A colour photo taken over a century ago of one of my relatives

This remarkable photo dates from 1903.

I recently encountered it at BabelColour, which I follow, and where I learned who it was:

It shows Rear Admiral William Acland (1847-1924) & was taken by his sister Sarah 117 years ago using the Sanger Shepherd process.

Follow the first link above for a bit more about the Sanger Shepherd process.

This got my attention in quite a big way because I am distantly related to this Admiral Acland. He wasn’t a direct ancestor, or I don’t believe so. But the maiden name of my grandmother on my mother’s side was Acland, and she was the daughter of someone just like this Admiral. I possess a book entitled “Aclands and the Sea” which I acquired when my mother died and I cherry-picked the books in the family home where I grew up, and in any case I recall that my mum’s family were related to various Aclands, including, for instance, this guy. Although I couldn’t find in this Aclands and the Sea book any references to Aclands and their daughters, it’s the sort of book you only have if there’s a family connection. Not quite, so to speak, a real book. So, that Admiral Acland is like a first or second cousin of mine, about five times removed, or some such thing.

I haven’t linked to where I confirmed that my granny’s maiden name definitely was Acland, because, well, because I didn’t. What I will say is that one of the many things the internet does is tell each of us, as and when we ever get interested in such things, lots of stuff about our forebears and relatives, without anyone having to spend weeks grubbing away in libraries. That’s quite a change. I don’t know what it means exactly, but surely something.

On reflection, it may be more significant that we can, should we wish to, research the relatives of people we bump into and get curious about. That never used to be easy but now is. We now live, that is to say, in a world where uncongenial relatives have become that little bit harder for us to forget about being related to.

Red dog – red cat

Mick Hartley has been spotting red pets, out East in Mick Hartley land:

Woof. Miaow.

In London, and I suspect elsewhere, interesting new murals now seem to be more numerous than interesting new buildings. And more interesting, I’d say. To put this another way, murals are now the latest architectural thing.

One of these muralisers should be let loose on this building.

Mirror and white

As I said, I didn’t do much photoing when I met up recently with GodDaughter2. But I did do some. Of this dazzling object, for instance, in a shop window:

This is why I love digital photography. I would hate to live with that Thing on a permanent basis. But photoing it was great fun, not least because I had no idea how it would turn out, what with all those reflections.

I called the photos “Silver+White”. But … silver? Is “mirror” a colour? It is, see above, now.

I made me think of Jeff Koons, whose work is of this same sort of tastefulness and restraint, is it not? Has Koons ever done a car like this? I googled “jeff koons silver car”, and got the answer. No, he has never done a car like this. But, he has done a car like this. A BMW as it happens. Again, glad someone photoed it, even if not me. But, definitely wouldn’t want to own it.

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.

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.

A mural on the South Bank – the context and The Photo

Yes, this is one of those the-context-and-The-Photo postings. The point is The Photo, and the photos that precede The Photo are merely there to explain a bit about where we are.

So, context:

And now, The Photo:

What made me want to post this was the effect of a regular painting not on a smooth surface but on a rough surface. To show that rough surface, I had to get close. But then, all context is lost, so see also: context.

Photoed by me on the South Bank, on August 15th 2015. So, exactly five years ago today.

Now I’m going to try to find out who did this mural. Google, google. Best I can do: grems. Is that Graham Prentice, who took the photos? Maybe. Don’t know.

The Optic Cloak from the Trafalgar Tavern

Yesterday I did some grumbling about the light and the weather on the day that Alastair and I went walkabout, exactly one week ago, from Blackheath to the River and then beyond. But as that day went on the light got a bit better, and when I tried photoing the Optic Cloak, that came out rather well:

It so happens that the day when I first properly noticed the Optic Cloak, January 17th 2019, was also a day when Alastair and I met up for drink+chat+walkabout, in Docklands. Later I continued walking on my own, and that was when I first set eyes on the Optic Cloak. If you want to know something of why I like this Thing so much, follow that link.

I photoed the above photo at pretty much the same time I photoed Nelson, who stands outside the Trafalgar Tavern. This Nelson is another of my very favourite pieces of sculpture in London. Which shows I’m not picky about style. Modern, trad, I just like what I like.

Colourful messages in Victoria Street yesterday

One of the reasons I foresee a lot more colour in London in the next few years is that colour is all part of the imagery of thew political orthodoxies of our time.

These three photos, which I took yesterday, all illustrate this opinion of mine, or I think they do:

Left, 55 Broadway, flying a rainbow flag where previously flags like the London Underground flag or the Union Jack would flutter. Middle, a sign signifying the now near-universal worship of the NHS, outside the entrance to Westminster City Hall. Right, a rainbow very recently applied to the road. Who by? For how long? Not sure.

This sort of stuff is now the colour scheme of public virtue. These colours are not merely pretty. They mean something. They are all messages. Sexual identity flexibility. Ethnic diversity. These colours proclaim virtue, and denounce vice.

So, if you are against things being painted or decorated thus, that means you oppose virtue and you favour vice. This is why the colours will spread, because who’s going to stop this? Stopping it will mean favouring vice, and who’s going to do that?

Purple pavement passage

Which sounds like a description of a particularly florid piece of writing about a pavement, but actually I’m talking about this:

Passages like that one are one of the oddities of modern urban life. They happen when a rather posh building is being erected right next to a narrow pavement, over which they want to get some serious work done, but beneath which they do not want to antagonise potential customers and word-of-mouthers thinking about and talking about the people doing the building, thereby threatening the subsequent selling of the apartments or offices in the building, when it’s finished. If the developers mess with the lives of passers-by while they’re building, that at least suggests that they might have a similarly casual attitude to their actual customers. There is so much money at stake here, so big a gap between feast or famine for the developers, that a bit of extra bother at ground level, just next to the site, is well worth going to. Factor in the recent intensification of health-and-safety, and the desire by developers to avoid damaging fights with local bureaucrats, and you have yourself an entire new urban form, the scaffolded pavement passage.

In this particular one, which is in Victoria Street next to and beneath The Broadway, the shininess of the cladding on the inside and the colourful lighting combine to striking effect. We’re looking south east towards Parliament Square. The right hand photo is basically a close-up of the middle of the left hand photo.

I took these photos yesterday afternoon. As with so much that happens in cities these day, if you don’t like it, you needn’t fret. It’ll soon be gone.

Antisocial Benches

Remember Jeppe Hein’s red seat sculptures outside the Royal Festival Hall. Well, when I went back there, in early May of this year, when Lockdown was getting started, to see how the red seats looked in bright sunshine (strictly for the essential exercise you understand), I discovered that what Stein called his Modified Social Benches had been modified, to look like miniature crime scenes. They had been smothered in red and white tape, thus:

However, towards the end of the time I spent photoing all these benches that had been modified to make them anti-social, I photoed this lady and her bike, resting in one of the benches:

She either didn’t know she wasn’t supposed to be sitting there, or she knew but she didn’t care.

You can see how they wouldn’t want the tape to be, to echo the name of some popular entertainers of yesteryear, simply red. (a) Too much like smothering these things in red tape, and (b) what with the benches already being red, the red tape might be rather hard to see.