Out east – one year ago today

I looked at what I was doing a year ago today, and came across these photos, of a great little expedition I had out east:

My wanderings began at West Silvertown DLR, from which there is a great view of the Tate & Lyle factory or refinery or whatever it is, the one with the giant can of Golden Syrup attached to it. Other local landmarks included: that cruise ship next to the footbridge, which is actually a hotel; a superb crane cluster off to the north; the Dome; that skilift Thing that goes across the River; and the Optic Cloak. (Where the Eastern God (Buddha?) was, I don’t recall, but I like him a lot.)

This is the area I was exploring:

It’s a place that is palpably in transition. Go back today, and it’ll be different. A year from now, it’ll be different again. In ten years, unrecognisably different. The landmarks in the distance will still be there, but the foreground will be transformed.

The weather that day (unlike the weather today) was a bit grim and grey, but I remember really enjoying this expedition.

I also, that day, photoed nesting birds, cranes, and a book of the week. That last posting having been done as soon as I got home.

By the way, behind the cruise ship is the ExCel Centre, now in the news because it was turned into a hospital. A hospital which had remained mostly empty, and now seems like it will soon shut. Which is good.

Taxi adverts!

It’s almost the definition of History that you feel you can’t talk, in my case blog about, anything else.

But yes, Taxi adverts. I haven’t been going out of my way to photo taxi adverts recently, but when one comes along, I do my best, and as often as not my best is good enough. Here are twenty such taxi adverts, all of them photoed in the first few months of this year:

And here’s a final one, that I photoed this very afternoon, in Parliament Square. I was mainly photoing statues, but this one drove by, so …:

A lot of these adverts now seem very obsolete, although most of them were photoed either before all this History exploded, or while the explosion was only getting started. But now? Well, people are still vaping, and still working away at things like online banking. They’re probably still buying shoes and having them delivered to their homes. But not a lot of regular shopping is now happening, except for food, and not many people are now wandering about in London paying careful attention to all of these adverts and consequently buying this particular frock or that particular pair of shoes, or this other taxi app.

Those who are still wandering about in public spots are the anti-socials, like me, taking exercise, or in my case exercise and photos (and doing some food shopping), and all keeping ourselves to ourselves just like always. I mostly don’t have other photoers to photo now, but otherwise, for me, it’s pretty much pleasure as usual.

Red carpet photos

Exactly a week ago, I spent my last day before You Know What erupted all over us, wandering around London, before attending an amazing chamber music concert at the Wigmore Hall.

During these wanderings, I encountered a red carpet, outside the London Palladium, in Argyll Street. Normally when you see a red carpet like this red carpet, you also see stars of stage and screen prancing about on it. But there is also something appealing about just seeing the red carpet, starless. Like this:

As you can see, it took me a while to feel my way to the ideal view of this red carpet, the one that captures its full and complete spiritual essence after which no further photoing was necessary. But if I just showed that final photo, all you would would have seen would have been pure spiritual essence. The mere carpetness of the carpet might not have come across. So I supplied all the other photos I photoed, to provide context.

My camera was more interested in the temporary railings close-up than it was in the signs announcing what the event was to which this red carpet was contributing. But I can tell you that this event was the National Prince’s Trust and TK Maxx & Homesense Awards 2020.

Congratulations to Phidizz, Alisa Ali, Alan Davies, Charleigh Morritt, Heathfield Community School, Kayanne Bond, Vicki Frost, and Akeme Cox, for being awarded, respectively, the HSBC UK Breakthrough Award, the Watches of Switzerland Group Young Ambassador of the Year award, the Ascential Educational Achiever of the Year award, the Delta Airlines Rising Star Award, the Dell Technologies Community Impact Award, the Homesense Young Achiever of the Year award, the Natwest Enterprise Award, and the Global Aga Khan Foundation Prince’s Trust Award.

Join the Police and get yourself nicer eyelashes

Earlier in the week, GodDaughter2 was out West, doing an audition (successfully as it turned out), and afterwards we met up. After dining, we visited the nearby Westfield shopping centre, and while she looked at some shoes or some such things, I took this photo, of an advertising screen, switching from one advert to another:

I only just noticed the above message-collision, while seeking a quota photo. Today was a busy day.

On how we love animals (except when we love how they taste)

While in France, I read the whole of The Square and the Tower, and then embarked upon The Ape that Understood the Universe.

In the latter book, the matter of how humans get all sentimental about animals is mentioned (pp. 59-60):

… Why do so many people take such delight in staring at infant members of other species? It’s not as if, say, porcupines enjoy staring at baby chickens. As with porn, our love of these nonhuman animals is probably not an adaptation. More than likely, it’s spillover from psychological mechanisms designed for more human-centered purposes. There’s a certain cluster of traits that people everywhere find irresistibly cute. This includes big round eyes in the center of the face, a small nose, and plump, stubby limbs. Our affection for creatures with these features presumably evolved to motivate us to care for our own infants and toddlers. But the same features are found in many other infant mammals, and even in the adult members of some nonhuman species. As a result, we often feel affectionate and protective toward these individuals as well – not because it’s adaptive, but just because adaptations aren’t perfect. By the way, as you might already have noticed, the spill over hypothesis doesn’t just explain our fondness for cute animal videos. It also hints at an explanation for a much older and more pervasive phenomenon: our habit of keeping pets.

Motivated I am sure by exactly this sort of fondness for animals myself, I have become more and more intrigued by this general human propensity. Which is why so many of my photos involve non-human creatures of one sort or another.

Here are some of the non-human creatures photos I photoed while in France recently:

Even the photos involving signs urging dog owners to clear up canine crap (photos 12, 14 and 17) are about our positive feelings towards animals, because the offending dogs are pets. And even the two plastic barrier things (photo 16) are “other creatures”, in the sense that we insist on seeing the faces of creatures where there are none, even though these particular non-creatures each have only one eye. Yes, we do love these creatures.

And yet, by way of a corrective, we also do these kinds of things to particularly tasty creatures, in this case to various mammals and to fishes:

Yum.

A Christmas taxi

Whatever the date when you’re reading this, Happy Christmas. Hope you’re having one. Hope you had one. Whichever applies.

Today (as I blog) I did what I have often done on Christmas Days past. I went for a photo-walk. It will probably delay the moment when I stop wanting to cough, but it was good.

I went down Victoria Street to Parliament Square, and then along the Embankment, the plan being to take the tube back from Embankment to St James’s Park. Trouble was, I had forgotten about the tube being shut, so I had to walk back, and by the time I got home I was exhausted. So, just the one photo, for now.

The one I have picked wasn’t the best photo I photoed, but it was one of the most Christmassy (sp?) photos I photoed:

That this was one of the most Christmassy (sp?) things I saw was because this part of London, unlike the West End, doesn’t seem to go in for ostentatious Christmassy (sp?) lighting effects.

That taxi is about the nearest London is going to get this year to a White Christmas.

There were lots of tourists wandering about doing what I was doing, taking photos, mostly with their mobile phones. But I felt like I was the only local, and that’s a big reason why I like going out photoing on Christmas Day.

I We It – January 2004

All this coughing I’ve been doing lately, and the consequent not sleeping properly, is keeping me confined to my quarters, which means that photo-ops have been few.

So, I’ve done more than my usual amount of rootling around in the archives. In which archives, this evening, I found these photos:

I remember being quite impressed by these artworks, when I first came across them, in (as we can see) Gloucester Road tube. Kudos to me for taking a photo of the poster that told me now, this evening, who did these Things and what he called them, as well as just lots of photos of the Things themselves. There’s even a clear date on the poster, which corroborates the date Windows Photo Viewer offers, as the date when these photos were “first modified”.

I do not recall being as impressed by any other artwork in a tube station since then. Maybe this was the first art I ever properly saw (properly because for the first time I was looking for stuff to photo (with my recently acquired Canon A70 (had I had a better camera the photos would have been a lot prettier))) in a tube station, and maybe that’s why it made quite an impression on me.

I say “quite” because even these Things were not really that great. Quite striking. Quite impressive. And more so than just about all Art in the Tube that I have encountered since then, which has mostly been very disappointing. Well, quite disappointing.

LATER (FRIDAY MORNING): The above done in some haste. I now, with some difficulty, found my way to this, which says more concerning the above images. Summary: Corporate capitalism is scary because it is totalitarian. (He’s quoting adverts for various capitalist goods and services.)

Suspicion: he thinks we should all believe in what would actually, I think, turn into actual totalitarianism. He has a quite big point. Corporate capitalism is becoming rather totalitarian. But he is wrong on the even bigger point. No wonder I only quite liked it. It is a quite expert attack on my opinions, and he’d surely agree about that, if about little else of a political sort, if we ever talked it through.

The City – 5 years ago

Horrid weekend, having a cold that I’d postponed on Friday because I had a meeting to host. Sleep shot to hell. Tidying up to be done. So, quota photo time, or so I thought. Inevitably, it got out of hand:

All of that was exactly five years ago, to the day. Having assembled them all, I couldn’t then postpone shoving them up.

There was a Lego Gherkin next to the regular Gherkin. They still thought, or were pretending to think, that they were building the Helter Skelter, which they have now turned into something else, even bigger and a lot duller. Otherwise, it all looked much as it does now.