Battersea gallery

Yesterday evening I walked over to Battersea, to see how things are going with surrounding the old Power Station with apartment blocks, with sorting out the western end of London’s Big New Sewer, and constructing a new tube station.

In the photos that follow, I concentrate on the new blocks of flats, not least because it is easier to see that, what with it having reached the stage of mostly now being above ground. Tube line and sewer construction remains largely hidden throughout, and in general they tend to be more secretive about such things.

So how are things going with all those flats? How things are going is that there is a lot of building going on, but also, already, a lot of living.

The earliest photos in this gallery show the part where they say: come on it. This is already a place, with people, and food, and a road through to other parts beyond. Then, you walk along one of the oddest bridges in London, over and through what is still a giant building site, right next to the old Power Station, and then you arrive at the bit that is finished and already containing people.

None of the photos that follow are individually that fascinating. But click, click, click your way through them at speed, and you’ll get an idea of how this passing moment in the history of London is now looking:

The photos that concentrate on life being lived, rather than merely dwellings being constructed, concern the London Seafood Festival (that being the only link I now have the time to contrive), which I had definitely not been expecting. But many others had, and were gathered in large numbers to partake.

Then I made my way to Battersea Park railway station, with the last two photos having been photoed from the train that took me to Victoria Station on the other side of the river.

My larger point is this: that the newest and most noticeable London architecture has now done a switch, from the erection of individually crafted and highly visible and recognisable Big Things, to the mass production of generic Machines For Living In and Machines For Working In. So many office blocks and blocks of flats of a certain height, all jammed together in a formerly not so very desirable location, each higher than low but each lower than really high. So much concrete and steel being hoisted into the air by so many cranes. And so many people all being crammed into these new dwellings and new workplaces, as they beaver away at their desk jobs nearby or in The City, and relax by the river in their numerous new eateries and drinkeries down on the ground floors. Yes, this kind of thing has been going on in London for many decades, but just lately, it has shifted up a gear.

That all these new Batterseans will be within walking and face-to-face talking distance of one another is bound to have creative consequences. All sorts of new urban possibilities will become possible.

A lot more of this stuff has been happening out East, in Docklands and beyond. There too (see especially: North Greenwich) things have shifted up a gear. Battersea feels a bit more upmarket than those places down East.

Welcome to the latest version of London.

A musical metaphor is developed

In this blog posting, someone called Judge Ellis is quoted saying, somewhere in America, some time recently or not so recently, in connection with something Trump-related, this:

“You don’t really care about Mr. Manafort’s bank fraud – what you really care about is what information Mr Manafort could give you that would reflect on Mr. Trump or lead to his prosecution or impeachment.

“This vernacular to ‘sing’ is what prosecutors use. What you’ve got to be careful of is that they may not only sing, they may compose.”

Good expression. Never heard it before, although it must have been around for decades.

Originally posted at Brian Micklethwait’s Old Blog

“This world needs more eyesores, more carbuncles …”

Or to put it another way:

London’s new Tulip skyscraper is great, but why aren’t more people embedding sharks in their roof?

Well, I can think of quite a few answers to that question, but I get the point that Joel Dimmock is making and I like it very much.

Is there starting to be a hum, as the late Chris Tame used to call it, in favour of people being free to build whatever crazy buildings they want to build with their own money on their own property?

One of the more interesting facts about the quotes quoted above is that they appear in The Independent. Okay, in the “Voices” (clickbate?) section, but still, The Independent. Is The Independent starting to be in favour of … independence?

Originally posted at Brian Micklethwait’s Old Blog

Talking about Brexit

Patrick Crozier and I have just fixed our next podcast, which we will record early next week. Read about and listen to earlier ones here, and in due course this next one will go there too. And for this next one, we will talk about … Brexit. I knew you’d be excited.

Many claim that they are bored by Brexit, and maybe many are. Although I suspect some are really just pissed off with not getting exactly what they want. (And who is getting exactly what they want?) Either that, or actually only bored with other people’s opinions, but not with their own. Me, I find the whole process rather fascinating, now that I have got over having been so wrong about it. I thought that Brexit would lose the Referendum, but it won. And I thought that once it had won, it would happen without too much fuss, because the Conservative Party leavers would mostly bow to the inevitable. As of now, that hasn’t happened, and doesn’t look like it will happen any time soon.

Brexit is a subject that Patrick has strong opinions about, which is good because although this will not stop me interrupting (I’m afraid I always interrupt), it may at least mean that some of the times when I do interrupt, he’ll interrupt back and shut me up until he’s finished the point he was making before I interrupted.

Here is a Brexit photo I recently photoed, of a bus driving around and around Parliament Square, saying Believe in Britain and LEAVE MEANS LEAVE, but with nobody in the bus apart from the driver:

They all left, I guess.

Originally posted at Brian Micklethwait’s Old Blog

Peak Remembrance?

Yesterday, I went on a shopping expedition which involved boarding a train at Charing Cross, which I planned to reach by going first to St James’s Park tube.

The first of the photos below (1.1) is of a taxi, parked close to where I live, with some sort of poppy related advert on it. I like to photo taxis covered in adverts. Temporariness, the passing London scene, will get more interesting as the years pass, blah blah.

Then, in Strutton Ground, just this side of Victoria Street, I encountered two besuited gentlemen wearing military berets and medals. I photoed them both, with their permission, and I post one of these photos here (1.2), also with their permission. Sadly, the other photo didn’t come out properly.

It was only at this point that I realised that, the following day (i.e. today) being Remembrance Sunday and what’s more the exact one hundredth anniversary of the Armistice of November 1918, London in the Westminster Abbey area would already be awash with Remembrance Sunday photo-ops. My shopping could wait a while, and I turned right down Victoria Street.

The seven other photos below mostly involve small wooden crosses and dead autumn leaves – autumn 2018 arrived at Peak Dead Leaf yesterday – but they also include another poppy related advert, this time on a the side of a bus (3.3), which I photoed in Parliament Square:

Sadly, the plasticated documents referring to “British Nuclear Test Veterans” (2.1) were insufficiently plasticated to resist the effects of the rain. It began to rain some more when I was arriving at Charing Cross station and it did not stop for several hours, so I’m guessing these lists suffered further rain damage. It’s odd how little sadnesses like this stick in your mind, in amongst the bigger sadnesses being remembered.

The autumn-leaves-among-crosses photos, all taken outside Westminster Abbey, are but a few of a million such that must have been taken over this weekend, in London and in many other places. Is it proper to include two mere advert photos, even if they are poppy related adverts, in such poetically symbolic and dignified company? I chose to do this because one of the things I find most interesting about these Remembrance remembrances is that, as each year of them passes, they don’t seem to be getting any smaller. People still want remember all this stuff, even though all the veterans of World War 1 are now gone. Hence the adverts. If the adverts didn’t get results, they’d not be worth their cost.

As to why these remembrances continue to be remembered, and by such huge numbers of people, year after year, I think one reason is that each political tribe and faction can each put their own spin on the sad events being remembered, but in the privacy of their own minds. For some political partisans, these ceremonies and symbols are a chance to wallow in the pageantry of patriotism. For others, they are an opportunity to rebuke such nationalists, for stirring up the kinds of hostility that might provoke a repeat of the sad events being remembered. “Patriotism” and “nationalism” being the words used to salute, or to denounce, the exact same sentiments. But declaring red poppies to be a warning that the defence budget should be increased, or that they are anti-Trump and anti-Brexit symbols that Trump supporters and Brexiteers have no right to wear, would be too vulgar and partisan, so on the whole this kind of vulgarity and partisanship is not indulged in, not out loud.

The phenomenon of the political meeting where all present hear the same words but where each understands them to mean different things – I’m thinking of such words as “Britain”, “freedom”, “democracy” and “common sense” – has long fascinated me. Remembrance ceremonies remind me, on a larger scale, of such meetings. I attended many such little political meetings myself before I decided that mainstream politics was not for me, and switched to libertarianism, where meanings are spelt out and arguments are had rather than avoided.

For less obsessively political people, Remembrance ceremonies and symbols are simply an opportunity to reflect on the sadness of history in general, and in particular the sadness of the premature deaths of beloved ancestors – or, perhaps worse – hardly known-about ancestors. We can at least all agree that premature death, in whatever circumstances, is a sad thing to contemplate. And until young men entirely cease from dying in wars, Remembrance Sunday will continue to be, among other things, a meaningfully up-to-date event.

And so, year after year, these ceremonies continue. Will this year’s anniversary come to be regarded as Peak Remembrance? We shall see.

Originally posted at Brian Micklethwait’s Old Blog

Photo-edited from zero to hero

I remember, during the reign of President Bush Jnr., how I used to blog about how photography was used to glorify President Bush. Well, here’s another political photo of a rather similar sort, which has been an open window on my computer for some time:

What I find entertaining about this photo is the extreme contrast between the clearly very humdrum appearance, for real, of the old guy in the photo, and the way that (I suspect) pushing just one Photoshop button has turned this same guy into something almost heroic.

The headline above the photo is telling:

The most consequential conservative leader of the century? He’s still alive, in office and owed an apology

The old guy in the photo-edited photo is US Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, whom the Tea Party people used to regard as a waste-of-space sell-out, but who is now being lauded to the skies by the Trumpsters.

Says Jewish Chronicle writer Marc A. Thiessen:

While President Trump deserves credit for making outstanding judicial nominations, long before Trump declared his candidacy McConnell was laying the groundwork for a conservative transformation of the federal judiciary. It was, he told me in an interview last week, “entirely premeditated.”

McConnell reminds me of a particular American actor, whom I recall having seen in a number of movies. Trouble is, that actor is the sort of actor you recognise the face of, but whose name you never quite register. It’s that sort of face.

Originally posted at Brian Micklethwait’s Old Blog

67 & 541 – 477/8d & 134/9

For the last four days I have been following Surrey v Essex at the Oval, on Cricinfo mostly. The scores alone were remarkable, hence my title above. Those who do not know cricket should know that, to those who do know cricket, the mere numbers above are truly astounding.

Famed Surrey commentator Churchy couldn’t take his eyes off it:

That’s him on the left. Don’t know who the other bloke is. Kevin Howells? See also this (about the effect on the face of photoing someone from really close-up). And the second of these two guys (both saying: well done Surrey) is another in-your-face face.

Given how good the weather forecasts were (and given how good weather forecasts are) I thought about going there. But I still suspect that, had I done so, a cascade of butterfly effects would have been set in motion, and Surrey would have lost by an innings and about three hundred early on day three, instead of by a mere one wicket on the afternoon of day four, having looked, towards the end, well capable of snatching a win.

Anyone who thinks that only winning matters in sport should ponder how much happier a Surrey fan like me is about this game as it finally turned out, compared to how grumpy I would have been if it really had ended early on day three. Still an Essex win. Same number of Championship points to both sides. Surrey still win the Championship anyway. But what an abject anti-climax that would have been. And what a great actual-climax to the season it actually was.

Had the County Championship still been at stake, and had it depended on this result, I could not have endured it. But, if the Championship had been at stake, it would, I think, have been an entirely different game. Intrinsic to the amazing Surrey recovery was that this was … only a game. Thus did it end up being a great game, because only a game.

I really want to remember this one, hence this posting.

Originally posted at Brian Micklethwait’s Old Blog

A dramatic Chicago photo and the photoer who photoed it

One of the more tiresome things about Twitter is the way that a photo goes viral, without the photoer who photoed the photo getting any credit for the photo.

So, I am happy to report that, when I learned, via Mike Fagan, whom I follow, that a tweeter by the name of Arturas Kerelis reported that “someone” took this photo …:

… in Chicago, on September 3rd, the photoer was eventually identified. Commenter Chris Gallevo, to whom thanks and respect, steered any who cared, which included me, to the Instagram site of Kevin Banna, where the above photo is to be found.

I was not able to discover what Kevin Banna himself looks like. That’s the trouble with image googling the name of a photoer. Are the results photos of him, or merely photos by him? It’s not easy to know, without more labour than I was prepared to give to the question.

In a backhanded compliment to Banna’s photo, and also to the extreme drama that the weather in Chicago is apparently capable of providing from time to time, some commenters accused “someone” of having Photoshopped this image. Other commenters assured us that the weather in Chicago that day really was very dramatic, in just the way the above photo portrays, and that it general it regularly lays on such displays and dramas.

Originally posted at Brian Micklethwait’s Old Blog