Surrey Docks Farm

At the end of that walk along the river with GodDaughter 2, the one when I took this photo, and these photos, I also took these photos:

This was Surrey Docks Farm. As you can see in a couple of the above photos (most clearly in 4.3), Surrey Docks Farm has (of course (this is the twenty first century)) its own website.

We were on the path beside the river, getting a bit bored with the sameness of it all, getting a bit tired, knowing that we would soon be done, and then suddenly we found ourselves wandering around in a farm. There were no humans to be seen, just farm animals. The sheep in particular seemed really glad to see us, and stayed to have their heads scratched even after it had become clear that we had brought no food with us.

Originally posted at Brian Micklethwait’s Old Blog

Dr Salter’s imaginary cat statue

Indeed:

I took all these statue photos yesterday, in a walk with GodDaughter 2 that I have already referred to, which started at the Shard (see below), Tower Bridge, and nearby places, and ended … well, quite a way downstream.

As often happens, my favourite photo of this subject was the first one I took. But I also liked this next one, which neglects what seems to be the usual Big Things of The City background and adds only wall and water:

The explanation of the rather odd title of this posting is that what we have here is not so much a group of statues as a drama acted out by a group of statues. Dr Salter (see below) is looking on at his small daughter, and at her cat. But it is all taking place in his imagination, because the small daughter died tragically young. It is all very well explained, with more pictures, here. Follow that link, and you’ll even find a map of exactly where this all is.

The drama gets an extra layer of drama, because the original statue of Dr Salter was stolen, for its value as scrap metal. I think I preferred the stolen one, but here is the replacement, with the addition of a young man with tattoos:

The tattoos on the front of that guy were remarkable, and I regret now not asking him to let me photo them. I know, I know, creepy. But if he had said yes, I would have been delighted, and if he had said no that’s creepy, I’d have got over it.

Mrs (Ada) Salter also looks on, and these two headshots of her came out quite well too:

While taking these photos, or maybe it was a bit later, I found myself musing aloud to GD2 (with her agreeing) that people seem greatly to prefer statues that are very clearly statues, made out of some sort of monochrome material such as stone or metal, rather than something more realistically coloured, a fact which has, from time to time, puzzled me. Were the latter procedure to be followed, people wouldn’t be able to tell the difference between statues and actual people, and this would freak them out.

A “realistic” painting or photo of a person is actually not realistic at all. People are complicated in shape. Paintings and photos are flat. So, if you encounter a photo or a painting of a person, even if it’s life size, there is no possibility that you will be duped into introducing yourself to it or asking it for directions. But if you encounter a genuinely realistic 3D statue of a person, only its deeply unnatural stillness would eventually tell you that this is not a real person. And this would be awkward to be dealing with on a regular basis.

A giant statue of someone, realistically coloured, might be okay. After all, miniature statues (go into any toy shop or gift shop to see what I mean) already are okay. Just as with a tiny but realistically coloured person statue, you could tell at once that a giant realistically coloured person statue was only a statue rather than a real person.

A giant cat statue, on the other hand, probably wouldn’t be a good idea. People might think: Woooaaarrrrgggghhh!!! A giant cat!!! Get me out of here now!

Originally posted at Brian Micklethwait’s Old Blog

Multiple reflections of the Shard

This afternoon, I was wandering about in the vicinity of the Shard, in the company of GodDaughter 2. At a moment when I could not see the Shard, I nevertheless could see this reflected version of it: Or maybe that should be versions. It looks vagule like Barcelona Cathedral, with its multiple spires.

Unhelpful reflections have been on my mind lately, having tried to take photos from inside the Shard, with its very reflective windows. This is a reminder that reflections can be fun.

Later GD2 and I walked along the river downstream, on the south side. And walked, and walked, and walked. By the time I was home I was exhausted and yet again I am in quota photo mode.

The weather forecast for tomorrow is good, so something similar may happen tomorrow, but I will try to do better.

Originally posted at Brian Micklethwait’s Old Blog

Tom Burroughes

Earlier this evening I went to the Two Chairmen to hear my friend Tom Burroughes speak, to Libertarian Home, about the idea of a Universal Basic Income.

I took this photo of Tom in action:

It troubles me how much Photoshop(clone)ping I had to do to make this photo look good, taken as it was with my new camera. But I think it now does look okay. I particularly like how I used a nearby beer glass to smudge out most of the head of the man in the foreground.

At Samizdata, Tom goes by the name of Johnathan Pearce. Here is a recent piece he did there, about the very subject he was speaking about this evening. And Tom will give this subject another airing at my home, on September 29th. It’s an important subject, I think.

A quota photo of the Shard with foliage and two ridiculous problems solved

On the same day that I took these photos of a spiral shopping trolley sculpture, I also took this photo:

One of many other nice photos I took that day. I chose this one partly because the Shard is the big Big Thing here, just now.

The reason for a quota photo is that I have spent most of my discretionary time today solving ridiculous problems. But I did actually solve both of them, so I am now ridiculously happy.

Problem one was that my bedside radio had suddenly taken to breaking off its playing of mp2 files on the 2GB SD card I had inserted into it, after about twenty minutes, every time. Was this the 2GB SD card? Or (the horror) the radio? Turned out it was the 2GB SD card. My guess: the 2GB SD card, obtained because very ancient and hence ancient enough to fit into my ancient radio and be used both to make and to play recordings, was nevertheless insufficiently ancient. It had the word “Integral” on it. This suggests excessive speed to me. At the very least, an air of impatience. Anyway, my radio couldn’t be doing with it. So, I tried a different and more ancient-looking 2GB SD card, and that worked. Hurrah.

Problem two was that my debit card had stopped working, and I had a vague – but only vague – recollection of having received a letter from my bank with a new debit card in it. But where was it? There followed two hours of searching, but in a manner which made things more tidy rather than less tidy, which is not always the way when you are searching for something. Key fact: I was not in too much of a hurry. It is searching for something in a hurry that really makes chaos. Anyway, I eventually found the new debit card, in the last place I looked. Hurrah times two, making three hurrahs in all.

A good day. And, I hope you agree, a good quota photo.

Originally posted at Brian Micklethwait’s Old Blog

Two Seifert roof clutter clusters

It’s no great surprise that, at the website of the hotel that now calls itself Park Tower Knightsbridge, they are keener to show you pictures of the hotel’s interiors and of the views to be seen from the hotel, than they are to show you what the hotel itself looks like to the outside world.

That being this:

That’s a photo of this building that I took five years ago, from Hyde Park, which is not a place I visit very often. Personally, I am rather fond of this building. But I am not the sort of person who would ever stay there. I’m guessing that those who do stay there are not that fond of how it looks from the outside.

Park Tower Knightsbridge was designed by my favourite architect from the Concrete Monstrosity era. Favourite in the sense that when it comes to your typical Concrete Monstrosity architect, I hate almost all of what they did. With Richard Seifert, I just hate some of it, and rather like quite a lot of it.

Especially now that this style is in headlong retreat, and all the arguments about it concern whether this or that relic of the Concrete Monstrosity era should or should not be dismantled. When this style was on the march, smashing everything in its path to rubble, I would gladly have said goodbye to Park Tower Knightsbridge (or whatever it started out being called), if that was what it would have taken to stop the Concrete Monstrosity style in its tracks. But now, I favour the preservation of a decent proportion of London’s Concrete Monstrosities. I suspect that they may turn out, in the longer run, like the medieval castles of old (definitely feared and hated when first built), in eventually being regarded as charmingly picturesque.

And, I especially like the Park Tower Knightsbridge, because of its striking concrete window surrounds, and its non-rectangularity. See also No. 1 Croydon, which I think may be my absolute favourite Seifert.

Striking concrete window surrounds and non-rectangularity might also be why I like this next building, One Kemble Street, also designed by Richard Seifert, and already featured here in this posting, which includes a photo of how it looks when viewed from the upstairs bar of the Royal Opera House Covent Garden.

I took these photos, within a few seconds of each other, minutes before taking this rather blurry photo of the ROH.

In addition to being a posting about how I am rather fond of these two Seifert buildings, it is also a rumination upon roof clutter.

Note how both these buildings have an abundance of roof clutter perched on their tops. But note also how that clutter is so arranged as to be largely invisible to anyone standing anywhere at all near to the building.

If you image google either One Kemble Street or Park Tower Knightsbridge, what you mostly get are these close-up views, with all the roof clutter out of sight. It’s like those who own these buildings care very much about the impression the buildings give to passers-by, and most especially to those who actually go into the building, but do not care about how the buildings look to the rest of London. They probably figure that nobody really sees these buildings, except from nearby where you can’t miss them. But from a distance, and now that the architectural fashion that gave birth to them has been replaced by other fashions, they just, to most eyes, fade into the general background architectural clutter which is London itself. If there is clutter on top of them, well, that’s London for you. London, like all big cities these days, abounds in roof clutter.

I don’t know. I’m still trying to get my head around these thoughts. Maybe it’s just convention. On stage appearances matter, and offstage appearances do not. When it comes to how things look, the side walls of these buildings count. They’re on stage. Their roofs do not count. They’re off stage.

Originally posted at Brian Micklethwait’s Old Blog