This is not a Cape Sugarbird

I’m talking about this:

What chance does Western Civilisation have if people get basic facts like this wrong?

It’s a Malachite Sunbird.

This is a Cape Sugarbird:

This being a South African bird disagreement, nobody thinks to comment on the amazing plants that the above birds are perched on. They’re just … plants.

But, if 6k (that link being to a bird photo that 6k photoed in London a while back), who visits this blog from time to time and via whose Twitter feed I learned of this Sunbird/Sugarbird confusion (now flapping about all over Twitter before the truth can even get its feathers on), can tell me about the vegetation in the photos I have displayed, I’d love to be thus enlightened. I mean, those Orange Things. That Sunflower-like flower. Amazing.

So it really is cold – good to know

Bishop Hill:

A week away from midsummer and I think I’m going to have to light the stove. Cold, wet and miserable.

And I now have a headache.

Worse, the cricket world cup is proving to be a huge embarrassment, as game after game gets washed out. Today it was India v NZ.

The stupid thing is, it actually doesn’t rain that much in England, not nearly as much as people say. Ever since I started wandering about in London photoing photos, I have paid very careful attention to the weather, and I absolutely know this. The weather isn’t always that great, but actual rain, falling out of the sky, continuously, is quite rare, percentage-wise. It very seldom rains as much as it has been raining for the last few days. Whenever I go out, I carry a small portable umbrella in my bag, in a special compartment. Almost always, that is where it stays. Like I say, it very seldom rains. But, sometimes it does, and when it does, we all notice because it’s so damn unpleasant.

But part of the reason it’s so damn unpleasant is that it rains quite rarely, so we aren’t organised to deal with it, the way they are in countries where they have an actual rainy season.

The title of this posting sounds sarcastic, but no sarcasm was intended. The Bishop’s tweet, quoted above, actually made me feel better. I had been feeling cold, but I didn’t believe how I felt. This is June. It can’t be this cold. I must be imagining it. (To be exact, my feet had to be imagining it.) But now I know that it isn’t just me.

An historic weather forecast

I have no idea what it was like storming a Normandy beach, on June 6th 1944. I also don’t really know how they do weather forecasting, but in recent years, because of being an amateur photoer, I have acquired a profound respect for those who do know, and who do this for a living.

So, my D-Day blog posting does not feature warriors. I instead focus on this man:

That’s Group Captain James Stagg, Allied Supreme Commander Eisenhower’s D-Day weather man. Stagg it was who advised Ike that the landings should be postponed by twenty four hours, to avoid filthy weather on June 5th 1944 and to take advantage of what Stagg believed would be an interlude of surprisingly good weather on June 6th 1944. Stagg’s advice was taken. To say that “the rest is history” would be to suggest that Stagg’s superbly accurate forecast was not itself history. It very much was.

Such is the internet and such are modern times that if you now do an internet search for “James Stagg”, you get more pictures of the actor and writer David Haig than you do of Stagg himself. This is because Haig recently wrote a play, called Pressure, about the above-described historic episode, and then himself played the part of Stagg in his own play.

James Stagg, and WW2 weather forecasting in general, deserved and deserve to be made much of, so I don’t blame either Google or David Haig for the odd result of this particular internet search. In particular, on the image front, it seems very likely that quite a few more photos were taken of Haig playing Stagg than were ever taken of Stagg himself.

Something I forgot to mention

There you were, waiting for a good time to con your way past the front door of my block of flats by saying you’re the postman, to climb my stairs, to bash in my front door and to plunder my classical CD collection. All that was stopping you was the fear of me bashing your skull to bits with my cricket bat, which I keep handy for just this sort of eventuality.

So anyway, there you were reading all about how my life for the last week has been complicated. But, I clean forgot to tell you that the reason for all this complication was that I was off in the south of France. Silly old me. I’m getting old, I guess.

Here’s how the south of France was looking:

Those are the Pyrenees at the back there. In the foreground, lots of little wine trees.

The weather looks slightly better in that than it really was, what with it having been so very windy. Especially on the final day of my stay, up on this thing.

Originally posted at Brian Micklethwait’s Old Blog

Spring in the air

Yes, I and a friend took a stroll around Stoke Newington this afternoon, and despite the drabness of the weather, spring was in the air.

And as if to confirm Spring will indeed be with us very soon, if it’s not here already, this was the scene outside the Anglo Spice Grill:

There were many other Stoke Newingtonian sights – animal, vegetable and mineral – to be seen and to be photoed, but today was a tiring day, with another activity in the evening before I finally got around to doing this. So that will have to be your lot.

Originally posted at Brian Micklethwait’s Old Blog

Vapour trail light

Further evidence (see below) that vapour trail light is my favourite sort of light:

That photo was photoed by me in June 2008. In Quimper I think, but if not in Quimper, then somewhere close.

I had been browsing through the directory in which all my photos from that expedition are stored, and I was struck by how well the best of them came out, despite the fact that the camera I was using was quite antique compared to my current camera. I had always supposed that there had been a big jump in photo quality for me when I got my Lumix ZX150, which was a few years after that. Since that Lumix ZX150, I have had a Lumix ZX200, and now use a Lumix ZX330. All of those Lumixes (Lumes?) being much of a muchness. And I think that’s right, there was quite a jump. Nevertheless, earlier cameras of mine, when the light was really good, did just as well. Where they suffered, by comparison, was when the light was merely quite good.

Vapour trails are a feature of the Brittany sky. Basically, you’re talking about half of all the airplanes from Europe to America, and half of all the airplanes from America to Europe. So, in Brittany, if the weather is vapour trail weather, there will be vapour trails. A lot of vapour trails.

France also has excellent street clutter, with lots of wires. The wires go well with the vapour trails, I think.

Originally posted at Brian Micklethwait’s Old Blog

X marks the spot in the sky

Was out in Bermondsey today, and as usual photoed lots of photos. But the light was dreary, so here is a photo I took in the same place just under a month ago, on February 19th:

Vapour trail weather, which I love. And not just for the vapour trails. In such weather, everything looks good. Those two birds, for instance. They look very good.

Ah, the Summer of February 2019. They don’t make them like that any more, except that they just did.

Originally posted at Brian Micklethwait’s Old Blog

Fighting back against IO and dust

As I said earlier, a nasty old sofa is due to depart from Chateau BMdotcom, and nice new sofa is due to arrive. And as I also said, I hoped it would be in that order. Well, now it looks like the new sofa will be here tomorrow, while the old one is still here. This threatened chaos. In a place already suffering from severe infrastructural overload (aka IO, aka too much crap everywhere and nowhere to put new incoming crap), it’s all I can do to find space for a new copy of the BBC Music Magazine without it getting submerged. Yet today I managed to liberate enough space for another sofa and still have a large chunk of change, volumetrically speaking.

The secret was getting rid of a whole clutch of things like this:

The main things that such devices store are empty air, and dust. Lots and lots of dust.

I also found a pile of home-made versions of the same kind of thing, in which I had been storing more air and more dust, and (this time) nothing else:

That being about a decade’s worth of dust, going by all the bits of paper in the pile that I will soon be culling and compressing.

As one of my heroes, Quentin Crisp, once said, the secret with dust is not to stir it up. Do that, and you find yourself living in a dusty home. Just let it be and it behaves itself very politely.

I now learn (such is the internet) that what Crisp actually said was more like this:

There was no need to do any housework at all. After four years the dirt doesn’t get any worse.

I actually do do some housework, mainly in my living room, so this doesn’t really apply to me and my home. But I like his attitude. That gag about being a “stately homo of England” is also a Crispism. The link above is to a large stack of verbal Crispnesses.

Back to my dust. To get rid of that dust, which did have to be got rid of because the receptacles containing it had to go, I had to carry them out of my bedroom very carefully, into the living room, and part of this involved stepping down from my bed to the floor. Imagine doing that with a tray full of drinks. But, all went well, and I have now liberated a hug gob of space which I had previously thought permanently clogged:

That will accommodate a lot of IO, in the days and weeks to come. Those two boxes on the right can go too, come to think of it. All they contain is big envelopes that I will never use and whose glue long ago stopped working.

Each time I have a campaign against IO, I think that I really have, this time around, completely run out of space. But, each time, it turns out that there’s more, lurking in plain sight.

A good day.

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