Surrey v Middlesex T20: Signs and notices

Last night, good friend of mine and of this blog Darren arranged for me to go with him to a cricket match. Thanks a century by Middlesex captain Dawid Malan, Surrey were on the back foot throughout, and were beaten well before the official end.

Which is perhaps why I found myself enjoying all of the many incidentals of the game at least as much as I enjoyed the game itself. Even before I got inside the ground, I was taking photos of signs, many of them involving the names of Surrey greats of the past, familiar from the many hours of my childhood spent listening to cricket on the radio. Although, while I clearly recall Surridge, Lock, Laker, May and Stewart from those far off times, and while I know who Nat Sciver is and who Jack Hobbs (the gate) was, Tom Richardson (the plaque – never noticed that before) was way before my time:

All but the last three of those were photoed before the game had even begun. Darren says he likes to be there to “soak up the atmosphere”, and so we got there at 4.30 pm, for a 6.30 pm start. I had a great time photoing lots of things that you never normally see in regular cricket photos.

That “Welcome to the Kia Oval” sign I include to ram home that if you are anything officially connected to Surrey and you ever refer to the Kia Oval merely as “The Oval”, you will be savagely punished.

As you can see, the World Cup is still being remembered fondly, and smoking is forbidden throughout the ground, as are a bunch of other things, so you don’t feel tempted to throw them at the players. Or the umpires. Also no musical instruments.

The sign which says “4” on it means that someone has hit a 6, almost certainly Malan. That’s because spectators get given cards with 4 on one side and 6 on the other, to flaunt when someone hits a 4 or a 6, and my photoing was from the wrong side of the sign, so to speak. When someone hit a 4, that sign would say, to me, 6. At first I was puzzled at all the signs saying 6 when it was only 4. As you can maybe tell, this is the first T20 game I’ve ever actually been to.

The sign on a pole is to advertise the game at the Oval against Glamorgan tomorrow evening. Having now lost their first two games, Surrey need to start winning.

LATER: I missed this one!:

Next time I go the Oval, I’ll maybe do a complete photo-inventory of all the signs there that I can find. There have to be many more than I encountered yesterday.

Stephen Davies on the Habsburg failure to dominate Europe

In his new book, The Wealth Explosion: The Nature and Origins of Modernity (see also this excerpt and this excerpt), Stephen Davies argues that the Wealth Explosion of his title happened, in Europe rather than in any the other places where it might have happened, because in Europe, uniquely, nobody was in a position to stop it. In particular, the Habsburgs, who might have achieved domination in Europe in the manner of the Ming Dynasty in China, the Mughals in India or the Ottomans in the Middle East, came close, but failed.

What follows is Davies describing how their attempt nearly succeeded, but finally fell away (pp. 150-152):

So the critical turning point for European and in significant ways world history (because of its impact on later events) was the decade of 1582 to 1592. In those years Phillip II played for the ultimate prize. Had he succeeded in his twin aims, of suppressing the Dutch and either dismembering the French monarchy or reducing it to client status, he would indeed have achieved a dominant position in Europe with no power realistically able to check him and the military revolution in Europe would have had the same result as elsewhere. However, in going for everything he failed in both of his major objectives.

Firstly, Phillip II tried to consolidate his apparent victory over the Dutch by invading and conquering England in 1588 via the ‘Invincible Armada’ which would have given him domination of the Northern Seas, as well as control of England’s wealth and resources. He saw this as both an opportunity and a strategic necessity. In 1585 Elizabeth I had finally entered the war in the Low Countries on the Dutch side through the Treaty of Nonsuch. Then in 1587 her cousin and heir, Mary Queen of Scots, had been executed. This opened up the opportunity for Phillip, as overthrowing Elizabeth would no longer bring a pro-French ruler to the English throne. The Armada came close to success and had it managed to transport the Spanish army from Gravelines to Kent no amount of patriotic rhetoric would have helped Elizabeth’s forces against Parma’s veterans. However, at a crucial point the naval superiority of the English, culminating in an attack by fire ships and combined with a change in the wind, forced the Armada to run round the eastern side of the British Isles. The Armada fatally distracted Parma from pushing home his advantage over the Dutch and gave them time to regroup.

Meanwhile in France, the state of the French monarchy went from bad to worse. In 1584 the Duke of Anjou, the youngest of Henri II’s four children and the heir presumptive to the childless Henri III, died and this left his cousin and head of the Huguenot faction Henri of Navarre as the heir to the throne. The Catholic faction headed by the Guises refused to accept his right and entered into the Treaty of Joinville with Phillip Il. (It was this and Parma’s successes that finally provoked Elizabeth into the treaty of Nonsuch). Then in 1588 a mass uprising by the Catholic League of the Guises drove Henri III out of Paris in the ‘Day of the Barricades: Later that year Henri III treacherously murdered the Duke of Guise at Blois, an action that destroyed any remaining support for him in Paris and the North and East of France. At this point the French monarchy barely controlled a few strongholds along the Loire, and France seemed in imminent danger of succumbing to the Habsburgs. Then, in 1589 Henri III was murdered in his turn, by a Catholic assassin. This meant that Henri of Navarre became King, as Henri IV. He proved to be one of France’s greatest rulers and brought the wars of religion to an end by firstly, becoming a Catholic (“Paris is worth a mass” as he said), secondly defeating the Guises despite intervention by Parma on their behalf, and thirdly by promulgating the Edict of Nantes which guaranteed limited freedom of worship to the Huguenots. This meant that France re-emerged as a great power whereas a few years earlier it had looked as though it would break up or fall under Spanish supremacy, like Italy.

Meanwhile the Dutch, on the ropes In 1587, were able to recover while the Armada and the war in France distracted Parma. William the Silent’s son, Maurice of Nassau, proved to be an outstanding general and military theoretician and he was able to recapture the key fortresses of Breda and Geertruidenburg and drive the Spaniards south of the Rhine and Maas. At this point the financial burden of the wars proved insupportable once more and in 1609 the Habsburgs were forced to sign the Twelve Year Truce with the Dutch. They had missed their chance.

Arguably though, the Habsburgs had one final try at a dominant position in Europe. Following the reunification of the ancestral Habsburg lands by Ferdinand of Styria in 1618 he became Holy Roman Emperor Ferdinand II and allied himself with his Spanish cousin Phillip IV, in an attempt to complete the unfinished task of Phillip II, The result was the Thirty Years War of 1618 to 1648, which laid waste large parts of Germany and came to involve almost every power in Europe. Towards the end of the war France, under the leadership of Cardinal Richelieu, intervened directly on the anti-Habsburg side. French forces inflicted devastating defeats on the Spanish at Rocroi and Lens, which marked the end of Spanish military superiority in Europe. The war between France and Spain finally ended with the Peace of the Pyrenees in 1659, which marked the end of Spain as the premier great power in Europe.

Even more importantly, in 1648 the Treaty of Westphalia which ended the Thirty Years War formally recognised the permanent division of Europe into distinct sovereign states, that is to say that there was no hegemon or true supra-national power, and set up a set of rules to govern relations between them. The so-called ‘Westphalian System’ remains the basis of international relations to this day. …

LA roof clutter

You can see how, out of all of this photo-collection of LA trees at Mick Hartley’s, I’d pick out this one:

Eat your heart out MOCA.

Ferraris – well lit

On the same night (but later, when it had got dark) that I photoed this rather artistic roof clutter, I also photoed these rather more self-consciously artistic works of art:

Photography is light. If the Ferrari shop in Kensington was not intending that passers-by should take photos, well, they shouldn’t have lit their cars so well. I took only a few shots, and most came out (see above) pretty well.

These Ferraris are displayed in chronological order by my photoing, but they look good as a set (see above also). Pointing outwards, if you get my meaning.

I feel the same way about Ferraris like this, behind a shop window, as I do about tourist crap in tourist crap shops or Big architectural Things like the Shard or the Gherkin. I don’t want to buy it. Far too much bother. (Where would I put it?) But I can enjoy the amusing way it looks, by merely photoing it. If, like me, you are a collector, you can now easily collect how things look, without collecting the things themselves.

“Other creatures” in the category list is because of the Ferrari horse.

Big Thing alignments from Lord’s

One of the many things I like about watching cricket on the television, along with things like that I can see properly what is going on, is that in between overs, those high-up cameras often look beyond the cricket, to the surroundings beyond, a process which is especially appealing if the game is being played in London.

As last weekend’s Cricket World Cup Final was, at Lord’s:

That’s a photo I just snapped off of the TV, with a camera.

Let’s see if I can do better, by putting one of the three DVDs I made of the Final with my TV recording machine, into my computer, and then do a screen scan. It helps a lot having the score, because that way I can quickly find the same shot.

Here we go:

A bit better, I think. Not a lot, but a bit.

In the foreground there is Regent’s Park. but the particular thing I like is the way the BT Tower aligns with the Shard. The BT Tower even manages to place itself between the Shard and Guy’s Hospital.

Here’s another Lord’s photo, that I photoed myself on a more sedate Lord’s occasion. Rugby v Marlborough, on August 12th 2017:

I took that from the top of the big new stand which has a roof on it like a big tent. You can see the same alignment, of the Strata (the one with three holes in the top) and the Wheel, in the TV shot above. What this tells me is that the TV shot was taken from a lot higher up, and off to the left as we look. So, on a crane, standing at the Media Centre end.

Here is a photo of some Real Photographers …:

… whom I photoed that same day, minutes after that earlier photo. Lord’s was not exactly buzzing that day, was it? Anyway, I’d like one of those Real Photographers to be sent up to the top of the crane where the TV people took their shot from, and take some extra good stills of the same BT Tower/Shard alignment.

Alas, they probably wouldn’t be that interested. Plus, nowadays you can probably do everything you want along such lines with drones.

That earlier game, described here, had one thing very much in common with the recent World Cup Final game, which was this:

Neither side deserved to lose and cricket was very much the winner …

It was indeed a terrific contest, even if only a tiny few people watched it, compared to the crowd last Sunday, at the ground and on TV.

Stephen Davies is writing a horse book

Much as I would like to replace the late Findlay Dunachie, I don’t think I’m cut out to be a book reviewer. It takes too much focus. While you’re doing it, you can’t afford to get stuck into reading anything else. When it comes to book blogging, blog postings provoked by some particular thing in a book is probably the best way for me to go.

But, I am trying to review The Wealth Explosion (you can read bits from this book here – here and here) by Stephen Davies, and I am determined to get this done, Real Soon Now.

Part of my homework for writing this review was attending an event at the IEA last week, at which Davies spoke about this book.

Which was fun, of course. But for me the biggest and best surprise came afterwards, when I asked Steve about his next book (about the Devil), and then if he was doing any more books after that Devil book. Yes, he replied. Two more. I forget the second of these two, but the first is going to be about the history of the horse.

That being my excuse for mentioning this today, Fridays being my day for cats and/or other creatures.

Historically, I surmise that the contribution of the horse in quite recent times, like the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, is a rather neglected subject. I remember reading how horses multiplied during the early decades of the railways, to get people and goods to and from railway stations. More recently, I read, I think in one of James Holland’s book’s (this one maybe?), how the Nazi war effort, for all its much touted mechanical virtuosity, was amazingly dependent upon literal horsepower.

I’m really looking forward to Steve Davies’s horse book. Given how much people love horses, now more than ever, it just might sell very well. Consider the success of this recent horse-based show.

(Something similar applies to how much people disapprove of – yet are fascinated by – the Devil.)

Goodbye to some old friends

One of the many symptoms of getting old is the reluctance to chuck away things that seem complicated and hence undeserving of being chucked away, when they have nevertheless stopped working. No “finding a good home” for them. (What home would want them? They’re not pets.) No ridiculous attempts to get them mended. (Who would mend them, at a cost remotely as low as that of just buying another?) No keeping them in case someone might want them. (Who? Why?) Just get rid of them.

And these three gizmos (four if the speakers count twice) all ran out of puff within about a week of one another, after each giving me at least a decade of good service:

The phone is the one that was in my bathroom. I could still hear everything, but suddenly those at the other end couldn’t hear me. The new phone is the same, but black

The speakers were attached to my computer. One of them conked out, even though the other one, with all the knobs on, is still fine. The new speakers, also black, are much bigger and much better. Crucially, they permit me to vary the tone just like the old white ones did, and beef up the base a bit. Many such speakers refuse to do this.

And the little black screen is for watching DVDs in bed. (I like DVDs. Spare me the comments about how you don’t and how you think I shouldn’t.) The replacement is also black. Black, it would seem, is the New Black.

I like that I can memorialise such dead gadgetry with a photo.

Kensington roof clutter

I wasn’t exactly busy, either yesterday or today. But I was preoccupied, with other matters. So, here is some quota roof clutter, which I photoed in Kensington last night:

Tate Modern eat your heart out.

Three more DI Meg Dalton books to come (following on from the first three)

Until around yesterday, fans of Roz Watkins’s DI Meg Dalton (who include me (Roz being my niece)) had to be content with knowing that there were, or would be, for sure, in all, just three Meg Daltons to be read. There was the first, The Devil’s Dice. There is Dead Man’s Daughter. And in 2020 there will be Cut To The Bone. So, if you liked the first Meg Dalton, you could only be sure of two more books spent in her grumpy but appealing company.

But yesterday, with the announcement of a further three-book deal between Roz and her publisher, that three has now turned into six.

What this means is that if, before yesterday, you were wondering whether to make a start with this series, your best case would be that you liked your first Meg Dalton and would have two more to enjoy, one straight away, and another one quite soon. But now, if you like the first Meg Dalton you read, there will be five more.

Accordingly, the economics, if that’s the word, of reading about DI Meg Dalton’s adventures and ordeals have radically altered. Worst case, you won’t like the first Meg Dalton you read, and that will be that. That hasn’t changed. But if you like that first one, then the eventual reward that will follow just got massively bigger.

All of which means that there will now be an increased demand for the two early Meg Daltons, the two that have actually already been published.

Now is also a good time to be buying the very first one, The Devil’s Dice, for another reason, which is that Amazon is now selling the paperback of this for just £2. And actually you now can get it for under a quid from other sellers. Well worth that sort of money, I’d say.

All of which I learned from following Roz on Twitter.

Here is something of what I thought, of the second Meg Dalton, Dead Man’s Daughter.

Some housekeeping

Yes, following on from yesterday’s cricket dramas, the mundane matter of how photos look, here, on this blog.

You will recall that last week, GodDaughter2’s Sister and I were wandering about in London. After we had passed through Trafalgar Square, we carried on, across the River, and then along to the Oxo Tower, up which I had never been and up which GD2S now guided me. Here is how the top of that Tower looks from just underneath that top:

Now for the housekeeping. The photo I just uploaded to my blogging software is 1000 pixels across. The blog software cleverly shrinks that photo on your screen, to make it fit the full width of the posting.

However, here is another photo I took from that same spot, of the two Blackfriars bridges, road in the foreground and the railway station bridge behind it, with a little clutch of those Ghost Columns (also featured in photo 4.3 of this recent photo-collection here) in between. (Top right, you can just make out the Millennium Footbridge.) This photo is, as of now, 1500 pixels across, and if all now behaves as it has been behaving, this photo will now look, on your screen, rather less wide:

The effect is not always visible. You have to widen out the blog posting before you spot the difference. But when you do, you see that the Tower Top is wider across than the Bridges.

Which is strange. What I would like would be for the blogging software to shrink the photo that is 1500 pixels across down to the exact width of the posting, but no narrower, just as it did with the 1000 pixel photo above, of the Tower Top, no matter what the size of the screen you see all this on.

Don’t worry. I’m not asking you to sort this out for me, unless you are Michael Jennings, the man who got this blog going, and who has more recently promised to give this matter his attention.

If you are not Michael Jennings, the purpose of this posting is, however, more than just a matter of showing you a couple of (hope you agree) nice photos. I am also interested in illustrating how an aspect of modern life consists of people like me (who don’t know how all this stuff works) asking people like Michael Jennings (who does know how a lot of this stuff works or failing that knows how to find out how it works) to make stuff we put on the internet look more nearly as we would like it to.

An ongoing agenda for this blog is the texture, so to speak, of modern life. And this particular sort of techno-relationship, between a circle of tech-ignorant people and … That Guy, to whom they all go for answers to conundra of this kind, is very much part of how we all live now. Why be ashamed of any of this? Why not turn it into a blog posting? It’s interesting.

If, despite not being Michael Jennings, you feel that you nevertheless have something to contribute in this matter, feel entirely free to comment. I like comments, and am grateful for all the ones I get.

By the way, if you never have to ask That Guy for help, of the approximate sort that I have just described, then you, for your particular circle of acquaintances, are probably That Guy yourself.