This is the third consecutive posting here based on photos I took, two days ago now, while walking from the Angel to Barbican tube.
The reason for the abundance of photos from that walk was the light. It was a classic London early evening, when the sky above was getting grey and dull, but when there was a gap in the clouds out west, and the sunlight came crashing through that gap horizontally, light a searchlight, picking out random things that were sticking upwards, above the point at which old London stopped going upwards and only new London protrudes. Not everything doing this got caught in the beam, just some things. Behind them or next to them there would be objects entirely unlit and already fading fast into darkness.
Things like cranes:
That’s a fairly conventional photo for me, because the darkening sky is the background, as it often is when I photo evening sunlight crashing into cranes.
But this next one, taken rather later as I neared the Barbican, seemed to me to be something else again:
I have a kind of check list mentality when judging my own photos. I have a list of things I like, and the more such things are happening in the photo, the higher the photo scores. Cranes, tick, with the evening sun hitting them, tick. Another is interesting architectural silhouettes. Of such Big Things as the Gherkin, the Walkie Talkie, the Shard, and so on. And although those Barbican towers are not the prettiest Things in London by a long way, their silhouettes are distinctive, because of that saw tooth effect you get at the sides. I also like the understated roof clutter there.
A year ago I did a posting about Twentytwo Bishopsgate, which is about to be the tallest Big Thing in the City of London Big Thing Clump. It featured this explanatory image of what was then about to happen to that Big City Clump:
I’m not sure what the current status of “1 Undershaft” is just now, which is potentially the biggest Big City Thing of the lot. I seem to recall reading that there were delays. The internet now seems rather coy about this project. 22 Bishopsgate, however, is roaring upwards.
And no photo I have so far taken of 22 Bishopsgate illustrates the scale of this roar better than this one, which I took yesterday, when on my way from Angel to the City, which means that I was approaching the Big City Clump from a northerly direction:
What we see there is what used to be one of the City’s biggest Big Things, the NatWest Tower, or “Tower 42” as they now want us to call it. Behind it, dwarfing it, still not as big as it will be, is 22 Bishopsgate.
When I took this photo, such is my eyesight that I wasn’t sure if I was looking at the actual Tower 42, or a reflection of it in the glass surface of 22 Bishopsgate. It just seemed too small to be the actual Big Thing itself. But clearly, it is.
In the graphic above with all the names, Tower 42 is now so small and so antique that it doesn’t even get named. It’s the dark one on the left, behind where it says “Mitsubishi Tower”.
Today, I was meeting a friend in the area of Angel tube, and then, because the weather was so good, I decided to walk a little, to the canal nearby, and then south, towards the City. I took many photos. But as often happens when I photo ordinary things but in better than ordinary light, one of the best photos I photoed was something of a surprise. It happened right near the end. It was getting dark before I reached the City, and a signpost sent me along that strange tunnel near Barbican tube, to Barbican tube.
This is the tunnel I’m talking about:
I googled “Barbican tunnel” when I got home, and soon learned that this is apparently the Beech Street tunnel, although all it said on google maps was “B100”. Earlier this year, there was a apparently some sort of light show on show in this tunnel. But this evening what got my attention was the light at the end of the tunnel, which looked like this:
The natural pink and yellow of the sunset is what makes this, but I also like the non-natural green of the traffic lights, and the green reflections in the tunnel roof, joining in with those green roofs beyond.
In the distance, a crane. In London, cranes are hard to avoid. Not that I’d want to.
Recently I and Patrick Crozier visited the Grafton Arms. I rather like this pub. These guys also like this pub, because of the Goon Show. Apparently the Goons wrote some of their scripts there, in an upstairs room.
A fact commemorated by this mirror behind the bar, which I only noticed on this visit:
If you look carefully there, you can see me and my camera. Well, it is a mirror. I should have tried to include Patrick.
What took Patrick and me to the Grafton Arms was that we had just been doing one of our recorded conversations, and we needed refreshment. Tune in to the latest one, by going here.
My favourite of these conversations so far has been the one we did about WW1, concerning which Patrick is something of an expert. Our next, or so I hope, will be about transport, concerning which Patrick is also something of an expert.
My meeting last night (Tom Burroughes talking about Brexit) went well. I never feared that Tom’s talk wouldn’t be good. I merely feared that a humiliatingly small number of people would show up to hear it, and the better his talk was, the more frustrating that would have been. However, although a few who had said they’d try to come didn’t show, quite a few others who’d not said they were coming did show, and it all went fine.
Nine people doesn’t sound like much, but it’s enough to make for a very interesting conversation, so long as they are a good nine. They were.
Nine comfy chairs and nine people is no coincidence. This kind of thing has happened too often for it to be chance. When there were fewer comfy chairs, there were, on the whole, that number few people. Conclusion: if I would like more people to attend, I must increase the number of comfy chairs. Up to twelve, which is towards the maximum number of people for good conversation, and the point at which it begins to turn into a “meeting”, in the wrong way. With people who actually had interesting things to say instead sitting there in silence, feeling left out.
Remember those performing horses of Warwick Castle, galloping up and down on a thin rectangular arena, telling the story of the Wars of the Roses. Course you do. I showed you a spread of photos of them, but wasn’t that impressed with how those photos came out.
Well, after the show, all of us friends and family of one of the performers went backstage, so to speak, to shake hands with the guys in their armour and to say hello also to the horses.
And the photos I took of the horses seemed to me rather better:
It helped that the horses were standing still. It also helped that the background was much easier to choose and mostly looked quite different from the horses heads.
I also prefer the way horses look when they aren’t wearing complicated costumes. There’s nothing like quite like a horse, unclothed, in sunshine.
That hoods that a couple of the horses are wearing are not cruel. They’re to keep the flies off their eyes.
The actual war horses that fought the Wars of the Roses would have been a lot stockier and heavier than these horses. These ones are retired race horses. Which is okay, because they are actors.
Whenever I see a taxi with an interesting advert on it, I try to photo it. To recycle what I said in this, there is something especially appealing about a large number of objects, all exactly the same shape, usually all decked out in the same bland colour, but each one instead decorated differently and very colourfully.
It would appear that I’m not the only one. Further evidence that taxi adverts count for more, per square inch, than other adverts do, comes in the form of the meme war that this taxi and its advert is now provoking:
The CEO of a plumbing firm has announced that his company will be paying a delivery driver to ride around London in a taxi emblazoned with the slogan ‘Bollocks to Brexit’.
Social media gobbled this up, of course, and the responses were not long in coming. There was this:
And there will surely be many more. I hope I chance upon the original, and get a go at photoing it myself.
More taxis with regular adverts will definitely follow here, as soon as I get around to it.
LATER: And, as I should have mentioned sooner, my friend from way back, financial journo Tom Burroughes, is giving a talk this Friday, tomorrow evening, at my place, about Brexit and all that. I anticipate a more subtle and more elevated discussion than the one on these taxis.
And here’s another way of looking at the same thing, i.e. cropped into a square:
I have long believed that the Le Corbusier version of the Modern Movement in Architecture has its origins in the South of France and the north of Africa for a very good reason, which is that the light there is such that it looks good there. Anything looks good there, but concrete looks especially good..
And when the light is like that in London, it looks good in London too.
Colour is an obsession of Hartley’s, both when it is present, and when it is not.
Here is a photo I recently took, which is the sort of photo Mick Hartley would take, if he ever went West:
That’s the Victoria and Albert Museum, unless I am mistaken (as I might well be), photoed by me from the big old road that goes from the Albert Hall (and more to the point from the Royal College of Music, where GodDaughter 2 had been performing) down to South Kensington Tube. This I know, because of a photo I took of a street map, moments after taking my Hartleyesque photo above:
That being the relevant detail. I never regret map photos.
By the look of it, the V&A is a building I should explore. Especially its upper reaches. Maybe there are views.
Yes, here’s Bartok (again), from a slightly different angle, so that the tube station is right behind him:
A regular bloke in the street.
But now look at this. Same view, but with three newcomers, down at the bottom:
The statue of Bartok is a lot nearer to me that you perhaps assume, and crucially, those tiles look like bricks but are actually bigger than regular bricks, which makes this scene look a lot smaller than it really is.
Which is why the additional ladies at the bottom of the second photo really are so very small.