Battersea Power Station plus train window reflections

More and more, I have come to think of the reflections to be seen in windows as interesting things to photo, alongside the things you see through the windows.


That’s Battersea Power Station and its crane cluster, photoed from a train, about to cross the river into Victoria, earlier in the month.

I know, it has the lights inside the train reflected in the window, and that is considered bad. But why is this a problem? I think it makes a rather interesting combination of sights.

I also like very much how the above photo also includes a small mention of the Shard, towards the bottom on the right:

My camera sees more than I do.

What the above sentence really means is that when I looked at the actual scene, when photoing it, I saw one thing, but when I look at the photo that I took, I see different things.

I now get to see more of that one scene. At the time I saw the scene, complete with its reflected lights, but then the train carried on moving and immediately showed me another scene, and another, and … . No wonder I didn’t see as much of the original scene.

Originally posted at Brian Micklethwait’s Old Blog

GD2 graduates

On Saturday June 9th, I journeyed to Blackheath’s All Saints’ Church to hear GodDaughter 2 and three of her Royal College of Music comrades in song take it in turns each to sing a few of the songs they had already done or were about to do in their graduation recitals. It was a fine event for all present, but for me it was particularly special, because, simply, I thought that GD2 sang so very well. There was a security, strength and beauty to her voice that I’d never heard before, and she sold her songs, every nuance of which she clearly understood perfectly, with just the right amount of facial and bodily gesture, enough to really help, but never to distract from her now amazing voice.

GD2’s graduation recital was still to come, and in the next few days I asked myself if she really had been as good as I thought she had, and whether, if she had been, she’d reproduce this recently achieved level of excellence when there was so much more at stake.

It was this graduation recital that got me, last Thursday afternoon, photoing the statue of Prince Albert outside the Albert Hall (sadly it is easier to scroll down than follow that link). In that posting, I mentioned, in passing, that I thought GD2’s recital had been very good. Perhaps you thought that this was mere routine politeness on my part. No. It really was very good, indeed.

The recital happened in a rather large hall, way too large for the number of friends and family present. In the middle, at the back, right in GD2’s eyeline, four RCM judges sat at desks in a silent row, giving her marks out of a hundred and writing comments that would decide her future. At first, GD2 seemed understandably rather nervous. But once she got into it, it was like Blackheath all over again, and if anything even better. This was a far bigger venue to fill than that church, but she did this in a way that suggested she’d do the same in a place three or four times bigger.

Most of GD2’s recent performances that I’ve seen and heard have been in opera scenes, where she was mostly just singing along with others. Which was fine, but it was hard to judge what personal progress she had been making.

It’s no good asking any of GD2’s fellow students what they think of her singing. They’re great kids, but all part of what is so great about them is that they never share any doubts they may have about each other’s performing progress or prowess with a mere civilian such as I. Which means that if they now think that GD2 is as good as I do, they have no way of telling me so that is fully convincing. My only way of knowing if GD2 is as good as she has suddenly started sounding and looking to me is simply to listen very carefully, e.g. while shutting my eyes, and then to go with what I think I heard. And what I think I heard, and saw, especially last Thursday, was the sort of singing that would have sounded absolutely fine if I and five hundred and fifty others had paid to listen to it in a packed Wigmore Hall.

I have always liked and admired GD2. And ever since she got into the RCM I have admired her even more. Clearly there were classical singing experts who thought highly of her prospects, and that was hugely impressive. But it was only at that Blackheath church, and then again last Thursday, that I was able to hear it and see it, fully, for myself.

Here are a couple of photos I took of GD2 last Thursday, in the RCM foyer, after her recital:

As you can see, I wasn’t the only one photoing her.

There’s still a long way to go before GD2’s name is in lights and on the covers of CDs, and any number of knowns or unknowns could still stop all that. What she is doing is like running in a marathon. It’s still quite early in the race and the leading bunch in this marathon is still pretty big. But, the point is: GD2 is still in that leading bunch. She’s still a contender.

It helps that her voice, mezzo-soprano, is quite rare. Regular sopranos, along with bass-baritones, are fairly common. Mezzos and tenors, not so much, not good ones.

Originally posted at Brian Micklethwait’s Old Blog

Ruthless boohoo man

Earlier this evening I was in the City, checking out the latest Big Things, but this posting isn’t about that.

I care just enough about England doing well in the World Cup to have to try not to care, as opposed to truly not caring. Countries like Tunisia are getting better at soccer, and countries like England are getting worse, so today’s game, Tunisia v England, was a banana skin almost guaranteed to embarrass England. I chose early this evening for my City walkabout because the weather forecast was good, but also because if I was photoing in the City, I could forget about this sure-to-be excruciating game.

Fat chance. For starters, I was constantly walking past pubs full of people crying out in unison and in frustration, at England’s evidently imperfect performance. Also, I had my mobile phone with me, and it was able to tell me what the shouting was all about. I tried not to mind when Tunisia equalised with a penalty. I tried not even to know. But I did, because I did.

Also, in one of those urban coincidences, I encountered two further soccer reminders, both involving Dele Alli, a Spurs player who also plays in this England side. These two photos were taken by me within a minute of one another, the first outside Liverpool Street tube, and the second down on the tube platform:

On the left, an Evening Standard headline, all about how ruthless England must be, against Tunisia. Sadly, they ruthlessly missed almost all of the many goal chances they created. Had that other Spurs player, Kane, not scored at the beginning, and then again right at the end in extra time, England would have been humiliated.

And on the right, an advertising campaign which Dele Alli was surely asking for trouble by agreeing to. He is fronting for clothing brand boohoo MAN. This is a photocaption waiting to happen. When England fail to win the World Cup, and they will, quite soon, fail to win the World Cup, Dele Alli will be photoed, a lot, looking unhappy. And the unhappiest photo of all will have the words “boohoo man” under it, in many media outlets. This will greatly benefit boohoo, by getting its name talked about, so I suppose, come to think of it, that the prospect of such coverage has already greatly benefited Del Alli. But I consider this very undignified, even if Dele Alli is already boohooing all the way to the bank.

Originally posted at Brian Micklethwait’s Old Blog

Weird unrehearsed performance anxiety dream

This morning, I had a strange dream. What with attending a couple of recent song performances given by GodDaughter2, my subconscious somehow persuaded itself that I was also having to do some singing, in front of a similarly discerning audience. But of course I had no idea what I was supposed to be singing. Also, my singing is ridiculous, and it has been ever since my voice broke. Nobody sane would gather into an audience to hear it. Nevertheless, there I was, on a stage, waiting to perform, with three other actual singers, totally clueless. So far so ordinary. A classic unrehearsed performance anxiety nightmare.

At this point, however, a slightly more conscious layer of my subconscious deduced, in an actually quite relaxed manner, that this was an unrehearsed performance anxiety nightmare. At which point, it told me to look the audience straight in their eyes, and I said words to the following effect: “This performance may seem like it’s going to be a dream for you, but actually, it’s really a nightmare. My nightmare. And I’m not having it. I’m not going to do any performing, and I am not going to feel bad about this. I’m out of here.” And I was. I left the stage, and all those present just had to deal with it.

At this point it got strange. Instead of me waking up, the dream carried right on. The media decided to take an interest. There were TV crews interviewing the other performers, the ones who had actually been doing some rehearsing. What was that about? Who was that bloke? It was quite a drama. As it would be, if a performer made a speech like the one my subconscious and I had just made. I tried to hide behind a door in the room where all this media frenzy was unfolding, but the media spotted me and advanced towards me. Only then did I wake up.

What did this mean? What was my subconscious telling me? The usual unrehearsed performance anxiety nightmare seems to say: rehearse better. This revised version seemed to say: relax. But relax about what, exactly?

They say that if you have a weird dream, then if you just write it down, as best you can, or, if you are the picture-drawing sort, if you draw yourself a picture, then whatever message your brain was trying to get noticed in another part of itself is from then on regarded as having been noticed, and the weird dream does not return. What matters is not the accuracy and quality of what you write or draw. Simply making the effort is enough.

It feels to me like this was something to do with getting old. Getting old means that you just get less bothered about things generally, and unrehearsed performance anxiety nightmares in particular. Time was when you worried about such things. Now, you just bugger off out of there. If others object, that’s their problem.

Also, if you think this is a bizarre blog posting, … well, you know, ditto.

Originally posted at Brian Micklethwait’s Old Blog

How London and its many creatures are evolving and should evolve some more

I link to this article by Matt Ridley partly because I like the photo at the top of it, which is a nice combination of biology and technology, wildlife and urbanity:

Here is a square cropped from the middle of that photo:

But I also like what it says, which is that human cities are also places for other kinds of creatures. Urban creatures are now evolving fast, to fill all of the many niches that humans are busy creating.

Suburbs are already richer in wildlife than most arable fields in the so-called green belt, making environmental objections to housing development perverse.

Amen. I was brought up in an outer suburb of London, which means a place just beyond the green belt, where London resumes, after a big old gap. Every train journey to London would involve this bizarre twenty minute spell in the green belt. The green belt is a completely futile and surpassingly dull doughnut of pseudo-agricultural nothingness. The only interesting things there are gravel pits and reservoirs. The green belt ought to be turned into real places for real people and real other creatures to live in, made green not by pseudo-agriculture, but by places of real beauty like Wimbledon Common and Richmond Park.

Originally posted at Brian Micklethwait’s Old Blog

Royal Albert and his Hall

Yes, here is the Royal Albert Hall, photoed by me this afternoon:

That photo was taken early this afternoon. I was there to hear GodDaughter2’s graduation recital in the Royal College of Music, which is just down the steps and across Prince Consort Road, south of the Albert Hall. After I had heard GD2 do her singing, superbly, and after I and all her many other friends and family present had celebrated afterwards with her, I started to make my way home.

Before leaving the vicinity of the College and the Albert Hall, I took more photos of the statue of Prince Albert that stands at the top of the steps, the other side of the Hall from the Albert Memorial. In the photo above, you can hardly see the Prince Albert statue. But later in the afternoon, the direction of the sunlight having altered, Albert was looking a lot better:

The Royal Albert Hall is looking particular fine just now, because scaffolding.

Originally posted at Brian Micklethwait’s Old Blog

A Jordan Peterson dating site?

For over a year now, I have been thinking that Jordan Peterson is a fascinating individual. When he did that Cathy Newman interview and got truly famous, I thought that this was a significant historical event. Among other things, I started thinking that he will raise the birth rate in the West, by urging its young citizens to be more ready to undertake the responsibilities of parenthood.

So, I found this comment, buried in lots of on-topic comments about this rather good interview of Jordan Peterson by Radio 3’s Philip Dodd, fascinating. Fascinating as in: proves me right. Right as in: a bit more right than before, not a lot but a bit.

Totally offtopic: is there a Jordan Peterson dating site for people who know about him?

Know about him as in: like him, agree with him, are fans of him. But despite being a bit badly expressed, this is surely a highly significant question. Well, I think so.

I just googled “jordan peterson dating site” and got some related stuff, but not any actual dating site. But that doesn’t prove there isn’t one, and in any case, if there now isn’t one, there soon will be.

I have just fixed for my Last Friday of the Month meeting on July 27th to be on the subject of Jordan Peterson. The speaker will be Tamiris Loureiro.

Originally posted at Brian Micklethwait’s Old Blog

Covered scaffolding in sunshine

I love to photo the huge white, often plasticky, sheeting that they now seem always to cover scaffolding with. You get delightful shapes and patterns, due to the way that this covering sort of shrink wraps itself around the scaffolding, either because it does actually shrink, or because it is stretched when attached, or because of the wind blowing it around, in or out.


When the sun shines through behind, you also get scaffolding shadows.


I make a point of photoing scaffolding and its covering whenever the sun is being directly reflected of it towards me, very brightly, as is happening in the above photo top right. So I zoom in on such a spot. When I do that, the automatic light reaction of my camera darkens everything, including even the sky, overdoing things absurdly, and creates a whole different effect, nothing like what I am seeing. (Photography is light.)


Plus, there is the added bonus that soon, all this will be gone, and instead there will be a building. This building will almost certainly be far duller than it looked while it was being constructed.

This particular building is just outside the 2 Chairmen pub, where I did my talk last night, and before which I took these photos,all within a few seconds of each other.

A BIT LATER: I just posted the above. Until I did, I was worried that these are stupid photos, not worth anyone else’s attention. But as soon as I stuck them up, and looked at them, in their blogged setting, so to speak, they looked to me very good.

Originally posted at Brian Micklethwait’s Old Blog

The notes for my talk

The talk in question being this. I show this photo of my notes here more to remind me to keep thinking about this stuff, than to tell you what I was talking about. For that, maybe better wait for the video.

I spent most of my spare time today working on that, even though it may not look like it. In the end I had far too much I wanted to say, but I did manage to blurt out a decent proportion of it. The thing to remember in such circumstances is that they don’t know what you forgot to say. They only know what you did say. If that was okay, then it was okay.

There is one big misprint, towards the end. Where it says “Era 2 effects”, twice over, the second “Era 2” should be “Era 1”. This did not throw me. I only just noticed it.

Originally posted at Brian Micklethwait’s Old Blog