A giant pink flamingo now presides over London

On the same photo-walk that I photoed the Red Lion (see immediately belw) I also came upon this:

And I got a hell of a shock, I can tell you. I am fond of graphic representations of London’s ever more entertaining skyline, so I took a close look at this piece of graphic fun and games. But but but!!! had they suddenly constructed a giant flamingo in the middle of London which I hadn’t heard about until now?!?

Turned out the Wheel is now the last minute dot com “London Eye”, and the pink flamingo is something to do with last minute dot com and the fact it helps you book hotels in foreign parts. At the last minute, presumably.

A giant flamingo might be quite a good idea. How about somewhere out east, beyond the Thames Barrier? That part of London could use a bit of livening up, with a giant tourist trap. Ideally, you could go up its vertical leg in a lift. Then stop off at a restaurant in the middle. Then climb up its neck on a staircase, from which you could view the estuary, and central London.

The South Bank (red) Lion

There has been lots of photo-reminiscing here lately, so here are some photos I took much more recently. Well, in May of this year anyway:

Yes, it’s the lion at the South Bank end of Westminster Bridge.

This South Bank Lion has quite a history, the strangest thing being that it used to be red. I was going to show you the “photo” of the lion when it was red that I found
here
, until I realised it was faked with Photoshop. But that link is worth following.

The lion hasn’t always perched on the bridge. His first home was on top of the Lion Brewery, a booze factory once based on a site now occupied by the Royal Festival Hall.

I bet the brewery would have made a better concert hall than the accursed RFH.

This photo, on the other hand, of the lion with men and scaffolding is genuine:

The photograph above was kindly shared by Nick Redman of London Photos, whose grandfather (second on the left) was one of the scaffolders who helped move the lion from the soon-to-be-demolished brewery.

I found that here. Also well worth clicking on.

I assume this must be why so many pubs are called “The Red Lion”.

Apparently Emile Zola was very fond of this lion. Blog and learn.

A smart and skinny skyscraper in Melbourne

Some Australian architects called Bates Smart have completed a very skinny skyscraper in Melbourne.

Skinny skyscrapers are now a definite trend. I recall speculating that this trend might have something to do with views having become a bit more desirable. But it is clear that what is really happening is that plots of available urban land are getting smaller, while structural engineering is getting cleverer. They build these Thin Things because they have long wanted to, and because they now can.

Personally I like the look of these Thin Things very much. Your typical old school skyscraper is often suitably elegant from afar, but when you stand right next to such a Thing at ground level it can be a bit overhearing, and just plain big. This Thin Thing has, at its base, a little decorated frontage left over from the previous building, that is no wider than a terrace house.

So, Keeping Up Appearances at ground level, while above that, the new stuff above soars off into the sky. This is a style I really like. Front doors need to announce themselves, in the established language of older and smaller buildings. What happens above them can just be tall and shapely. (That creaking sound you hear is the cadaver of Ayn Rand, turning in her grave.)

Since the top of this Thing is sliced off in the above-right photo, here’s how that top looks:

We have plenty of Keeping Up Appearances buildings in London, but I wish we had more of these Thin Things. Something to do with the soil? Maybe later. Sooner rather than later is my hope.

Linseed

Photoed by Martin Cook:

Are the tracks so far apart because they’re made by a crop sprayer? This is the countryside, so what do I know?

This and three more, bigger, here.

And in case you were wondering:

Linseed in uk mostly is grown for animal feed, pet food and human consumption. Lot goes to markets abroad to animal feed to produce animal products with higher omega-3 levels, such as meat and eggs etc.

Here.

A rush hour traffic jam!

Yesterday, late afternoon, in Vauxhall Bridge Road:

Okay, not the prettiest photos, either aesthetically or technically, that you’ll see today. But that’s not my point. My point is: London is now getting back to whatever it decides is going to be the new normal, and you can bet that the new normal will include rush hour traffic jams, whatever else turns out not to be present any more.

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.

Cat in Istanbul shop window

As not promised (see below), here’s a rather charming photo that Michael Jennings took in Istanbul last December, of a shop window:

Not just signs, but the place where they’re done from. And a cat. I recall Michael writing, somewhere, somewhen, that there are many cats in Istanbul and that they are very well respected by the humans of that city.

You can always tell how well cats are treated in this or that place that you visit, by how sociably they behave towards you. When cats hide from you, that’s a sign of a nasty neighbourhood, I think.

On how I may now not resume buying classical music magazines

Every month for as long as I can remember, I’ve been buying paper copies of Gramophone and the BBC Music Magazine, “Music” being how the BBC refers to classical music.

All over my home, these magazines have accumulated in shelves and in heaps:

I haven’t had these magazines on order, because I don’t trust my neighbours not to let in burglars through the front door we all share, and because I like the exercise of actually walking to a shop and buying these magazines.

Which means that during the recent Plague, I’ve not been getting either of these magazines. The shops where I would have bought them have all been closed.

One of the many changes I am now contemplating in my life is: Not resuming buying these magazines. Are many people now contemplating a similar decision with regard to these or other such printed publications? Surely, they are. Are many people contemplating buying printed publications they do not now buy? I doubt this very much.

If “normal” ever returns, it will, for most of us, in big ways and in small ways, be a different normal, not least among those who publish the magazines like the ones in my photo. It’s not just the obvious ways in which we will remain nervous of the Plague returning, though that will definitely happen also. It’s that by being jolted into doing this for the first time, and not doing that any more, we are all now shedding old habits and being pushed towards acquiring different habits. I try to resist generalisations involving words like “we all now …”, but I really do think that the above generalisations are largely right. (You need only look at the recent numbers for postings here per month at this blog, on the left, to see this kind of thing happening to me and maybe therefore also for you.)

So, habits are being dropped, and acquired. And, are you, like me, and provoked by the above experiences, going beneath and beyond such changes of habit, and asking yourself: What other habits should I now decide to shed, and decide to acquire?

After all, and especially for the likes of me, life has just got shorter.

Civilised disagreement works better face-to-face (therefore cities have a future)

The present dose of Plague History we’re having has caused much pessimism concerning the future of big, densely packed cities. Being an enthusiast for big city architecture, especially the seriously big and eye-catching sort, I am now more than ever on the lookout for people saying things about why cities confer, and will continue to confer, an advantage upon all those who live and work in them.

So, I particularly noticed this Bo Winegard tweet, when I encountered just now:

It depresses me how quickly a person on twitter can go from disagreeing with you to cursing and insulting you. Strikes me that there’s probably an evolutionary mismatch because almost all of our interactions were face-to-face. People are much nicer when they have to look at you.

I think that captures a key advantage of face-to-face communication, which is that it makes it more likely that those face-to-face communicating are that bit more likely to do it like ladies and gentlemen rather that like loutesses and louts.

I think people on twitter shout, so to speak, partly because they can. But also, maybe, because they feel they have to, to get their point across. If you do one of those oh-so-gently meaningful and very politely phrased criticisms, on Twitter, or for that matter during a conference-at-a-distance, you are liable to fear that your point will get lost. Your iron fist will be completely smothered by the velvet gloves you chose to wear. Face-to-face, you can literally see and hear and feel your point getting across. Or not, in which case you can politely rephrase it.

Being able to disagree in a civilised manner, in a way that doesn’t leave lasting scars or permanent feuds, is fundamental to the successful functioning of any organisation.

My dad was a barrister, in American: a trial lawyer. British barristers are always careful to call each other “my learned friend”, and the more fiercely they are quarrelling, the more they are careful to scatter these words upon all the insults they trade. That always used to amuse me, when my dad talked about it. But an important point was embodied in such drollery, not least because dad often spelled it out explicitly. When arguing, be polite. The more fiercely you argue, the more important politeness becomes. Twitter seems to make that harder. Face-to-face communication makes it easier.

So, cities will survive. Face-to-face communication is now one of their core purposes.

Skateboards with one big fat wheel will never catch on

Photoed by me, next to the River, earlier this month:

Here is another Micklethwait’s Law to offer to the world, in the process of being perfected. It goes roughly thus: No form of transport which makes you want to put on knee-cap protectors will ever catch on with regular people.

I am now seeing at least two e-scooter users every time I go out my front door, and I do mean every time. I now never don’t see e-scooters speeding by. My point here is that these people typically do not wear knee-cap protectors. These are regular people who feel very safe on their e-scooters. Will this change?