London from the air – in 2005 and in 2020

I’ve written here a few times about London City Island, and how a sort of mini-Manhattan of unspectacular but decent looking apartment tower blocks have been built on it.

Well, here are a couple of aerial shots that show that having happened. Here is how things in that part of London were looking in 2005:

And here is the same view now:

This blog actually knows a couple of people who have regular jobs doing tech stuff, but who also in their spare time own and operate photo-drones, and who sometimes visit London. These two are really good photoers, even if they may not be quite your Real Photographers, in the sense of making their living photoing, all their working life. I wish I could tell you that it was one of them who did the above photos, but actually, these photos were done by Jason Hawkes, who is as Real a Real Photographer as you could ever wish to drool over the photos of. (Besides which, no drones in 2005.)

The above two photos are just one pair of before-and-now, 2005-and-2020, photos featured in this amazing Guardian collection of photos of London from the air, with commentary by Hawkes himself attached. All you can do here is scroll back and forth between one such pair, reduced in size to fit here. If that amused you at all, you really should click on the Guardian original, and then scroll down and click on each photo to get the other version. There are, by my count, thirteen of such photo-pairs.

Amazing.

Although this wondrous Guardian offering is a “mainstream media” story, there is no way that it could be shown in all its glory in a mere newspaper. Was any of this in the actual Guardian, the one done with paper and ink and sold in shops?

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.

Camden Highline coming

Glad to see that this project is making progress:

The Camden Highline project, planned to open in phases from 2024, will create a new central London park and linear walking route – inspired by Diller Scofidio + Renfro’s New York High Line – featuring seating areas, cafés, arts and cultural interventions and spaces for charitable activities.

Cultural “interventions”? Does that mean sculpture and stuff? People wearing daft costumes? I guess I’ll have to wait until 2024.

I had already noticed this Camden Highline notion back in August 2017. I even included a map.

A model of London Bridge that is hard to photo

One of the more frustrating of the photo-expeditions I have done in the last few years was one to the Church of St Magnus the Martyr.

I was there, around a year ago. to photo a model of Old London Bridge, which I had found out about in some way that I now forget. And the model was there. That wasn’t the frustration. What was the frustration was that photographically, this model pretty much defeated me. Although clearly visible and clearly identifiable for what it was, it was protected by the photographic equivalent of armour plating, in the form of a very shiny glass box.

I still took lots of photos, and from the selection of those that I now show you, you do get some idea of what sort of model this is and how it looks in its ecclesiastical surroundings:

The less these photos are about the details of the model and the more they are about the model as a whole and its surroundings, the better they are, and I biased my choice of what to post here I had in that direction. So they are worth a click through, if London’s eccentricities and oddities are of interest to you.

I image-googled this model, and the results were not as disappointing as my own efforts but still rather disappointing. This model has been there since 1987, but at no time, then or since, has anyone taken any really classy photos of it, or not any that the internet seems to be have been told about. (If commenters can prove me wrong, I’d be be very happy.)

There are some photos of this model, which are definitely better ones than mine from the point of view of showing the details of the Thing, here. But even that photoer struggled, I think. As did this guy.

It would be nice if this church were to pick itself a Real Photographer, and let him have a go at this Thing, with Real Photographer type lighting, with the glass temporarily removed, and maybe with some specially supplied backgrounds to screen out the church clutter, and also all the uneven light that crashes into the church through its church windows. Maybe let the RP take the whole Thing to a studio of some sort.

That would be nice for the likes of me. But maybe the people running this church already rather resent the number of godless tourists of my sort who already come tramping into their House of God to gawp at and and to photo this bridge model, and who then tramp out again, ever to be seen again unless they want more photos of the model. And the last thing they want is to encourage a whole new flood of such people. If my guess is right, I can’t say I blame them, but it is just a guess and I could be quite wrong.

I could find no reference to this London Bridge model at the church’s own website, but again, that could merely be because I am terrible at searching websites.

There is another picture of this church in an earlier posting I did here about the Monument, showing how near that edifice is to this church.

The Tower Hotel could benefit from Magic Paint

One of London’s more impressive architectural survivals from the Brutalist era is this building:

That’s the Tower Hotel, with Tower Bridge in the foreground. I am fond of this edifice, not only because of its Brutalism, but also because of its impressively cluttered upper reaches, which look like this:

Both of the above photos were photoed by me in 2016. (What is that VW sign doing there? Never noticed that before.)

I love the combination of orthodox Brutalism in the main body of the building and anarchy on the top of it. (See also this splendid edifice of the same architectural vintage.)

I also recall that this hotel played a prominent support role in the final scene of a long ago movie called Sweeney!, which was a movie spin-off from the TV show of that name. A sinister villain played by Barry Foster is being put on a boat by British spooks, after he’d stayed the night at the Tower Hotel, which then looked quite new and “modern”, not dated at all. But Regan (John Thaw) showed up and arrested the Barry Foster character for making money off of immoral earnings, and the Barry Foster character was immediately shot dead, by two other villains in a taxi, to stop him spilling any beans about even more sinister villains. (Regan was angry with the Barry Foster character because he had had a prostitute (Diane Keen) killed, and Regan wanted revenge.) All of which took place on the river bank between the Tower Hotel and the River. For some reason, this scene had a big effect on me, and a lot of the reason for that was the Tower Hotel.

The reason I mention this building is that it is a fine example of the sort of building that might go up in public estimation if it were decorated with the Magic Paint that I mentioned-stroke-invented in this earlier posting about Colourful architecture in the past and in the future. This was about how various ancient buildings, now as dreary in colour as the Tower Hotel has always been, used to be a lot more colourful, and about how similar effects might yet be contrived again, with … Magic Paint. (Magic Paint is paint that can take on any painted pattern at the flick of an electronic switch. Inventors: get busy!)

And the reason I mention this earlier posting about Magic Paint, colourful gothic cathedrals, and the like, is that someone on Facebook with quite a following has recently linked to this old posting, causing a rather gratifying spike in traffic here during the last few days. But, all I can learn from my traffic analysing page is that the link comes from somewhere on Facebook. It could well be someone I know, or know of, and therefore someone that some of my readers might know, or know of. Anyone? Maybe you, sir or madam, have just come from that very Facebook location of which I write, and can tell me who it was. That’s if you feel inclined.

“Any bridge constructed by an engineer who believes that should have a large warning sign attached …”

Douglas Murray writes in the Times about the Pluckrose and Lindsay book that is subtitled “How Activist Scholarship Made Everything about Race, Gender, and Identity -And Why This Harms Everybody”. And the invaluable Mick Hartley quotes Murray, at greater length than I am about to, out from behind the Times paywall:

Pluckrose and Lindsay have waded through all the core texts that I and other critics of this school have had to read. They have also contended with many less familiar ones. What they reveal is essentially a self-sustaining academic Ponzi scheme. Where good writing might once have been seen as a successful effort at rendering complex ideas understandable, researchers in these studies have become virtuosos at nothing other than making highly contestable ideas incomprehensible. Take Homi K Bhabha in full flight: “If, for a while, the ruse of desire is calculable for the uses of discipline soon the repetition of guilt, justification, pseudo-scientific theories, superstition, spurious authorities, and classifications can be seen as the desperate effort to ‘normalise’ formally the disturbance of a discourse of splitting that violates the rational, enlightened claims of its enunciatory modality.”

Nor is this rot limited to the humanities. The social justice movement has Stem in its sights too. One recent book, Engineering and Social Justice, claimed that “getting beyond views of truth as objective and absolute is the most fundamental change we need in engineering education”. Any bridge constructed by an engineer who believes that should have a large warning sign attached.

We are talking about the collapse of civilisation. This is no mere metaphor. Spouting gibberish about Shakespeare or Coronation Street is one thing. Teaching techies to do technology in a way that goes beyond its “enunciatory modality”, in plain English which does not work properly, is something else again.

When bridges start collapsing, plagues start being spread, food starts being poisoned, cars and trains start falling to pieces and killing their passengers, because of people being anti-educated in this fashion (there are plenty of other reasons why such disasters happen to do with the fact that such stuff is difficult to do), that will be the moment when civilisation reasserts itself by starting to shut down all the university departments in the grip of this insane idiocracy. And, if necessary, entire universities. Or not, in which case our civilisation really will start collapsing.

Five pendulums getting into step

Or should it be “pendula”? Probably not, because that sound vaguely sexual in a rather creepy way.

I am now assuming that this video is showing the same phenomenon as the wobbling of the Millennium Bridge when it first opened.

Tweet-commenter Alma Cook also mentions how periods in groups of women get synchronised.

And yes, I found what I was looking for. Tweet-commenter Morris Jasper says:

This is essentially what happened with the ‘wobbly’ Millennial Bridge.

But as several tweet-commenters say, it’s not right to call any of this “spontaneous”, if by that you mean happening for no reason. The pendulums are all resting on the same oscillating platform. Just as all those people on the Millennium Bridge were walking on the same wobbling bridge.

Talking of pendulums, I am fond of György Ligeti’s Poème Symphonique For 100 Metronomes. They don’t synchronise themselves, because the structure they rest on is not wobbling. They just stop. One by one. It takes just over eight minutes for this to happen. (I also like Ligeti’s piano music. (But now I really digress.))

Win a home in London!

I haven’t been getting out enough, what with my back hurting. But today, I was determined to get out and about, as well as needing to do some shopping, and I decided to do that even before doing anything here.

The plan was I might manage to photo something of interest. When I got home, and took a close look at this, …:

… which shows an advert for a lottery the winner of which gets a new home in London, I thought maybe I had. Whenever I hear that you can win something as a prize in a game of chance, I suspect that the thing in question is proving harder to sell than had originally been assumed and they’ve got some to spare for things like lotteries. Did this advert signal a London new housing slowdown?

I went to the website in the advert to investigate. And it would appear that my suspicions may have been excessively suspicious. This is an Irish fund raising operation, and apparently someone won a similar competition in 2018. But on the other hand, that could mean that even back in 2018 they were having trouble shifting newly built London homes.

One thing I will say, which is that I’ve not seen this advert on a taxi before. Maybe the number of people in London who are only able to think of owning a London home by entering a lottery has now gone up. That’s not the entire market for London homes. That’s global. But it doesn’t help, if you’re selling these places.

Whatever the truth of such speculations, I did at least, at the website in question, encounter an excellent photo of the London City Island tower cluster, photoed on a nicer and brighter day than today has been:

London City Island has already been noticed with a posting here, not so long ago.

May 30th 2020 – photography is light

One of the last really successful photo-walkabouts I had in London was on May 30th of this year. I remember having two designated destinations, rather than just the one. There was where they are starting to build these Things, as noted in this posting, and then there were some statues, of Lord Dowding and Bomber Harris, back across the River, that I wanted to check out. As I duly did.

But before all that, I did lots of photoing in the victoria Street Parliament Square Westminster Bridge part of town where I so like to photo:

Those photos are not the ones I might normally have chosen. I would have gone for more information, and less artistic impression (which quite often involves suppressing mere information thereby isolating the mere effect and making it that little bit more effective). But the light that day was so strong, and doing such amusing things that my photo-selection is strongly skewed in the direction of lighting effects and away from mere facts about statues, buildings and the like. So: lots of reflections and lots of shadows and lots of silhouettes, all of which work especially well in very strong light, and lots of light illuminating those big sheets that scaffolders like to decorate their scaffolding with these days.

Originally the photo that caught my attention was photo 12, and the original plan was just to show that one. But I soon realised that there were lots more I also felt like showing you, so there they all are. I hope that at least some coming here will be entertained.

Two early e-scooter sightings

I only seriously noticed e-scooters this year. But whenever I seriously notice something, the pattern is usually that I have already noticed it, but rather less seriously.

So it was with e-scooters. Here are the two earliest photoings of these devices that I’ve so far been able to discover in the photo-archives.

This one was spotted and photoed by me in July of last year, in the vicinity of the Tate Gallery (ancient version):

And then, two weeks later, in August, there was this, beside Victoria Dock, out east:

A piece of up-and-coming technology being driven towards some ancient tech that is now only a sculpture. When I say ancient tech, I’m talking about the lower reaches of the old dock crane there, not the ship. The ship is still a real ship. Well, nearly. It’s now a hotel. But it could surely still travel, if business would be better elsewhere. And behind all that is the footbridge across the dock, a particular favourite of mine.

My next task is to discover what e-developments suddenly made e-scooters possible, during the last five years or so? Was it just that e-motors got smaller? Was it the batteries that made the difference? Once again, the Internet falls over itself to tell me how to buy an e-scooter, but is less forthcoming about why I am suddenly able buy such a thing at all.

My taxis-with-adverts enthusiasm is no more than an aesthetically driven hobby, the way my granny used to collect ornamental plates, or so I recall it. Watching what happens to and with e-scooters during the next few years will be to watch a little slice of transport history.