here’s what came up:
And in particular, closer-up, this:
So, not just a pier of some sort, an actual ship. This would appear to be a regular London thing, with a regular pier for the ship to attach itself to in a regular spot.
Google google. Here is a map of the cruise that the Viking Jupiter was about to embark upon:
I had always thought that ships like this confined themselves to places like the West Indies or the Mediterranean. London? Liverpool? Apparently so.
Yet again, what I observed, and photoed with much pleasure, was something I would not dream of purchasing myself. Cruising on a big and over-decorated cruise ship like this is absolutely not my kind of thing. If they paid me £6,340 to do a cruise like this, I might even turn that down. (Probably not, but maybe.) But, I rejoice that London is part of this business.
I was there on the afternoon of July 29th, and “departure” was supposedly the 28th. But I think that may have meant the day when you had to leave your home in the UK, get to London and check in on the ship.
Photo and learn. Blog and learn.
New category, long overdue: maps.
I now rather regret that I didn’t scrap my original plan and turn left, and take a much closer look at this ship. Maybe next year.