A gallery of Michael Jennings photos

For the last few weeks, a strange glitch has been afflicting this blog, involving spacing. If I stick up just the one photo, stretching all the way across the width of the blog’s column of text, all is well. But if I stick up a gallery of photos, which is something I very much like doing, there has been a problem. Too much space was suddenly, ever since a recent software update or some such thing, created below the gallery. Any attempt I made to remove this space only resulted in further spatial havoc below, in the form of too much space between subsequent paragraphs of text.

But now, either because the guardians of this software have sorted this out, or because the technical curator of this blog, Michael Jennings, has sorted this out, things are back to how they were. Good. Very good. I attach great importance to how this blog looks. If it looks wrong, I hate that. It demoralises me and makes me want to ignore the damn thing rather than keep on updating it the way I actually do. This was especially so given that galleries look so very good when they are working properly.

Well, as I say, things have now reverted to their previous state of visual just-so-ness. And I will now celebrate, with yet another gallery:

The above gallery, however, is not a gallery of my photos, but rather a gallery of photos photoed by Michael Jennings, all, I believe, with his mobile phone. Not having got out much lately, I have found the photos Michael has photoed while taking exercise, and then stuck up on Facebook, reminding me of how my beloved London has been looking, to be a great source of comfort during the last few months. And I actually like photoing in his part of London more than I do in my own part. This may just be familiarity breeding something like contempt, but is still a definite thing with me.

I started out having in mind to pick just four photos, which makes a convenient gallery. Then I thought, make it nine. I ended up with twenty four. It would have been twenty five (also a convenient number), except that one of the ones I chose was a different shape, which might have complicated things, so I scrubbed that one from the gallery.

But you can still look at that one. Because none of this means that you need be confined only to my particular favourites. Go here and keep on right clicking to see all of them.

I have displayed my picks here in chronological order, the first of the above photos having been photoed in October of last year. The final photo (which is what you get to if you follow the second link in the previous paragraph), of the church, which I learned of today, and which is the only one done outside London, is something of a celebration, of the fact that Michael is now able to travel outside London without breaking any rules, or such is my understanding. (Plus, I like those unnatural trees (see also photo number 9)).

Patrick Crozier, the man I do recorded conversations with (see the previous post), is a particular fan of Viscount Alanbrooke, Churchill’s long suffering chief military adviser during WW2. So he’ll like that this church is where Alanbrooke is buried.

A walkabout five years ago

I am awaiting warmer weather, in the hope that I will then feel up to taking a photo-walkabout, somewhere in London town.

Meanwhile here are some photos from a walkabout I did, walking (about) from the Angel Tube to the Barbican, as late sunshine was replaced by early moonshine, back in April of 2016:

The final photo there is of how a stretch of Oxford Circus Tube was looking on that day.

The lady seen smiling through a window of reflections (photo 10) is the then only very recently (March 31st 2016) deceased Zaha Hadid (as you can maybe guess from photo 11). This was the lady whose buildings only had straight lines in them at all because people will insist that the floors they walk about on and work on are mostly flat rather than curving up and down. Clients eh? Philistines the lot of them. ZHA has (or had in 2016) a building in Goswell Road, and I walked right past it that day, and also had a nose around in it. I remember being surprised, because I had no idea this place even existed.

See also the photo of another portrait picture, this time of actor Charles Dance, which I photoed on this very same walkabout.

How the 1440 bit of Berlin looks now

Incoming from Michael Jennings:

Someone has helpfully provided a photo of the same section of Berlin …

I.e. (see the top of this posting) this section:

This being how this same section looks today:

Many thanks Michael. Michael knows everything about everywhere. But you have to express prior interest in the subject, as I did, which is a good system. If he told you everything about everywhere, all the time, just because he can, that might be a problem. But if he knows the subject interests you, he’s a mine of information. (Some of my best Last Friday of the Month meetings were addressed by him.)

It took me a while to find this place on the Google map of Berlin, but I did find it eventually:

The breakthrough came when, instead of looking only for water, I started looking for lots of bridges.

Like I say, when water does complicated and convoluted things, expect human habitation to be concentrated in that area.

That’s three times I’ve shown that Berlin in 1440 map here. What can I tell you? I like it.

It seems that Berlin has its own version of Tower Bridge


This morning, Twitter showed me this map of Berlin:

Until today, I knew nothing of the origins of Berlin. Cities usually begin with rivers, rivers that wiggle about and create a lot of useful territory next to the river which is closer to all the other such places than usual. So, what did Berlin have in the way of water? The above map says it had and has a lot.

Further investigation of Berlin resulted in me discovering a bridge that I had previously never heard of, namely, this one:

That’s the Oberbaum Bridge. Like I say, never seen nor heard of this splendid Thing until today.

Here’s the same bridge viewed from further above and further away, to give us a bit of the context:

And a pretty boring context it is too, I would say. London, metaphorically speaking, can sleep easy in its bed.

I’m intrigued by what I take to be the updated bit in the middle of the bridge. At first I thought the lower part of the bridge, the road bit, has hinges in it to allow taller boats to go through, but so far as I can make out, this bit is also solid, but the change already made quite a difference to what sort of boats could go through. Basically big river barges, heavily laden all the way across rather than merely with stuff sticking up in the middle. You can see two such boats in the distance. And also another, on the right, which is presumably too big to go through.

I love the internet. Somebody should write a song called that.

But, where in Berlin now is the original 1440 bit, and is there anything now left of it? I don’t see anything quite like those waterways in the map of Berlin now.

Five more crowd scenes photoed in and from the Tate Modern Extension

As I have said here many time before, I love the Tate Modern Extension that they recently stuck behind the original power station. The Extension is the Thing you can see here, centre left, at the back:

It’s not that it is especially beautiful to look at, although liking the Thing itself so much, I have myself come to like how it looks. And I like the Thing itself because of all the fun things I can photo in it and from it.

For instance, I can photo crowd scenes in it and from it, or I could once upon a time. Like this crowd, photoed a bit nearer to it, after I’d gone under the bridge with the railway station on it (Blackfriars):

And here is part of that same crowd, photoed once I was up and in among that crowd myself:

So much for the crowd in the Tate Modern Extension. Now for four more crowd scenes, all photoed in one photo, from the Tate Modern Extension:

Three crowds in three boats there, and another crowd on a bridge, the Millennium Footbridge, another recent favourite addition to the London bridge collection.

Those were the days. May they soon return, which I will believe if and when I ever see it and no sooner.

The day when I photoed all of the above photos was in August 2016.

A regular view of Battersea Power Station – but in the morning!

A couple more photos from Christmas Eve, the first was showing what a weird, for me, time of day it was, even though I was already two-thirds walked home by then:

I know. 10.20am. AM!!! That’s the big clock at the top of Victoria Bus Station. And yes indeed, look at the weather, too.

Yet the funny thing is about that time in the morning is that in many ways it resembles the time when it is about to get dark again.

Consider, for instance, this next photo, of a favourite view of mine taken from the same spot and at the same time as the photo above, but just pointing in the opposite direction:

That’s one of my favourite views in London, being from the road where Warwick Way turns right, past the big bus terminal, over the big railway line into Victoria, and towards Posh Pimlico and its posh antique shops, as you go towards Sloane Square, which was where I had just come from.

I have photoed the slowly changing scene that has been Battersea Power Station over the last few decades, many a time during those years. And I have photoed photos where the evening sun was bouncing up at me like a short-pitched cricket delivery off the pitch in front of me, from railway lines like that. But I don’t recall ever having before photoed Battersea Power Station in the morning and combined that with the reflecting railways lines effect. But Christmas Eve morning having been the morning, the sun was coming from the opposite of the usual direction, and there it all was.

I like how the railway line has to climb, and also curve like that to get itself in line, past those sheds on the left, in order to be high enough and pointing in the right direction to get across the river bridge.

This is really just a posting to see if posting has got any easier from the mess it was yesterday, but I also owe regulars here, after yesterday’s single and decidedly fiascotic (also time-cheated (small hours of this morning) posting. Which means I am now going to save it in my Word-clone before trying to post it here.

Seems to be working better. Good.

Crowd scenes

I’ve never been that interested in crowd scenes, until Sod’s Law swung into action and banned them.

So I went trawling through the archives, and to see if I could find any. I found … a few:

Tate Modern 2004, Hampstead Heath 2005, Farnborough 2012;
Trafalgar Square NFL gathering 2011, Blackheath Concert 2018, View from Tower Bridge 2019;
The Dome 2019, Bryan Caplan Lecture London 2019, South of France classical concert 2020.

That’s the trick of photoing. You need to know what is, at any particular time, temporary. In a few years time, I sincerely hope, crowd scenes will seem the most natural thing in the world. Again.

Wooden sheep out east

So there I was, out east, exploring what was happening to the canals in the Bow, Hackney Wick part of London, photoing photos like this, …:

When, rather suddenly, I came upon this:

All that grubbing around the canal being to create the sort of place where Desirable Apartments can be constructed, and Desirable Apartments need Desirable Sheep Sculptures.

Have you noticed how upmarket sculpture, and also upmarket toys, made of wood, make it very clear that they are made of wood? The woodenness is emphasised. Downmarket sculpture, and downmarket toys, are as realistic as they can be made to be, with the how of it left entirely behind. I veer into toys, because this sheep looks a lot like a toy, I think.

I see a connection between this emphasising of the particular material that the Thing is made of, in sculpture and toys, with Impressionism. Posh paintings, like Impressionist Paintings, make it clear that they are indeed paintings, made of paint, as well as paintings of something. I mean, take a close-up look. Paint! Paintings for peasants just look as much like what they are trying to be of as possible.

“We believe passionately …”

Mick Hartley comments on the statement by Julie Birchill’s ex-publishers about why they cancelled her book:

And you can almost guarantee that if someone states how they “believe passionately in freedom of speech”, it’s a prelude to an act of censorship which proves that, actually, they don’t.

It’s the word “passionately” that is so nauseating, in this context. What this actually means is: “Somewhat less than before this row happened, which we are going to give in to.”

Little, Brown didn’t actually use the word “but” in their statement, to signal the reversal. But, if they had, it would have changed nothing of importance.

On how all new building on a large scale tends to start out looking meaningless

Here are some photos I took in and around City Island in 2017, while it was in the process of being constructed:

As you can see, there are maps and images as well as photos of the finished objects, to tell you what this place was going to be like. And cranes.

City Island is a particularly perfect illustration of what Modernist Architecture has now become, and as I have said here before, I quite like it. I especially like how City Island has what amounts to a moat around it, which gives it the appearance of a micro-Manhattan.

I entirely understand why Ancientists think that Ancientist architecture should also be allowed, and I’d also quite like to see more of that. But I suspect that if there were more of that, even the protagonists of such buildings would find themselves being somewhat disappointed, both in how others react and in how they find themselves feeling about what they were in theory so keen on seeing.

The basic aesthetic problem that new building of the sort we see on City Island is the sheer amount of it that is liable to be happening at any given moment. If lots of buildings are required, all for some similar purpose, then whatever gets built is liable to start out looking and feeling rather meaningless. And that emphatically will apply, I believe, if a mass of fake-Ancient buildings is what happens. That is awfully liable, at least to begin with, to look all fake and no Ancient. To look, in short, meaningless. So, why fight it? Why not build what makes economic sense, in a style that is rather bland, but efficient and reasonably smart looking, and be done with it?

What gives meaning to buildings is not just the way they look when they first appear; it is the life and the work that subsequently get lived and done in them. Because of those things, buildings acquire a particular character, and people start to have positive feelings about those buildings, provided of course the life and work they associate with the buildings is something they also have a positive feeling about.

If people hate what happens in new buildings, they’ll hate the buildings and yearn to see them destroyed, no matter what style they were built in.