The return of the black-all-over London black cab

I was out and about in the Victoria Station area this morning, and it was very cold and very bad photoing light. But, taxis with adverts usually photo well. I saw two taxi adverts I’d not see before.

This, for perfume:

And this, for I don’t know what, but I’d not seen it before:

It had the look of the sort of advert that only happens when when the real advertising is happening a lot less, and they have spare slots going.

Because, that was my overriding impression. Hardly any taxis with adverts, whether I’d seen them before or not. And lots of taxis without adverts:

The ratio was about three or four to one, no advert to advert.

Then, the clincher:

That’s right, a taxi with an advert for taxi adverts. A taxi advert in both senses, in other words. An advert for taxi adverts, on a taxi.

So, here is just another business going through very bad times. Has anyone, I wonder, committed suicide because he’s in the taxi advert business, and is heading for unavoidable financial disaster? It’s not a silly question.

There are just fewer people, and in particular far fewer high spenders and deciders-of-these-things, wandering about in London being influenced by such adverts.

I hear conflicting rumours and stories about just how bad, medically speaking, the Coronavirus story really is. In particular, I am hearing that it’s not just deaths that are freaking out the decision-makers, but the serious and often long-term damage done to people who don’t die. But I am still strongly of the belief that the cure is one hell of a lot more damaging than the disease.

My first encounter with Jeppe Hein’s Modified Social Benches outside the Royal Festival Hall

I am happy to note from my site stats system that a posting I did here about Jeppe Hein‘s Modified Social Benches has been receiving a regular trickle of visitors, as has this posting of photos of these red benches done more recently, during Lockdown, with consequent silly plastic tape all over them.

So, here are some more photos of these red benches, photoed by me on the very first occasion that I saw them, or at any rate the first time I properly noticed them, on May 22nd 2017:

As you can see, they were still working on their installation. But already, you could see that they were being well received. I now realise that the biggest one to be seen in these photos, the one in photos 3, 6, 7 and 8, was only there for a short while. It doesn’t appear in my later postings, so it had to have been gone. I would not have missed it otherwise.

In the first posting above, the photos were all done in rather dim weather, which emphasised how colourful these things are. The above photos, done in bright sunlight, are no less colourful, I hope you will agree.

Looking towards Vauxhall

I really like this photo, with its excellent detail in unpromising light, with its only occasional bits of colour and its big grunge boat in the foreground, by which I mean forewater:

St Thomas’s Hospital on the left. Westminster Bridge. Parliament on the right, with half of the still heavily scaffolded Big Ben on the right. And in the distance, the towers of Vauxhall, but with Millbank Tower at the right hand end of the distant towers, that being on the north bank. I know all those well.

It’s the latest photo posted to Facebook by Michael Jennings. Michael often says of his photos of London that all they are is photos of London: Michael Jennings – in London, United Kingdom. But sometimes, as with this photo, he has a little more to say:

The cluster of buildings that is growing between Vauxhall and Battersea Park on the south of the Thames really is quite something.

This cluster being quite near to where I live, I can confirm that Michael is not wrong about the scale of what is going on over there.

I can’t tell from the info I looked at what camera Michael used for the above photo. Another case (see also: this) of an iPhone?

Colourful mural in Chelyabinsk

I get regular emails about new architecture, and trust me, there’s less of it happening now. And what there is now being done is mostly generic machines-for-living-in and machines-for-working-in. The age of starchitecture is pretty much over, for the time being. Covid? That hasn’t helped to be sure. But it felt like it was slowing down well before that.

So, to cause a stir and get noticed, what do “designers” now do? Answer: They paint eye-catching murals on the faces of all those regulation boxes.

Thus:

The official explanation of this mural is that it’s something to do with the environment, human impact on, blah blah. Like that’s a bad thing. But, as Mick Hartley (at whose blog I found this) says:

… you’d be forgiven for not quite grasping the ecological message.

Indeed. It looks more like a celebration of how humans are able to subjugate their environment and make it their own. I’ve never been to Russia, but my understanding is that their “environment” is a lot scarier than ours is, and that they consequently sentimentalise it a lot less than we do.

But whatever this Chelyabinsk mural may “mean”, it is yet another straw in the wind of colourful applied decoration that is now seriously blowing around the world. If you can’t do new buildings of note, you can still paint the buildings you have, old and new, in a newly colourful way.

Also, I suspect that paint for use outdoors is getting better, as in fading more slowly. I tried googling about this, but all I got was stuff about how to become a better painter of indoor pictures. Can anyone offer any pertinent links on that subject?

A gallery of mostly mundane things – unmundanely lit

As I spend less time accummulating photos and more time contemplating the ones I have, I more and more see that. for me, light is everything. Photography is, I find myself telling myself more and more often, light. For me, bad light equals bad photography, the sort of photography that involves lots of pressing of things like the “sharpen” button in my not-Photoshop programme. Good light presses that button for me.

October 21st 2018 was a good light day. In the days after it I did several postings based on photos I photoed that day. I did my favourite ever photo of Centre Point that day. I photoed how very blue the blue sky was that day. I photoed Bartok. I photoed Chinese lanterns. I photoed Compton.

I spent some of October 21st 2018 in the area around and to the north of Centre Point:

One of those photos, number 22 (of 25), requires a bit of an explanation. I like to photo the BT Tower. And I like to photo the reflection of the BT Tower in the big building at the top end of Tottenham Court Road. That photo is one of the few times I managed to photo both these things at the same time.

I think my favourite of the above photos may be number 2. Scaffolding, lit in a way that makes it, I think, downright magical. I also particularly like number 3, where you see both a reflection and a shadow, of the same pointy building.

f your are inclined towards enjoying such things, then enjoy. Click click click. It needn’t take you long.

Is “unmundanely” a word? It is now.

London buses in times past

Incoming from one of the Robs:

Hello Brian,

Hello, one of the Robs.

Hope you are well.

Mustn’t grumble, as people say when inclined to.

YouTube’s mysterious algorithm just recommended this video to me and I thought it was your cup of tea.

It is.

Maybe the past was more colourful than we tend to imagine.

Rob

The past in this case being the 1920s. I think most of us get that life has always been in colour, albeit not necessarily all that colourful, long before photography learned to register this fact.

To be more grateful and more serious, what struck me was those curved staircases at the back of the buses. The Boris Bus clearly harks back to that shape. I had not realised this.

YouTube, having established that I wanted to watch this, then showed me some film from before WW1, back in the age of horse-drawn buses. Apologies, I lost the link to this, but basically we’re talking about a world dominated by these things. Was one of the driving force behind the motorisation of buses the fact that so many of those horses were sent away to fight in the above mentioned World War? Well, no, the timing is all wrong. Dragged out of retirement, more like. By the time that war had started motorised buses had already arrived in a big way.

And as soon as they did, lots of adverts.

Police horses

Friday is my day of the week for creatures of all sorts, and today BMNB has already featured a butterfly and a bee. But now, four horses, spied and photoed by me, near my home, on my way home from shopping, this very afternoon:

The first two. brown and black, were past me before I could get my camera out from under my shopping, so I only got them from behind. But the second two, black and white, I saw coming from a distance, so I got a better photo of them. But then, another photo of the rear end of the white horse seemed in order, because the colouring of this horse was so pleasing. I seem to recall, as a kid, being told that white horses are called “grays”. This photo perhaps explains why that might be. White horses of a particular sort have a natural tendency to turn gray, in parts. Is that it? Could well be.

These were Police horses, of course, them being the only sorts of horses to be seen around London SW1. Police horses need to live near where these demos are liable to happen, but in between demos they need exercise. They can’t just be stored in a shed, like guns or truncheons or complicated cars. And, around where I live is the perfect spot for this exercise. It’s an area bounded by busy roads with names you’ve heard of, like Victoria Street, Horseferry Road, and by the River Thames. But in between these roads, nobody goes, because this place is not on the way to anywhere else. So, perfect for SW1 Police horses to stroll through without any nasty surprises or causing any traffic complications with their slow pace of movement and their preference for walking next to each other.

East India DLR station

Yes, it’s 2017 again, April, and I’m on my way home after a hard afternoon’s photoing out east. I get to that moment when suddenly, snap, my energy is all gone, and I just want home. So I drag myself to the nearest rail station. And this time, that rail station was East India:

Something to do with the East India docks, I presume.

Why show photos of that? Well, London can’t be all spectacular Big Things and lavish world renowned river views. Much of the secret of great cities is the amount of humdrum and utterly replaceable stuff they contain, and replaceability equals growability. A city can’t be great if it’s not growing, and it can’t grow if everywhere in it is finished.

As for the architecture, if that’s the word, of places like this DLR station, that’s now reached that awkward spot of being too new to be old and picturesque, but not new enough actually to be new any more, like pop music that your elder brother likes.

Which means it’s architecture that nobody (apart from me) thinks worth photoing. People just use it constantly, and forget about it. But there it is. One day some of it will be old and picturesque, and there will be complaints about it being torn down to be replaced by further humdrummery, or perhaps by resplendent and finished Big Things.

Meanwhile, I find that such railway stations are not only deserving of themselves being noticed, but are often, because of being elevated (to enable their tracks to go over existing roads) very good spots for noticing other things. Like the Shard (8), or that building rather cheerfully tricked out in yellow, green and blue (7). The building in (4) was trying hard to look good also, even if I reckon it failed. Or how about that strange bus stop road colouring that looks like a carpet has been unrolled (6)?

I’ve never understood those strange rolls of wire that you see beside railways (11). Is that for if they find they need more wire, which they can then pull towards them through tubes? That would make sense.

I do understand selfies, and the hair pats that so often go with them (12). I reckon they were lining themselves up with the Shard.

Perhaps most diverting of all, to me anyway, is the contrast between the extreme fussiness and complexity of the main body of this thing (1) (2) (3), with all its “expressed” structure (think of the just-that-bit-earlier-than-this Lloyds building in the City), with the relative banality of what the fuss is all in aid of (5). The architects of these places had their heads full of bigger, more award-winning Things than they were allowed actually to build, as architect heads so often are.

Pink trees

Trees:

After they’d had a makeover from this guy.

As to where the trees themselves are, is this somewhere in New England? He didn’t say.

London sunset – August 2016

Now, a London sunset photoed in 2016 starts to mean more, metaphorically, than it did, literally, at the time:

In 2016, this was just another evening with great lighting effects. But is there about to be a metaphorical sunset for London on a far greater scale?

Once again, cranes. And I love how the evening sun turns boring blocks into giant gold bars.

But will London go on being golden? Just how bad will the reckoning be, when the problem stops being how to end Lockdown and becomes how to pay the bill for Lockdown. I don’t doubt London’s future greatness. But how long will it take for that to become clear to all?

The first Lockdown I could take, given that I and most of my friends could just about afford to take it. The next one, the one now being threatened, is far more depressing to even contemplate, given than it has no business happening at all, and given that the people presiding over the current scaremongering are the very ones we will be depending on to get us back on track.