One Park Drive – in January 2019 and now

For me, January 17th 2019 began wonderfully, with scaffolding.

I was on my way to meet up with occasional commenter here Alastair James, in Docklands, and it was a great day. Meeting him in Docklands was great, and what I saw afterwards was great too. Highlight: the Optic Cloak, one of my favourite pieces of London public sculpture.

In among those highlights, I also got to see the architectural state of affairs in Docklands. It helped that it was January so the trees helped rather than getting in the way.

I was especially impressed by One Park Drive, which has a real Chicago vibe to it. Right down to “Park Drive”, which sounds very Chicago to me. Definitely USA.

On the left, below, is how One Park Drive was looking in January 2019:

And on the right there is how it is looking now, in a Mick Hartley photo posted on his blog yesterday. He calls Docklands:

A ghost town waiting for the world to start up again.

Which sounds about right. Except that ghosts don’t like hot and sunny weather, do they? (Good news: nor does the Coronavirus.)

I hadn’t realised, when I saw it, how much taller One Park Drive was eventually going to be. Like so many buildings these days, it maybe looked more fun when being constructed than it looks now it’s finished. All those ziggy-zaggy bits of concrete, somewhat smoothed out in the finished Thing.

New Surrey stand and thing next to the Pavilion

And they look like a typical London aesthetic cludge, so I guess they’ll fit right in.

Yesterday evening, I did a posting here which collided cricket (some recent and not so recent dramas) with architecture (how the middle of London was looking not so recently). The abrupt change of subject was signalled, as often here, by the word “LATER”, the photo of central London’s Big Things having been an afterthought of dubious relevance to what had preceded it. The only connection was that the two photos in the posting were both photoed on the same day, exactly ten years ago yesterday.

But this posting combines cricket with architecture by being about cricket architecture. Cricket has lots of architecture of its own and is constantly adding to it.

To set the scene, below is a photo I took last autumn.

Me and my Surrey cricket mate Darren went to a very boring game at the Oval on September 23rd of last year. But we had other plans beside watching the mere cricket. We began by creeping up, unnoticed, to the top of the big new stand that faces the Pavilion, at the other end of the ground. I got to take lots of photos, of the stand and from the stand, before someone came up and told us to leave. You can see a few of the photos I took that day in this earlier posting. Those photos were architectural in that they showed lots of the surrounding London architectural scene that you can see from the top of that new stand. But here is another architectural photo I photoed that day, from that same stand, showing how things were then looking in the vicinity of the Pavilion opposite:

The lighting is not good in that, but you get the idea.

Anyway, the reason I mention that expedition and the above photo is that this morning, the Surrey CCC Twitter feed featured this photo:

They’re adding a new stand and a new clutch of indoor spaces next to the Pavilion. The Pavilion being as fine an example as you could hope to see in London of Ancientism, that is to say ancient in atmosphere even when first built.

What they are now doing will end up looking approximately thus:

As always, because it’s London, I’ll probably get entirely used to it and end up liking it, but as of now I think that’s hideous, an absolute textbook example of how not to add modern architecture to ancient or Ancientist architecture.

What a shame they couldn’t get the money together to have started doing this, which was the plan in 2017:

One more marvel that never was to add to London’s copious collection of such dreams.

However things turn out, and you never really know how they’ll turn out until they finish it and let you see it for real, one thing’s for sure, which is that this view, from the summer of 2015, …:

…, which I used to enjoy photoing whenever Darren took me up to the top tier of the Pavilion, is now a thing of the past.

WIll a similar view be photoable from the new stand, and if so, will random people like me be allowed actually to photo it? Fingers crossed. In other words, the opposite of what you do with your fingers when actually photoing.

The ups and downs of cricket (and of the City of London)

Ten years ago today, England beat Australia in the Final of the ICC World Twenty20, in Bridgetown Barbados. It seems that Australia batted first, lost early wickets and never recovered.

I watched the final dozen or so overs of this game at the home of Michael Jennings:

Happy memories. What could be better than watching England beat Australia at cricket, at the home of a friend, who is an Australian cricket nut?

My hard disc has a much better memory than I do. I had no recollection of this until I just looked up May 16 2010 in the photo-archives. And up came all these photos of a screen, telling of England’s triumph.

The Man of the Match was … Craig Kieswetter. Whatever happened to him?

It wasn’t good:

Craig Kieswetter, the England ODI and T20 wicketkeeper who was Man of the Match in the 2010 World T20 final, has announced his retirement following the eye injury he sustained last year.

Kieswetter was struck in the face when a ball went between his helmet and grille when playing against Northamptonshire, breaking his nose and damaging his eye socket. He returned for two matches at the end of the 2015 season, then went to play T20 in South Africa, but struggled with the effects of the injuries.

It could have been far worse. That I had definitely not forgotten about.

LATER: Here’s how the City of London was looking that evening, photoed from Michael’s local railway station:

No Cheesegrater. No Scalpel. And no Big Lump, the latest biggest one that has no silly name because it’s too boring. Not, in other words, yet, this, which is how Things are now, give or take a few cranes.

Five years ago today on the South Bank

Yes, another retro-photo-meander, on May 11th 2015

Photo 1: This doesn’t exactly nail down the date, does it? This could be a headline from any day during the last two decades. False, every time. The only time we got tough on the EU was when the mere voters voted to leave.

But Photo 2 is suitably fixed in time, the time when they were just finishing those rather lavish looking student apartments, on the far side of Westminster Bridge. In my day, we lived in digs. These were holes in the road. Just kidding.

Photo 3: Just as photos of people wearing face masks take on a new meaning now, so now do crowd scenes. Who are those people wearing blue caps? No idea. Memo to self: gather up more crowd scenes. I haven’t done many of these. In future, I’m guessing now I’ll do more.

Photo 4: The Big Purple Cow is – was? – a comedy venue.

Photos 5 to 9 explain themselves. Above the streaks on concrete is a sign saying where we are.

Photo 10: On the right, that’s the ME Hotel Radio Rooftop Bar.

I can never remember what the roof clutter i Photo 12 is on the roof of, but I always like to photo it.

The vapour trail in Photo 15 was also this vapour trail. If vapour trails always looked this black and horrible, there would now be no planes flying.

Another perceptual flip to add to the collection – and why I find such things to be interesting

Yes, I do like these optical tricks that computer graphics makes it so easy for computer graphicists to play on the world.

Says Steve Stewart-Williams of his latest discovery in this genre:

If you cover the bottom of the ring, the top is closest to you; if you cover the top, it flips around.

Indeed. I clocked what was going on simply by scrolling, which I did because I wanted to see the whole thing, not because I had read what SS-W had said about it yet. But instead of seeing it all, I stopped seeing only the top and started seeing only the bottom, and … what he said.

A big part of the core curriculum of this blog, and of its predecessor, was and is something like: “How I see things and how other people seem to see things”. What do I particularly notice? What do you notice? Do you ignore what I notice?

Sculpture draws elaborate attention to itself. So does advertising. I notice both. Roof clutter and cranes don’t care how I or anyone thinks they look. They are just getting on with their jobs. Millions do not notice roof clutter and cranes, but I do, partly because of their unselfconsciously sculptural qualities. Do you ignore or notice some or all of such things? Chances are you do notice and enjoy noticing several if not all of these things, or you’d not be bothering with this blog. But if you ignore, I’m not complaining, just noticing. People vary, a lot.

See also, which is a generalised version of the above paragraph: Art.

But optical illusions are interesting, because, aside from being interesting for the usual fun reasons that people like them, we most of us tend to experience them in the exact same way. It would, for instance, be bizarre if you looked at the above-linked snatch of video and then wondered what the hell SS-W and I were both talking about. Sharing the same sorts of brains, I see most optical illusions in just the same way you see them. Assuming you share my interest in them at all and you see them at all.

Optical illusions thus celebrate what we all have in common. (Except those of us who don’t. Guess: Optical illusions, in addition to being fun, are also a tool to identify people with brain oddities or brain damage. ?)

Here is the previous one of these things that SS-W pointed me to.

Boadicea and Her Daughters with and without Things in the background

One of my favourite statues in all of London is Boadicea, with daughters, chariot and horses. Until lately, I have been in the habit of photoing her in this sort of silhouetted way, with the Wheel behind her, and cranes, like this, from October 2018:

But today, looking for other Other creatures stuff in the photo-archives, I encountered this photo of her:

No messing about, no clever linings up with other Things. No cranes. And no clue that we are even in the middle of London, across the road from Big Ben, next to Westminster Bridge, and surrounded by tourists. Well not tourists now, but usually.

I love that thing all the real sculptors know how to do with skimpy but wrinkly clothing on a body. Amazing. They make it look translucent, but with a totally solid object that they’ve made. There must be special classes for that in sculpture school.

And with cloudy weather to light her properly.

She dates from the late nineteenth century, so she’s Boadicea rather than Boudicca so she’s a quarter of a century bigger than these ladies, and over a century bigger than action heroines nowadays.

Out east – one year ago today

I looked at what I was doing a year ago today, and came across these photos, of a great little expedition I had out east:

My wanderings began at West Silvertown DLR, from which there is a great view of the Tate & Lyle factory or refinery or whatever it is, the one with the giant can of Golden Syrup attached to it. Other local landmarks included: that cruise ship next to the footbridge, which is actually a hotel; a superb crane cluster off to the north; the Dome; that skilift Thing that goes across the River; and the Optic Cloak. (Where the Eastern God (Buddha?) was, I don’t recall, but I like him a lot.)

This is the area I was exploring:

It’s a place that is palpably in transition. Go back today, and it’ll be different. A year from now, it’ll be different again. In ten years, unrecognisably different. The landmarks in the distance will still be there, but the foreground will be transformed.

The weather that day (unlike the weather today) was a bit grim and grey, but I remember really enjoying this expedition.

I also, that day, photoed nesting birds, cranes, and a book of the week. That last posting having been done as soon as I got home.

By the way, behind the cruise ship is the ExCel Centre, now in the news because it was turned into a hospital. A hospital which had remained mostly empty, and now seems like it will soon shut. Which is good.

Low tide

April 26th was too sunny to be photoing statues (see below) but it was great for being down by the River, and midday was a time when you could get further down by the River (see above) than usual:

Maybe you see the River looking like this all the time, but I don’t recall seeing it like this before. I probably have though. I just didn’t notice.

Another dirty vapour trail

Yes, on a mostly sunny day in May 2015, to add to an earlier one:

And actually, although rather fainter, there’s another one behind the big and obvious one.

What this photo also shows is how this phenomenon happens. Basically, there’s a big band of cloud that stops the horizontal evening sun lighting up the vapour trail, but the cloud leaves the sky behind the vapour trail still lit up. So, the vapour trail is turned into a silhouette. These circumstances are not common, which is why dirty vapour trails aren’t either.

If vapour trails always looked this this, air travel would have been a lot more unpopular and a lot more expensive.

Also, mmmm, cranes.

Happy Easter

As in: I hope you’ve been having one. Because it is now quite late on Easter Sunday.

Although a devout atheist, I’ll celebrate with three big London places of Christian worship, all photoed in June 2016, from the top of one of them.

Here are the other two, an Abbey and a Cathedral:

On the left, Westminster Abbey, with Big Ben right behind one of its towers. On the right, St Paul’s. With a green crane right in front of it.

And here are a couple of photos of the building I was photoing from, the other Cathedral, Westminster Cathedral, a walk up Victoria Street from the Abbey:

On the left, looking down on Westminster Cathedral, again from the top of its tower; on the right, the shadow of the Cathedral’s tower, on some of the Big Lumps of Victoria Street.

Look very carefully at the photo on the right, and you can also see the other Cathedral, in the middle and far off, and the Abbey, off to the far right and far off.

Finally, two rather off-topic photos (not quite the phrase I’m looking for but it’ll have to do), photoed from and inside the same spot:

On the left, well, it’s been called a cathedral. Of power. Battersea Power Station, now being surrounded by apartments, them being the object of my last two expeditions.

And on the right, I’m just inside the tower of the Cathedral, with the openings to one of the outside balconies shaping the light as it crashes through onto where the lift is. That one had me saying “wow” when I was clicking through the old directory, and I hope you agree that that’s a good sign.

Like I say: Happy Easter.