The plan is to spend my blogging day writing a piece for Samizdata about why there has been, as yet, no Paper Money Collapse. So, here, today, I will fob you off with a photo of a Taiwan Blue Magpie:
Impressive, I hope you agree.
Colourful photoing like this is creating a very colourful virtual world. Then the kids go outdoors and see Monochrome Modernism, and they say: Brighten It Up! I’m not saying I’ll necessarily like all of what then happens, but I am saying it’ll happen. We are now seeing only little glimpses of this, but any decade now the floodgates of architectural colour will open.
Expect big paintings of, e.g., Taiwan Blue Magpies, on the sides of Modernist boringnesses.
Architects only get to do big buildings when they are about sixty, seventy, eighty, ninety. Until then, they get fobbed off, and that’s if they’re lucky, with jobs like designing street furniture. This is because the people who decide who does big buildings are themselves so very, very old.
Now, look at these photos again, and imagine all the children in the photos thirty years older, and doing big noticeable buildings.
It will be a different world.
And as I have recently already said and will now say again, lots of people will hate the new style and suddenly become nostalgic for the dreary rubbish we all have to put up with now.
Architects are soon going to get over their obsession with black, white, brown and grey, and generally pale and lifeless shades of boring … and start doing proper colour on the outside of their now boring buildings, big time. This is a stylistic pulse that I do happen to have my finger on, … and I know whereof I speak. And it can’t come too soon, I say.
Well, when I wrote that I was feeling impatient. My message today is: it’ll happen, but I’ll have to wait a while. The kids doing this are still only kids. As in: around thirty. But give it another thirty years …
Just over a year ago, in May 2020, I went walkabout, across the River, after Lockdown had really started to kick in. At the time, I wrote here about how I crossed Lambeth Bridge, and then …:
… wandered in the general direction of Waterloo, and made a strange discovery, which I’ll tell you all about some other time, maybe, I promise nothing.
Just as well I said that, because nothing further materialised here about that strange discovery, until now:
I love that these galleries are now so much easier to contrive, and so much easier to click through for those on the receiving end of them, than they used to be with the Old Blog.
As for the photos in this gallery, I remember at the time thinking that maybe if I wrote here at the time about this discovery and how I wandered about in it, I might get myself into trouble, for, I don’t know, trespassing or something. The place was totally deserted, and I remember getting the distinct impression at the time that the front gate at the top of those stairs was only unlocked because whoever should have locked it forgot to lock it. So, I hesitated to show photos like these, and then the photos sank into the ocean that is my photo-archives, and I forgot about them.
I suspect that my then undiagnosed lung cancer was already making me a much more timid soul, less inclined to just barge into whatever places I felt like barging into (provided only that nobody physically stopped me), and more inclined to fear being filmed and then arrested. Silly, but as you get older, the answers you get when you ask yourself the question “What’s the worst that could happen?” start getting a lot worse. At that stage, I was still willing to do dodgy things, but was already reluctant to brag about having done them here. What if some legit inhabitant of this strange place were to google its name and encounter all my photos? What if I then got blamed, however unfairly, for some disaster that happened there, at around the time I visited?
Until I stumbled upon it, and stumbled up the stairs into it, I had no idea at all that this place even existed. I imagine these “creative” little districts eking out their existence where the owners are still making up their minds what they will really be doing with their property, and in the meantime could use a trickle of rent from the kind of people who are trying to get started in this or that line of “creative” business, but who don’t have a lot of heavy and complicated kit that they’ll have to shift if they make any sort of success of what they’re doing and then need to move somewhere smarter. I plan to return there to observe any changes I can, although I promise nothing.
In among all the creatives, there seemed to be some railway inspectors of some sort. Like I say, a very strange place indeed.
In several of the murals, there are strange creatures, as well as people. Hence this posting appearing on a Friday.
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.
When I met up with GodDaughter2 last week at the Blue Fin Building I got there a bit early and had some time to kill. Which of course I did by photoing, one of the photos I photoed being this:
What appealed to me was how over-the-top colourful this fake-floral display was, so far over-the-top that it quite triumphed over the unseasonal and deeply gloomy weather that day. (Today has been a bit better, or at least a bit warmer.)
But what, I wondered, is “APEROL”? At first I thought APEROL was the name of the indoor place behind this display. Turns out APEROL is a drink, which has been putting itself about lately, and that the above sign was because APEROL was sponsoring a pop-up, whatever exactly that may be. See categories list below, which I now realise must include “Getting old”. No doubt someone can – and perhaps even will – explain. I’m guessing it’s an outdoor eatery or drinkery of some sort which isn’t so much built, but rather simply assembled in a hitherto public spot big enough to accommodate it, made into a trend by Lockdown. If that’s right then I assume that money changed hands, in the direction of the local authority concerned.
Fine by me. The architecture surrounding this sign (we’re a place that calls itself “Bankside”), is, especially at street level, as modernistically dreary as you could ever hope not to see, and anything that brightens up the area, like a piece of colourful product placement, is to be welcomed. It certainly cheered me up.
Architects are soon going to get over their obsession with black, white, brown and grey, and generally pale and lifeless shades of boring – even the Blue Fin Building isn’t properly blue – and start doing proper colour on the outside of their now boring buildings, big time. This is a stylistic pulse that I do happen to have my finger on, unlike the pop-up thing, and I know whereof I speak. And it can’t come too soon, I say.
Top row left to right: eastern box turtle, pancake tortoise and Bell’s hingeback tortoise.
Middle row left to right: radiated tortoise, Florida box turtle and Burmese star tortoise.
Bottom row left to right: spotted turtle, Bourret’s box turtle and European pond turtle.
For me, the bottom row is a bit of an anti-climax, but the top two rows are amazing. Blog and learn. Although, what I have not yet learned is why it is useful for turtles and tortoises to look like this. It surely can’t be camouflage, can it? Mimicry of something very scary to predators? But who are the predators of turtles and tortoises? Big bastard birds presumably. But what do I know? In the meantime: Wow.
This was the sort of thing I had in mind when I did this earlier little posting. For me, this photo is, if anything, too picturesque, like a very sugary pudding. But, I can definitely see why he’s proud of it. I would be if I’d photoed this, sugar or no sugar.
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.