More London

Back in March 2019, on the same day and just before I photoed these photos, I photoed this photo:

What I like about that is what I also find weird about it, which is the way that this metal circle of 3D map information kind of hovers weightlessly over the pavement.

Luckily I soon found another photo which explained this weird effect with logic:

But now, there was another mystery. What is “morelondon”? Turns out it’s More London, which was the place where I was.

Here are some more photos I photoed at the same time as the two above:

The reason I made them look so small in this posting is in the hope that you will be deceived about what is going on, in photos 1 and 4 there, 1 especially, 4 in a general way, but 1 in a very particular way. Click and you’ll surely see what I mean.

The strange coloured-in statues are, I now learn, by Stephan Balkenhol. More about him here. At the time I recall wondering if they were Art, or just advertising of some kind. Art, it would seem.

A Japanese lady sits on a shop front

Photoed by me last Tuesday, in Acton:

See eleven more photos of this mural and further information about it here.

As my title says, I like how Fin Dac has used the details of the surface he was faced with, turning bugs into features.

Fin Dac is Irish, so this is cultural appropriation. Which is fine. If we’re not going to allow cultural appropriation, we might as well close London down now.

Mirror and white

As I said, I didn’t do much photoing when I met up recently with GodDaughter2. But I did do some. Of this dazzling object, for instance, in a shop window:

This is why I love digital photography. I would hate to live with that Thing on a permanent basis. But photoing it was great fun, not least because I had no idea how it would turn out, what with all those reflections.

I called the photos “Silver+White”. But … silver? Is “mirror” a colour? It is, see above, now.

I made me think of Jeff Koons, whose work is of this same sort of tastefulness and restraint, is it not? Has Koons ever done a car like this? I googled “jeff koons silver car”, and got the answer. No, he has never done a car like this. But, he has done a car like this. A BMW as it happens. Again, glad someone photoed it, even if not me. But, definitely wouldn’t want to own it.

Big Things combined differently

I was in John Lewis in Oxford Street a few days ago, and despite being encumbered with two huge new pillows in a vast bag, I managed to photo this photo:

The inevitably artificial light was unhelpful and I couldn’t get far enough away to capture it all properly, because well, I just couldn’t. There was stuff behind me, stopping me. But nevertheless, there it is. It is made of wire, attached to the wall with those little plastic thingies with a single nail.

Here, purely for context rather than artistic impression, is a close-up of the plugs at the bottom of this Thing, showing the manner of this Thing’s construction:

I rather think that the idea was that the parts of this Thing made of one big wire circuit, the black wire rather than the grey wire, would be able to light up. But although that plug is in the on position, no light is manifesting itself. Ah well.

I collect graphical representations of London of this peculiar sort, often just by saving the graphic, but also by photoing (scroll down a bit there) such things. Here (scroll down again) is a three dimensional version of the same strange thing.

The strange thing being how the individual Big Things of London are always, in these graphics, or models, or (sometimes) faked photos, combined in new, inaccurate and often rather creative ways. It’s like they’re chess pieces. Hey, I wonder how Big Ben would look if it was right behind Tower Bridge! Hey, what can we see differently by looking at it through The Wheel? Let’s put the BT Tower right next to the Shard! The Tower of London next to Battersea Power Station!

I know London well, but other cities far less well. Is this a particularly London thing, or do all cities do this, in their graphic representations of themselves? I sense that London is rare in having just so many of these rare and rather quirky Things, highly individual and highly recognisable, that just beg to be played around with. But maybe lots of other big cities do the same, with all the individual and quirky Things they’ve got.

Upside down pylon

A pylon is just a pylon, but if the pylon is upside down, it must be art, because what else could it be? Also, the bloke who turned it upside down gets the credit for this, rather than the people who made the pylon. Them’s the rules.

My photo of this pylon, which is in the vicinity of the Dome, photoed earlier this month:

More dramatic photos of this upside down pylon here, and here.

My photo is of particular interest to me because I photoed it with my new mobile phone, rather than with my regular camera, which for various boring reasons had run out of SD card space.

Taxis-with-adverts photoed five years ago

For quite a while now, I have been curious as to when my habit of photoing taxis-with-adverts kicked in. I’m still not sure, but by August 2015 (August 15th 2015 to be exact) this habit had evidently become well established, because on that one day, I photoed all of these photos:

Why do I like such taxis? Why do I like photoing them? And why do I like displaying arrays of such photos here at my blog? Similar, yet different. Identical shapes, but highly variable decor. I’m sure there must be some sort of psychological test that could be inflicted upon me, basically one for identifying nutters (“people with mental health issues” seems to be the latest iteration of such parlance), in which I would score heavily enough to cause a bit of concern, more so than if most of you mere readers of BMNB were made to take such a test.

Regular commenter here Alastair said of an earlier such taxis-with-adverts array that some sort of art might be contrived with these photos. My first reaction when I read that was that this was merely a polite way of saying what I just said in my previous paragraph, given what art often is these days. But Alastair had something political in mind, concerning how privileged and capitalistic these taxis are, in whom they serve and in what they advertise.

But my interest in taxis with adverts is aesthetic. I simply like how they look. Out there in the streets of London, and in my photos.

Patrick Crozier and I talk about French military disappointments (and so does Antoine Clarke)

These disappointments happened in 1870, 1914, 1917, 1940, 1944(?) and 1954. We don’t talk about them in chronological order, because we started with 1914, which was the failed French Ardennes offensive, right at the start of World War 1. But events in all of those years get a mention.

Listen to our conversation here, where there is also lots of further detail from Patrick. Under where it says “Notes” there are 20 items of relevant information, any one of which could have been expanded into a decent blog posting in its own right.

But hello, what’s this? It’s a conversation between Patrick and our mutual friend Antoine Clarke, whom Patrick and I mentioned in our conversation, several times. This was recorded nearly a decade ago. Not having heard it before, I listened to it last night, further delaying me in putting up this posting.

My main reaction to what Antoine said is that, clearly, what I said about how the French “self image” switched, in Parisian artistic circles, from warmonger to peacenik, took its time spreading to the rest of the country. Antoine talks vividly about his ancestors telling their children that the reason they were born was to get Alsace-Lorraine back from the Germans. Also, he said fascinating things about reparations. French had to pay reparations to get the Germans out of France after the 1870 disaster. And they paid the lot, and the Germans left, far quicker than had been expected. Everyone chipped in voluntarily. I knew none of this.

In general, I think that following our chat about Lockdown, Patrick and I showed a return to form, assuming I’m allowed to say that. Maybe you’ll think better of our Lockdown chat than I do, but for me the trouble with that was that all I recall us doing was expressing our own opinions, much as anyone listening could have done for himself. But people listening need to be told at least some things they didn’t already know, just like Antoine does in his talk with Patrick, for instance with all that stuff about reparations that I knew nothing about. At least, when we talked about France, Patrick and I had read interesting books which people listening might not have read. Patrick had been reading this book, and I’d been reading this book. (I copied both those links from Patrick’s Notes.) That may not be anything like an eyewitness account following one of us having been present as a small child at Dien Bien Phu, or a great uncle reminiscing about bombing French civilians following the D-Day landings. But it is something.

Thoughts provoked by a Paul Graham piece about privilege

Paul Graham:

There has been a lot of talk about privilege lately. Although the concept is overused, there is something to it, and in particular to the idea that privilege makes you blind — that you can’t see things that are visible to someone whose life is very different from yours.

But one of the most pervasive examples of this kind of blindness is one that I haven’t seen mentioned explicitly. I’m going to call it orthodox privilege: The more conventional-minded someone is, the more it seems to them that it’s safe for everyone to express their opinions.

It’s safe for them to express their opinions, because the source of their opinions is whatever it’s currently acceptable to believe. So it seems to them that it must be safe for everyone. They literally can’t imagine a true statement that would get them in trouble.

And yet at every point in history, there were true things that would get you in terrible trouble to say. Is ours the first where this isn’t so? What an amazing coincidence that would be.

Surely it should at least be the default assumption that our time is not unique, and that there are true things you can’t say now, just as there have always been. …

This is a particular version of the general tendency to believe that now, finally, this or that age-old problem has been solved. In all previous times, speech was unfree. Now, people can say exactly what they like!

One of my favourite of such intractable problems is the one about how to look after the very poor and very unlucky. When the Attlee welfare state got into its stride, the error of supposing “welfare” to have been sorted was rampant in Britain, although it has abated now, following many bitter welfare state experiences. Looking after the poor has always been and will always remain very hard. How to separate the deserving poor from the undeserving poor? How to provide help without introducing moral hazard? These questions are very hard, have always been hard, and will always be hard.

I am listening to two smug young white people on the radio smugly assuming that their generation has a unique ability to sort out racial problems and unfairnesses, unlike all previous generations, who were either too wicked or too lazy. That they might be introducing new race-related indignities and insults and assumptions does not seem to register. You surely know the sort of dilemmas I am thinking of. Solve racism by assuming everyone is equally qualified! Solve racism by talking about it endlessly and encouraging the downtrodden to blame everything wrong with their lives on racism! Solve racism by never talking about racism and just self-fulfillingly prophesying that, now, it’s not a thing anymore! Solve racism by encouraging the downtrodden to find ways through racism and around racism! All these notions have truths in them, and dangers attached to them.

An equal and opposite error to this sort of temporal arrogance is the belief that the wrongs of our own time are unique to our own time. I regularly hear it assumed that there is something uniquely mediocre and corrupt about our current gang of politicians, uniquely trashy and mendacious about our media, uniquely ugly and ridiculous about our art, uniquely huge about the gap between our very rich and our very poor, uniquely bad about the behaviour of kids these days. Wrong again.

Many things have got much better. Many problems are solvable and have been solved, or will be. Some time around 1780, all the graphs of human comfort and wellbeing stopped being damn near horizontal and switched to being damn near vertical, in a good way. Ever more people since that magic moment have been able to do things for themselves and each other that nobody could do for anyone before it. We in Britain call this event the Industrial Revolution and those of us Brits who know about it are very proud of the part our ancestors played in this dramatic and continuing improvement in human affairs. The greatest form of historical myopia in the world now, certainly my part of it, may well be the unawareness of the fact of this amazing transformation. (Caused by the unique awfulness of our education system. Our teachers are the worst there have ever ever been!)

Patrick Crozier and I will be talking about this Industrial Revolution in our next recorded conversation.

The Broadgate Tower … etcetera

The Broadgate Tower, because I like it. This particular City of London Big Thing is in a slightly different style to the more celebrated Big Things just to its south, in that it is one of those towers that is pretending to be a little clutch of separate towers. No one of these towers is that distinctive, but together they make a pleasing aggregate. (Also, the late afternoon sun can bounce off this Thing in a way that is downright spectacular, but that’s for a different posting.)

The “etcetera” bit of this posting is because although the Broadgate Tower was my officially designated destination for the afternoon, the weather was rather grim and as you will see, my photos of the Tower itself didn’t come out that well. Better were the close-up views of diverting things that I also photoed that day. My taxis-with-adverts habit had by then kicked in, and the adverts on taxis look pretty good whatever the state of the light is. And adverts in general were a source of photo-fun on that particular day, what with that part of town being so very different from the part where I live:

We start at whatever station that was that I went to to get started. Hoxton? Shoreditch High St? Don’t know? Didn’t take (but should have taken) a photo-note. Then we get several photos of the Broadgate Tower, and in among them, the real fun starts, in the form of the signs and adverts and other curiosities I encountered. I ended up in the City, where quite Big Things are reflected in other Bigger Things.

There’s even a bridge, of a sort that I really like, one that joins two buildings across a narrow street. It’s a double-decker bridge, which I particularly enjoy.

Today’s weather is rather grim. However, these photos were all photoed on July 27th 2015, exactly five years ago to the day. The weather was, as already stated, rather grim on that day also. But, I hope you agree that I worked around it okay.

Food and drink makes it into the categories list because of the bottle tops, which adorn a pub and which add up to a male figure, in the manner of a Gormley project. But: not. Also, one of the taxis says to just eat.

Poetic perfection in a reopening pub

Rebecca Day tweets:

I’ve spoken to regulars Chris and Jimmy. Jimmy hasn’t gone to bed after his night shift tarmacking the roads. He had a shower and came straight here. He described the taste of his first Carling as being like an ‘angel pissing on the tip of my tongue’.

In her original tweet, Rebecca Day put “p***ing” and “his” tongue, so I’ve restored what Jimmy said to its original state of perfection. You’re welcome.

One of the services this blog supplies to its regular readers is to pluck occasional pearls of perfection like that (or that (or that)) from the torrent of swine shit that is Twitter, or at any rate what Twitter seems to turn into for many people.