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.

EVERYTHING IS GOING TO BE ALRIGHT

I’ve been feeling down in the dumps lately, and I came to realise that the permanent photo on my computer wasn’t helping. It was of a boarded up house in Brittany, and it was there because that seemed appropriate for the times we are all trying to live past. But, because it was so appropriate it was also deeply depressing, just like the times we are all trying to live past, and it was making those times, for me, even worse.

So, I changed the photo to this:

That’s quite a proclamation there, I think you’ll agree:

EVERYTHING IS GOING TO BE ALRIGHT

This sign is still, so far as I know, to be seen in one of my favourite spots in London, which is the top of the Tate Modern extension. I must have photoed literally thousands of photos up there, and in a lot of them the evening sunshine is bouncing about in there in highly confusing ways, what with all the glass partitions there are there. The above photo, one of many I have photoed of this slogan, is chosen so as to be clear what’s going on. Some of the others are major puzzles, I can tell you, but this one is simple and readable. You know where you are with it.

This slogan was installed in Tate Modern in 2018, it having previously been elsewhere. As prophecies go, let’s just say we’ve all seen better, and it’s meant to be ironic. But despite its comically extreme inaccuracy, I have found it to be strangely soothing, and a great improvement on the boarded up house.

So numerous and complicated have been the photos I have photoed in this place that I haven’t known how to display them. The answer is just to make a start, and keep on doing it. More to come, I (almost) promise.

TATE MODERN IS CURRENTLY CLOSED. I really miss the place. Most of what’s in it always looks very ignorable, so I mostly ignore it, but I do like this sign.

Oval memories

My life and the world are both a bit of a mess at the moment. I’ll spare you the details of the former, by just saying that these details are indeed messy without in any way being life-threatening. The mess the world is in you know all about, even as you and I may well quarrel about who’s fault it is and what needs doing about it. Just so you know, I’m right about that and if you disagree you’re wrong, but I see no need and now feel no desire to elaborate on that basic truth.

So, escape, in the form of yet more happy memories from The Time Before All This:

This was a game of cricket at the Oval, a walk across the River from me, in July 2016. I was originally only going to post the one with the silly hat and the artistic one, with the shadows, photos 8 and 7. But then I thought, have a good old wallow. Thank you again Darren. Darren being my friend Darren, the Surrey Member, who gets me in with him as a guest.

Photo 1 is the first ball of the match, between Surrey and Gloucester, hit by Jason Roy, pictured there, to the boundary. Photo 9 is the end of the match, with Surrey having won at a canter. All the others are the sort of photos of sporting events that Real Sporting Photographers ignore, but which I really enjoy. All the incidental stuff. The signs and commemorations. The groundstaff and their equipment. The crowd and their various habits and antics, fuelled by drink.

I can wait to go to the Oval again, to see another game. But only because I will have to. Can’t come too soon.

Two dogs and two e-scooters

Spotted by me this afternoon, as soon as I set out to the Medical Centre:

That’s two dogs there, and two e-scooters. You can tell they’re e-scooters rather than just scooters, because of the wires, and because what couple, with dogs, would have, you know, scooters? That they had to push along? Also, they walked right past me, and I got a close look.

This charmingly convivial scene doesn’t tell us that e-scooters will survive the resumption of, if you get my meaning, London. When the traffic finally roars back, will e-scooters be safe enough for such people? I now somewhat doubt it. But maybe they’ll find their niches, in the quieter and more bike-friendly bits of London, like the bit where I live, the quiet bit between Horseferry Road and Vauxhall Bridge Road and north (or is it east?) towards Vincent Square. I saw several other e-scooter drivers today, including, rather interestingly, a guy with an e-scooter which had a wider platform than usual, so he could stand with his feet next to each other, in the manner of this gizmo.

What the above photo does tell us is that there are maybe more people than is widely realised who would like e-scooters to have a future in London. This couple are not your normal e-scooter drivers, burly singleton types speeding to and from work, or with rucksacks on their backs and delivering at speed. These two look like they’ve settled down, and would like that settling down to include e-scooters.

Like I’ve been saying for months now, we shall see.

Bartle Frere

Often, when out-and-abouting, I go down Victoria Street and across Westminster Bridge, before turning left and walking downstream along the south bank of the river. But last Wednesday, instead of going over the bridge, I turned left at the Boudicca Statue and walked along the north side of the River. That takes you past more statues, slightly off-the-beaten-track of the best known history. Parliament Square has Mandela, Gandhi and Churchill, to name three particularly well-known historical celebs. On the North Bank, as you walk towards Embankment Tube, you encounter: Tyndale, the first translator of the Bible into English. You see Charles Portal, who was Chief of the Air Staff during WW2, without ever doing anything that caught the popular imagination, as they say, in the manner of Dowding or Guy Gibson or Douglas Bader. There is Gordon of Khartoum, who got himself killed in Khartoum and who was a huge celeb in his own time, but is now fading into the history books.

And, just before you get to Embankment Tube, there is this handsome looking grandee:

This, proclaims the plinth under him, is “Bartle Frere”.

Even for me, with all that time and money that was spent teaching me what is now decidedly ancient history, Bartle Frere is only a name. But now, in the age of the Internet, questions like “Who on earth was Bartle Frere?” are easily answered. And it turns out that Bartle Frere, or, to give him his full name, Sir Henry Bartle Edward Frere was a late nineteenth century colonial administrator of a sort who cannot now be discussed without extreme embarrassment and censure. He first had an impact in India, following the Indian Mutiny, generally cracking the whip and centralising British power there. And then they sent him to South Africa, to do the same there. Wars followed, against the Zulus, and eventually the Boer War. He seemed to have a genius for pissing people off, so much so that even at the time, people became rather doubtful about him.

You might think that, during the recent little moment of statue-complaining that came and went a few months ago, Bartle Frere would have more than qualified for public condemnation and possible toppling. Trouble is, he is just not known about or cared about. Nobody now says: “What we now need is another Bartle Frere.” “If only politicians nowadays had the moral stature of Bartle Frere.” They say this kind of thing about Mandela, Gandhi and Churchill, so if the wokists can find something unwoke to complain about with one of those guys, iconoclasm can at least be threatened, and a rise can be got out of all the people who respond by saying: Hey, leave Gandhi alone! Hands off Churchill! But nobody cares about Bartle Frere.

Iconoclasm only works if there is an actual icon to be clasmed, or clasmatised, or whatever the word is. Bartle Frere is not an icon, not now. He is now a nobody. So, his statue stood and stands tall and proud and utterly ignored by all but weirdos like me, and the woke mob never laid a finger on him.

At no point, a few months back when all the statue toppling was going on, was it felt necessary to put Bartle Frere in a box.

Why Democrat electoral cheating is no longer okay

To start with, a pre-emptive grovel. I am not a fully fit person just now. I can just about manage photoing photos and posting photos. I can even manage stating my opinions. What I shrink from doing, in my present state of seemingly permanent lethargy, coughing-ness and achiness, is embarking on any sort of argument to the effect that my opinions are correct, with someone who does not share them. You’ll either take these opinions of mine, or leave them. I am now only up to stating what they are.

And when it comes to the rows and ruckuses now happening in the USA about how Donald Trump should turn over a new leaf, become “presidential”, and now let Joe Biden become the next president, I have two opinions, which I will now state.

First, it is my understanding that the scale of cheating by the Democrats this time around was something else again. I won’t persuade you if you don’t agree, and I think I am open to the idea that the gap between where Biden is said to stand now and where Trump has to stand to remain President is just too great for a few legal judgements to make any difference. I just watched Megyn Kelly, whose attitude on things generally seems to resemble mine, say exactly this, and I didn’t blow any gaskets. But for whatever it may be worth, I found this, and this from the BBC, rather persuasive, and in the case of the BBC piece, highly relevant.

The Democrats hate Trump, but last time around they were caught by surprise. This jerk? He’s won this? They just were not prepared for that outcome. That’s why they didn’t cheat much last time around. They hadn’t thought they’d need to.

This time they were ready. They hate Trump just as much as ever, but this time around they grasped that, hateful down-market nincompoop embarrassment though Trump definitely is, he is also, for whatever clutch of mysterious and deplorable reasons, a formidable foe. And they were ready. But they weren’t quite ready enough. The scale of Trump’s achievement shocked them again, and this time around their cheating is, as Americans like to say, off the scale.

My opinion. You have a different opinion? Fine by me. I get it. If you do not share my admiration for Trump, fine by me again.

But here’s another opinion, which it seems to me is a bit less generic, a bit less predictably Trumpist. Because something else has changed.

Democrat electoral cheating is not a new story. I’ve been reading stuff about America and American politics all my life, off and on and mostly off, and like a thread through it all is the fact that in big cities that they run and are determined to go on running, Democrats cheat in elections. So Democrats cheating in elections this time around is not the big change.

The big change is a Republican refusing to retreat in the face of it. Why? Why is Trump being so unpresidential, so undignified, so … just so ghastly? The answer is that the big political picture has been transformed, partly by him, but partly by him responding to the fact that it has already changed so much.

Time was when Republicans were the party of the Lucky Winners. Country clubbers, corporate executives, yacht owners, owners of houses with several garages, presided over by perfectly manicured wives, in charge of several well behaved children and subservient servants. The Democrats, meanwhile, were the party of the workers, of people struggling to do work or even to get work. Any plutocrats who were attached to the Democrats, like the Kennedys or (FD) Roosevelt, were numerically insignificant oddities. (Whether that was true, I don’t know. But this was the dominant narrative, as people say now.)

But that’s all changed. The Democrats are now the party of the Lucky Winners, and also of the unlucky losers at the very bottom of the heap who can only now depend on the crumbs of comfort bestowed upon them by the Lucky Winner class. The Republicans have become the party of the workers in the middle, the middle class, as Americans accurately describe them. The Republicans are the party of the people who still struggle to work and to stay working, and who hate the whole idea of giving up and becoming dependant upon the Lucky Winners.

Not all “workers” voted for Trump. A lot of workers, especially in things like IT, are still solidly Democrat. But the heart of the Trump vote was workers of a certain sort. The heart of the Trump vote was no longer the Lucky Winners class. They have migrated over to the Democrats.

Okay, now for the key bit of what I’m saying.

In olden times, if you were a member of the Lucky Winners class, and your guy lost an election, complaining about cheating was frankly a bit, well, undignified. You and your pals controlled almost all the leavers of power in society. You owned the big corporations. Your children were creaming off most of the expensive education. The world was yours. Were you going to bitch about electoral corner-cutting by a few machine politician Democrats in big cities who had enough clout to say boo to you, every once in a while? This was not a good look. And on the whole, Republicans took their defeats, and if Democrat cheating cost them a win or two, well, that was how it crumbled, cookie-wise. Legally, that may not have been the rule, but actually, that was the rule. Noblesse oblige. Let the people picked by the struggling class have their turn. Suck it up. Go play golf.

But now? Now, what is happening is that the Lucky Winners class is telling the class definitely below it in the pecking order that this subordinate class now has to just lie back and let it happen, when the electoral cheating happens all over them.

This is not a good look either, but it’s what the Lucky Winner class now think they can do, and get away with. Maybe they can, in the sense that they may well get their guy over the line this time around. But if they do, but if it then becomes clear that they did this by cheating on a large scale in this election, then the words “reap” and “whirlwind” spring to mind.

Meanwhile, Trumpists do not now give a fuck about Trump being “dignified” or “presidential”. They voted for him because he was none of those things. Yes, he was born into the Lucky Winners class, but now he’s their Lucky Winner. And they now want him to insist on the principle that cheating in political elections is wrong, dammit! And it is especially wrong when it’s done by the very class of people that has spent the last four years declaring itself to be in every way superior to them – richer, better, better looking, cleverer, wiser, more tasteful, more cultured, more intellectually nuanced, less racist, less “deplorable”, you name it. And if those smarmy bastard liars on the television don’t like this, they can just shove it up their Lucky Winner arses.

I trust that the undignified nature of my language in the previous paragraph is getting my point across. Which is that the argument that those now on the receiving end of Democrat cheating should just roll over in the face of it is now out of date, big time.

Cheating is okay – not good, not completely okay, not dignified – when it is done by life’s strugglers to life’s Lucky Winners. But when the Lucky Winners do it to the strugglers, that’s a whole different ball game, and a game that the Lucky Winners will and will thoroughly deserve to lose. And whether you personally agree with that or not, the particular strugglers on the receiving end of this particular bit of cheating damn well do agree.

That’s what’s changed, and it’s a very big change indeed.

Like I say. My opinions. Take them. Or leave them. And comment all you like. Just don’t assume I’ll have the energy to respond to any responses that this gets.

Only a small risk of getting rabies

Michael Jennings:

Oh, those glorious days of the past when I could be bitten by dogs in beautiful places with glorious mountains, churches, food and wine, with only a small risk of getting rabies. I miss those days so much.

Sigh.

Lots more e-scooters – and an e-scooter near miss

When out-and-about yesterday afternoon, I lost count of the e-scooters I saw. These are about half of them, or so, maybe less. The photo-quality is rubbish, because I was usually busy photoing something else, and because, on London’s currently very empty roads, these things go really quite fast, and are usually past me before I even notice them. My speciality is static stuff, like architecture and sculpture and signs and photoers photoing and taxies-with-adverts stopped at traffic lights. E-scooters are seldom static, and when they are I tend not even to see them:

The best photo of an e-scooter by far that I photoed yesterday showed a very clear face of the person doing the e-scooting. Since there are legal uncertainties about whether and where these things are allowed, I didn’t show that one.

As Lockdown drags on, I become ever more impatient to learn whether these machines have any long term future in a traffic-heavy city like London. Lockdown has created very e-scooter-friendly circumstances on London’s roads, but that cannot last. I am zero-ing in, in my autodidactic way, on a law of transport, which says that all vehicles are really systems. You can invent a superbly clever vehicle. But if the right environment for it does not exist, or is the kind of environment that the powers-that-be are not inclined to create, then it’s no go. Steam locomotives are obviously also railway networks. Cars and lorries are, almost equally obviously, road networks, for which, in the early days of the car, there was huge political backing. Bicycles likewise need bicycle networks, or at the very least laws restraining the cars and lorries from running them over on what is basically their network.

Perhaps my waning enthusiasm for e-scooters is linked with the near miss I was subjected to very recently by a delivery e-scooter, e-scooting on the pavement I was slowly walking along. He was in a big hurry and had he hit me, I’d have suffered serious damage. I can remember when such behaviour was fairly common with juvenile-delinquent propelled bicycles, but someone or something seems to have taught some manners to the scumbag cycler fraternity in recent years. The e-scooting people will have to learn similar lessons if they want any help from the politicians, to create an e-scooter network. The e-scooting people I see, in London SW1, are almost none of them juvenile delinquent in demeanour or dress. They all seem like hard-working young citizens. That delivery guy is the nearest to an e-scooter delinquent I’ve encountered, but he too was working, very hard indeed, which is what caused the problem. Needless to say, I had no time at all to take any photos. He wasn’t stopping to apologise, quite the opposite. If he’d hit me, he’d have done a hit-and-run escape, assuming he was able to.

Once anecdotes like that start circulating, the politics of e-scooting will become more like the politics of knife crime. As in: Why the hell isn’t it being stopped?

Reflections on how an abundance of news every day has transformed American politics

This abundance, brought into being by the internet, means that you don’t have to read or listen to anything you don’t want to read or listen to. Whatever view you have of the world and what is happening in it, you can spend whatever time you have each day for such matters to confirm what you already see and think. I now think that the Democrats can only win the Presidency if they get away with their cheating. Meanwhile, Democrats think Trump is just a sore loser and a conspiracy theorist.

And I think the latest Lockdown here is a great folly.

The big change in America, brought by the Internet, is that the “mainstream media” used to be just that, but are that no longer. Before the internet, the “mainstream media” (basically the big television news shows) spoke to almost everyone but a few truly contrarian oddballs and freaks. Now, if you don’t entirely care for the point of view they give you, you can go elsewhere.

This had a knock-on effect on the mainstream media themselves. They started to acquire those inverted commas. They began not to be so mainstream. Their centre-left, what-the-government-is-doing-is-what-matters, if-you-want-something-sorted-get-the-government-to-sort-it attitude mutated towards an extreme left, put-the-government-in-charge-of-everything, capitalism-is-evil agenda. Why? Because if you thought the problem with government was that there was too much of it, you could now go elsewhere for your daily news, and commentary. You could choose, and daily have reinforced for you, any “extreme” agenda that suited you, in a way that only freaks like Marxists and libertarians of my sort used, before the Internet, to do (by writing our own news for ourselves). Now, if the “mainstream media” tried to appeal to everyone, they’d end up appealing to no-one. The smart thing for them to do was to choose the most popular “extreme” agenda and run with that. Which is what they have done, and which is why calling them “mainstream” no longer makes nearly much sense. (It sill makes some sense, because they have gone with the most popular extreme agenda. Which is still a bit mainstream, hence the survival of the expression.)

All that was needed to turn America into a profoundly different place was for a rival “extreme” agenda to arise, comparable in volume and force to the dominant extreme agenda, and, with Donald Trump arriving on the scene and proclaiming such an agenda, there you have it, America now.

And each tribe spends its entire day that it can spare telling itself how right it is about everything, and what evil nincompoops the other fellows are.

I’m part of this. I’m a Trumpist now. A Trumpist with libertarian trimmings and libertarian reservations, but a Trumpist. And I duly think that the Democrats are, on the whole and with various polite exceptions and reservations, evil nincompoops.

All of which explains why my posting here yesterday evening, about literal reflections, although it began as an attempt to change the subject away from mere politics, actually didn’t really do that. What that ended up being about was the human inclination to see what we’re looking for, rather than what merely “is” there.

See also, Scott Adams on two movies.

As of right now …

Yes, as of right now (I’m starting this at 10.30am London time), it would appear that Biden has just moved back to being favourite to win this thing, very narrowly. Republicans are saying that Democrat state admins paused the counting in states where Trump was ahead, in order to know how many votes they still needed to count or contrive. Trump is angry about this. Leftist media are saying Trump is out of order.

The Democrats aren’t getting their blow-out for Biden, and I am certainly not getting my stonking win for Trump.

That crack made by Lenin or Stalin or some such monster, that what matters is not who votes how, but who counts the votes, is now rattling around in my head.

It’s all very different from last time. Then, the Democrats had no Plan B. Now, if you believe this kind of thing, as I am inclined to, Plan B is unrolling. So, Biden will win? And Republicans will spend the next four years contesting this?

Oh dear. Oh well. Life will go on. I’m now going to go out for a walk in the sunshine, and take some photos.