This photo, which I just this moment encountered on my Twitter feed, is exactly the photo I would have photoed, were I ever allowed into such a place:
Up to and including the facts that (a) I would have been indistinctly reflected in the mirror at the back, (b) everything is ever so slightly not quite vertical (that being a constant problem I have), and (c) there is a cat involved.
Castelnou is a small and impossibly picturesque hill town in the lower reaches of the Pyrenees, in the far south of France. GodDaughter2’s parents and I went by car, just over five years ago now, in May 2016, to check it out. And yes, the weather was as marvellous in Castelnou as it has recently been unmarvellous in London.
Nowadays, I find that my expeditions have as their officially designated destination a spot where I have arranged to meet up with a friend and exchange chat, rather than just a particular physical place I especially want to check out. But as my death approaches, not as fast as I feared it would last Christmas but still faster than I had previously supposed that it would, I find that mere Things, in London or anywhere else, aren’t enough to make me get out of the house at the time previously determined. Partly this is because if I fail to arrive at the Thing at the planned time, the Thing won’t ring me up and ask me where I got to, whereas people are inclined to do just that. And partly because the Internet tells you lots about Things, whereas actually meeting people bestows knowledge and pleasures more profound and subtle than you could obtain by any other communicational means.
The point of this Castelnou expedition was that it was with GodDaughter2’s parents, not that it was to Castelnou. Castelnou was just an excuse for us all to spend time with each other, plus it gave us things to talk about.
But of course, once in Castelnou, I photoed photos galore, of which these are just a few:
A few more things to say.
First, there are cats and dogs involved (as well as a bird statue), hence this posting appearing here on a Friday. The cats were very friendly and sociable. The dogs were more cautiously proprietorial, but none were aggressive. Which I think reflects well on us tourists. We all behave well towards these creatures, and they behaved towards us accordingly.
Second, what’s wrong with being a tourist? I am sure that “tourists” have been featured on the popular TV show Room 101. But if I was ever on Room 101 I would want to banish from the world “tourists who complain about all the other tourists”. Tourism is a fine thing, enjoyable for those of us who do it or we wouldn’t keep doing it, and profitable for those who cater to our needs. Many good things happen because of us tourists. Besides all the deserving people who get to earn a living from it, there are the conversations that tourists have with the locals whom they encounter, and with each other, which can sometimes have have wonderfully creative consequences. Many an economic success story has started with a conversation involving tourists. Tourists bring the world, as it were, to particular places, and places into contact with other places, and thereby are able to provoke creative thoughts that would otherwise not have occurred to anyone.
Does tourism “spoil” places like Castelnou? Hardly. I’ll bet you Castelnou is a much happier, prettier and more interesting place than it was before it started attracting tourists.
And finally, Castelnou is a fine example of an aesthetic process that fascinates me more and more, which is the way that when an architectural style first erupts, it is hated, but then when it settles back into being only a few surviving ruins, people find that same style, to quote my own words in the first sentence of this posting, impossibly picturesque. Castelnou began as a castle, which then gathered dwellings around it. And you can bet that the people in the vicinity of this castle hated it and feared it, that being the whole idea. But once the castles stopped being built in such numbers and when the castles that survived began turning into ruins, they then also turned into objects of affection, first for locals, and then, even more, for visitors from many miles away.
Tangenting somewhat, I was yesterday predicting that the next wave of architectural fashion is going to be a lot more colourful. And it is. But, lots of people will, for as long as this new fashion lasts and seems to be on the march (the military metaphor is deliberate), hate that fashion, and regret the passing of the drearily monochromatic tedium that they now only grumble about (because that is now still on the march).
Is Castelnou perchance the French, or maybe the Catalan, for Newcastle? Sounds like it to me.
Oscar, the cat of GodDaughter2’s parental home down in the South of France, is a favourite object of photographic devotion here, and on the right there, the latest Oscar photo, from GD2D, showing him in one of his favourite resting places.
One of the many malfunctions of the Old Blog was that if I wasn’t careful, photos next to text, like that one, would crash into the posting below, if there wasn’t enough text. Doesn’t happen here. Good.
I could go all ironic and have a big old sneer at these little trinkets, but the truth is I entirely get it. Cute animals are … cute. I don’t buy things like this, if only because I have nowhere I could put them, and because I hate dusting. But I love to photo such things.
I am also fond of saying, on account of it being true, that we hate architectural styles that we feel threatened by, but later often fall in love with those same styles once they are in retreat.
Something very similar applies to animals. For most of human history, animals have been threats as well as sources of food, if only because they demanded scarce time and effort to be caught or killed, and scarce resources for them to be looked after. You no more loved most animals than you loved mountains (mountains being a similar story). But now? Well, put it this way. At present animals are still hunted a bit, and still imprisoned and then eaten a lot, but it won’t be that long before a majority of the animals on earth are our pets.
What’s going on in this photo is that I was recently standing on a pavement in the South Kensington area, photoing a fake person who is wearing a real jacket with a tiger’s face on the back of it, but it’s a bit hard to make out the tiger’s face because some buildings across the road, very well lit by the bright sunshine that day are simultaneously being reflected by the window that separates me from the fake man and his tiger jacker:
I really like this photo. It resembles this earlier effort in being a puzzle caused by the reflection in a shop window colliding with what is behind the shop window and in the shop itself. But unlike that earlier photo, this one is a puzzle that is soluble, and one that I can fully explain.
As I have earlier said, I think that one of the features of architectural modernity is that there is now lots of shininess, and consequently lots of reflection going on. Modernity didn’t start out so shiny, because there was lots of concrete and brickwork to start with, and glass was a lot less marvellous then than it is now. But now, architectural modernity has got very shiny indeed. So, scenes like that shown in my photo above are not mere accidents. They capture something basic about the visual experience of living in a modern city. Such images are or a thing that we constantly see, and perhaps even a thing that you constantly notice. I don’t think it’s just me, in fact I know it isn’t.
In the bottom right hand corner of the photo above, part of a parked vehicle is to be observed. Modern vehicles being another characteristic source of modernistic shininess.
Friday being my day for non-human creatures, Good Friday is a good day for a good non-human creature. So here, again, is Oscar:
Master of all he surveys, in a small town in the South of France, at the top of the home of GodDaughter2’s parents. My thanks to GD2D (her dad) for the above photo, and also for the phrase I used as the title of this posting, in the email he just sent me, with the above photo.
I encountered this glorious airplane on Twitter, but just now Twitter is refusing to load onto my computer, for some idiot reason to do with me refusing to update or generally do as commanded, so you’ll just have to take my word for it. The posting in question is, in any case, unworthy of a link because if was one of those “15 airplanes that should never have been built”, adorned by an annoyingly small version of the above photo. Like a fool I took the bate bait (see first comment), and there were more like a hundred airplanes, many of them rather sensible, but none of them were the above goose airbus. Liars. I really should know by now not to disappear into these multi-click lists of foolishness. But then I googled “goose airbus” and found the bigger version of the photo that you see above.
Speaking of clickbate clickbait, yesterday I emailed David Thompson, with news of this crane inserts London bus into London pub garden posting here, in the hope that he might include it in his Friday ephemera clutch today, and he did (“Crane use of note”). So traffic here has jumped upwards. Check it out if you’ve not seen this. It’s a great photo. (This posting is now going to be another of these.)
Yes I haven’t recently resorted to the SS-W TwF for a Friday Cats and Other Creatures posting. But in the small hours of last night I did two short postings, neither of which had anything to do with any Creatures and that needs putting right. So, here we go.
We’ll start with what sort of creature we humans are. It turns out we’re a type of fish.
But is the dog “practicing faces”? Or is it just trying to get some sort of reaction out of … another dog?
The thread that follows includes the claim that only three species besides us know that a reflection of me in a mirror is a reflection of me in a mirror: dolphins, great apes, and elephants.
But in my opinion, some dogs and some cats also pass this test. Not all dogs and all cats, because many dogs and many cats are thick as two planks. But many are not, and in my opinion are capable of working this out. As one tweeter says: “Some dogs” do have the sense of self that a mirror might reveal, if they get it. Some dogs do work out that “that’s me there”. Ditto some cats.
By the way, the reason cats and dogs vary so much in intelligence is that they have been bread by humans who were selecting for other qualities besides intelligence, like: docility, obedience, sociability, and cuteness. On the whole, intelligence was not being selected for (especially not with cats), and consequently it varies hugely. In my opinion.