Yesterday, late afternoon, in Vauxhall Bridge Road:
Okay, not the prettiest photos, either aesthetically or technically, that you’ll see today. But that’s not my point. My point is: London is now getting back to whatever it decides is going to be the new normal, and you can bet that the new normal will include rush hour traffic jams, whatever else turns out not to be present any more.
I’ve spoken to regulars Chris and Jimmy. Jimmy hasn’t gone to bed after his night shift tarmacking the roads. He had a shower and came straight here. He described the taste of his first Carling as being like an ‘angel pissing on the tip of my tongue’.
In her original tweet, Rebecca Day put “p***ing” and “his” tongue, so I’ve restored what Jimmy said to its original state of perfection. You’re welcome.
One of the services this blog supplies to its regular readers is to pluck occasional pearls of perfection like that (or that (or that)) from the torrent of swine shit that is Twitter, or at any rate what Twitter seems to turn into for many people.
Friday is my day for celebrating and denouncing the various splendours and atrocities achieved and perpetrated by Mother Nature’s mobile creations, of the non-human sort. I’ve already done Antlerball (see below). But much other Twitter related creature news has been accumulating on my computer, and it’s time for another blog-and-forget-about-it session.
First off: Feral chickens in New Zealand. The tweet, and the story that the tweet linked to:
A New Zealand suburb has emerged from the country’s coronavirus lockdown to find it has been invaded by feral chickens.
Around 30 of the animals have made a home of Titirangi, a suburb of Auckland, while its 4,000 residents were staying in during the Covid-19 crisis.
Now, locals are demanding action against the birds – which they say are damaging the area and leaving their human neighbours sleep deprived with their early morning chorus.
“Some people really hate them,” said Greg Presland chair of the Waitākere Ranges community board, which has been tasked with addressing the problem.
So, tasty, and now also very annoying. They’re doomed I tell you.
I was going to do all of these creature tweets in one posting, but that would clearly get way too long. So, this is just (1) of … several.
Every month for as long as I can remember, I’ve been buying paper copies of Gramophone and the BBC Music Magazine, “Music” being how the BBC refers to classical music.
All over my home, these magazines have accumulated in shelves and in heaps:
I haven’t had these magazines on order, because I don’t trust my neighbours not to let in burglars through the front door we all share, and because I like the exercise of actually walking to a shop and buying these magazines.
Which means that during the recent Plague, I’ve not been getting either of these magazines. The shops where I would have bought them have all been closed.
One of the many changes I am now contemplating in my life is: Not resuming buying these magazines. Are many people now contemplating a similar decision with regard to these or other such printed publications? Surely, they are. Are many people contemplating buying printed publications they do not now buy? I doubt this very much.
If “normal” ever returns, it will, for most of us, in big ways and in small ways, be a different normal, not least among those who publish the magazines like the ones in my photo. It’s not just the obvious ways in which we will remain nervous of the Plague returning, though that will definitely happen also. It’s that by being jolted into doing this for the first time, and not doing that any more, we are all now shedding old habits and being pushed towards acquiring different habits. I try to resist generalisations involving words like “we all now …”, but I really do think that the above generalisations are largely right. (You need only look at the recent numbers for postings here per month at this blog, on the left, to see this kind of thing happening to me and maybe therefore also for you.)
So, habits are being dropped, and acquired. And, are you, like me, and provoked by the above experiences, going beneath and beyond such changes of habit, and asking yourself: What other habits should I now decide to shed, and decide to acquire?
After all, and especially for the likes of me, life has just got shorter.
The present dose of Plague History we’re having has caused much pessimism concerning the future of big, densely packed cities. Being an enthusiast for big city architecture, especially the seriously big and eye-catching sort, I am now more than ever on the lookout for people saying things about why cities confer, and will continue to confer, an advantage upon all those who live and work in them.
So, I particularly noticed this Bo Winegard tweet, when I encountered just now:
It depresses me how quickly a person on twitter can go from disagreeing with you to cursing and insulting you. Strikes me that there’s probably an evolutionary mismatch because almost all of our interactions were face-to-face. People are much nicer when they have to look at you.
I think that captures a key advantage of face-to-face communication, which is that it makes it more likely that those face-to-face communicating are that bit more likely to do it like ladies and gentlemen rather that like loutesses and louts.
I think people on twitter shout, so to speak, partly because they can. But also, maybe, because they feel they have to, to get their point across. If you do one of those oh-so-gently meaningful and very politely phrased criticisms, on Twitter, or for that matter during a conference-at-a-distance, you are liable to fear that your point will get lost. Your iron fist will be completely smothered by the velvet gloves you chose to wear. Face-to-face, you can literally see and hear and feel your point getting across. Or not, in which case you can politely rephrase it.
Being able to disagree in a civilised manner, in a way that doesn’t leave lasting scars or permanent feuds, is fundamental to the successful functioning of any organisation.
My dad was a barrister, in American: a trial lawyer. British barristers are always careful to call each other “my learned friend”, and the more fiercely they are quarrelling, the more they are careful to scatter these words upon all the insults they trade. That always used to amuse me, when my dad talked about it. But an important point was embodied in such drollery, not least because dad often spelled it out explicitly. When arguing, be polite. The more fiercely you argue, the more important politeness becomes. Twitter seems to make that harder. Face-to-face communication makes it easier.
So, cities will survive. Face-to-face communication is now one of their core purposes.
I encountered the above photo here. I suppose that’s one way to learn about some statues for the first time.
These Beatles statues will surely not be vandalism by the BLMers, although if they decide to do this, I’m sure they’ll have no trouble cooking up an excuse. I mean, the Beatles surely did done some cultural appropriating of black music, aka performing it, that being what British sixties rock ‘n’ roll was all about. (The Rolling Stones definitely did.) And then, black Americans had a listen to the Beatles and culturally appropriated right back, often with results that delighted and amazed the Beatles. At the time, only racists objected to this to-ing-and fro-ing of music. Everyone else was very happy about it.
Hard to tell from those photos how many cranes there are yet at London Gateway. But in this photo I believe I see twelve. That being a photo of what they say is “the world’s biggest container ship” delivering its cargo of containers. It doesn’t look that big. I mean, not “world biggest” big. The fact it’s so wide is, I think, what is deceiving.
I’ll never know how these things don’t capsize when fully loaded. Presumably there is many tons of weight at the bottom of them, doing nothing but keeping them upright.
One of South London’s biggest landmark brutalist buildings is to be replaced by blocks of flats which will tower above the South Bank and Tate Modern on the Thames.
IBM’s former offices at Sampson House, on Hopton Street, Southwark, is being demolished to make way for Bankside Yards, one of the capital’s largest regeneration projects – with 1.4 million sq ft of shops, hotels and flats.
Developers Native Land have today announced they have appointed four British architectural practices to develop designs for four buildings within Eastern Yards, part of the £1billion Bankside Yards.
That “landmark” brutalist building, Sampson House, was duly demolished soon after that was written. I know this, because it was one of the things I was looking for on a walkabout I did on May 30th. (Next on my list that day was some statues – later I chanced upon this.) By then, Sampson House was gone.
Sampson House is really rather splendid, if you like that sort of thing, which I do in moderation. It was built in the late seventies. I don’t recall any big public fight to preserve it, and if that’s right, I am rather surprised, what with the row that erupted not long ago in aid of another landmark brutalist building.
Ludgate House, on the other hand, is a somewhat more anonymous product of the late eighties. By then, concrete exteriors were out and the era of totally glass exteriors was upon us. I think it looks pretty good, but only in a way that lots of other similar buildings do. I’ll somewhat miss it.
I went looking for photos of these two ex-buildings in my photo-archives. After much searching, I finally came upon this, photoed in August 2016:
On the left, Sampson House, and on the right, Ludgate House. Top right, you can just see the spikey top of 240 Blackfriars.
But I don’t think that even that photo was me truly photoing Sampson House and Ludgate House. I was photoing Strata, the Thing with the holes in the top. At the time, Sampson House and Ludgate House merely happened to be making the gap through which Strata could be seen, in the distance.
Here is another photo I took of Sampson House and Ludgate House:
That shows where they both were very well. But again, what I was photoing there was a fake photo of One Blackfriars, on the edge of the site where they were going to build it. Sampson House and Ludgate House just happened to be present. But I didn’t care about them, which is why they are leaning over. One Blackfriars is vertical. That’s what I was photoing.
Here are some more Sampson House and Ludgate House photos I’ve photoed over the years, in each case showing me concentrating on something else:
Photo 1: a strange bus; 2: a sign about One Blackfriars; 3: 240 Blackfriars from the top of the Tate Modern Extension: 4: Random reflections in One Blackfriars; 5: 240 Blackfriars, as seen from the south end of Blackfriars railway station, the one on the bridge; 6: A very blurry view of, well, London, through a window at the top of the Walkie-Talkie; 7: One Blackfriars takes shape, viewed from the Tate Extension; 8: Tate Modern photoed with maximum zoom from the top of the Shard.
As you can tell from this list, I was obsessed with One Blackfriars and 240 Blackfriars as I was indifferent to Sampson House and Ludgate House.
But another thing that always distracted me, whenever I was in the vicinity of these two buidings, was this:
I agree with what Matthew Continetti says in this piece, which the above photo adorns, that this is froth. History as farce, Tom Wolf style. This “Seattle Soviet” is going nowhere. It’s “signs and notices”, to quote one of my more frequent categories here, rather than revolutionary architecture of any substance. That being why the above photo is the most informative one I have seen concerning these dramas.
As Kurt Schlichter (who his now being seriously noticed by his enemies) says, the important thing about this Seattle drama is the impact it has on the forthcoming Presidential election in November. Will Trump get the blame for it? Or will the local Democrat politicians? And by extension, the Democrats nationally? Schlichter says the Democrats will get the blame for this Seattle farce, this being why Trump is leaving the local Democrats to not deal with it, until America landslides in his favour. “Silent majority” and all that.
Schlichter combines partisan rhetoric way beyond the point of self-parody with very shrewd observations and analysis. I read him regularly. He is like one of those crazy American lawyers, who seems insane, yet who is taken very seriously, and for good reasons, by his enemies. And as I understand him, which is only a bit, this is because Schlichter is one of those crazy American lawyers, who seems insane, yet who is taken very seriously, and for good reasons, by his enemies.
On June 2nd, Patrick Crozier and I had another of our recorded conversations, this time about Lockdown.
In the course of this, I refer to a photo that I did take, and a photo that I didn’t take. The photo that I did take was this:
That being me, and another bloke, recording the fact of empty shelves in Sainsburys. The photo that I didn’t take, but talk about with Patrick, is the one I should also have taken of how the shelves laden with less healthy food – crisps, chocky bickies etc. – were crammed with yet-to-be-sold stuff, a lot of it offered at discount prices.
Patrick, in his posting about this chat, mentions something he thought of afterwards but didn’t say during, which is that what may have been going on with the crisps and bickies was not that people were shunning unhealthy food, but rather that they were shunning party food, on account of there suddenly being no parties being had. Good point. In my photo above, you can see in the distance, the drinks section. Plenty of drink still to be had also.
I remember, when I used to do chat radio, I used to regret not having said things I should have said, either because I had them in mind but forgot, or because I only thought of them afterwards. But, in due course, I realised that what mattered was what I did say. If that was reasonably intelligent and reasonably well put, then I did okay. People wouldn’t say: Ooh, but he forgot to mention blah blah. They would merely decide whether they liked, or not, what I did say.
Well, this time around, I think there was a huge elephant in the virtual room that we didn’t discuss, which I am sure some listeners would expect us to have at least mentioned. Sport. As in: There hasn’t been any! Patrick and I are both sports obsessives. He is a Watford fan. But he has had no Premier League relegation battle to warm his heart during the last few months. I love cricket, not just England but also Surrey. Likewise for me: nothing, despite some truly wonderful weather at a time when it’s often very grim. But, not a single sporting thing, other than ancient sportsmen reminiscing about sports contests of yesteryear on the telly. Yet we never mentioned any of that. Since a lot of the point of our chat wasn’t to yell at politicians and scientists, hut rather just to remember the oddities of our own lives now, this was a major omission. We talked, as we always do whether that’s the actual topic or not, about war, this time in connection with the question of which economic policy attitudes will prevail during whatever attempts at an economic recovery start being made in the months to come. Yet sport, the thing that has replaced war in so many people’s lives, got no mention by us.