I haven’t been getting out much lately, so am instead exploring my photo-archives.
These from March 24th 2012, when I journeyed (and not for the first time) out east to the Victoria Docks, in the vicinity of the then-under-construction Emirates Air-Line, which is that strange ski lift that goes across the River:
As you can see, I especially like the cranes. And the barbed wire. There were even pylons to be seen. Best of all is that newish (-ish now) footbridge.
I used to love that place, and especially then, with all manner of new stuff going on. Memo to self: go back and see how things there have changed. Because, they have surely changed quite a lot.
And this could be the biggest change of the lot. Apparently, spurred on by TikTok, people have recently been riding on the ski lift in large numbers. There’s a first.
I just received an email from Dominic Frisby, plugging his latest aria video, which is entitled I Love Wetherspoons! State of the art culture warfare, which I highly recommend. The aria, not Wetherspoons. I’m not saying that I don’t recommend Wetherspoons, merely clarifying the point I am and am not making there.
So far so good. But the best moment, for me, came right at the end, when I was offered the chance to sample another Frisby musical delight, in the form of something called …:
… Oh, Bollocks.
This is an English word I resort to regularly, and have also already talked about here quite a lot, one of my favourite examples of this word in action being this one, involving taxis. Very satisfying to see bollocks identified by my favourite Dominic as an important English usage. The word communicates a subtle mixture of regret, defiance and hence, consequently, perhaps even a dash (because you never know your luck) of triumph.
The scene with the Angel of Death, right at the end of this video, spoke to me with particular force, what with that personage having recently sat himself down next to me.
Michael Jennings, who is the technical curator of this blog, likes cheese, so maybe he can tell me how I managed to photo this photo:
The thing is, I remember seeing this in front of me recently, just as my train was about to depart from Victoria, and I photoed it, going to a bit of trouble to get it nicely lined up. But the train departed before I was able to discern what the original origin of the message was. “INTERNATIONAL” is just about decypherable from my photo. “CHEESE” is definite.
But who or what was promoting INTERNATIONAL CHEESE? Google google. It’s this. It’s a shop, at Victoria Station. That’s got to be what I photoed.
The Tripadvisor reviews at the other end of that link are what you might call “mixed”. I no longer trust the Internet when pseudonymous people review products, so that severely negative review first up means, to me, nothing.
Big and brand new bridges are pretty rare these days, after a burst of them (or such is my recollection) around two decades ago. So, here is a photo of an Oldie But Goldie, which I encountered on Twitter recently:
This posting is partly because I love that photo, but partly also because I am lunching tomorrow with GodDaughter1’s Dad, who is a renowned bridge engineer, and I need to remind myself to ask him about any good new bridges. If there have been any, he’ll know.
Yesterday’s Duck & Waffle socialising was with, get this, GodDaughter1 and GodDaughter2, These two favourite people of mine had, until yesterday, only met very fleetingly during parties or events at my home, and never properly connected. Yesterday, they got to really talk. And it says everything about what mattered to me about this meetup, and what didn’t, that I actually forgot to bring my regular camera with me, and had to make do with my mobile, which I had with me not to photo but to ensure that we all met up successfully. Which to cut a long and boring story down to its proper size, … we did.
Even more remarkably, I really wasn’t more than mildly bothered to have forgotten the proper camera, because I reckoned the mobile would be okay for my purposes, and I reckon it was. Here, as not promised yesterday evening, are my favourite photos from yesterday, of favourite place of mine, London, as seen from above:
These views could only be photoed through plate glass, so there were many reflections getting in the way. But, you get the pictures. Roof clutter heaven. There were some clouds in the sky (see photo 1), unlike on Saturday, but these were few and small.
The background noise in the place was louder than I’d have liked. It meant I had to shout a bit, and that now makes me cough. On the other hand, we probably had the best table in the house from the views point of view, looking out west, north and east, from its spot on in the far left corner of the floor. Plus, there was a bar which we later visited which had windows looking south, to other nearby Big Things, most notably the Gherkin, but also the top of 22 Bishopsgate, the D&W being at the top of 110 Bishopsgate.
Both these Bishopsgate towers are so bland that they neither of them, to my knowledge, have yet been awarded nicknames. But, 22 Bishopsgate. which is the biggest City of London Big Thing by quite a way, is growing on me. The view of it from the main exit of Liverpool Street Station is very fine, especially in the slightly misty sunshine that prevailed yesterday.
The Tower of London, to be seen in photo 8 above, the one with the Gherkin dominating the foreground, used once upon a time to be the biggest Big Thing in London. Now look at it. Tiny. Tiny even compared to Tower Bridge, let along all the other bigger Things.
And for me, another highlight is the way that the BT Tower stands out west, in photo 6, in isolated splendour. Isolated, I presume, because nothing is allowed to get in the way of all the signals it sends out and receives.
More socialising today. Returned home exhausted and had a sleep. With luck, fuller report with photos follows, although nothing promised. For now, this ice cream photo must suff-ice:
This was in something called the Duck & Waffle, which is way up at the top of a City of London Big Thing. I had ice cream and waffle, the waffle being the reason for the knife and fork. But this worked well for the ice cream also.
A spoon was also provided, and I did use this right at the end after the ice cream, which had begun very cold and solid, had melted.
Here we go:
It’s been a quiet day here at BMNB, which is not surprising given how wonderful the weather has been. Just the right amount of warm. Not a cloud in the sky. Perfect. Who, on a day like this, spends their time looking at a mere blog? Well, a few of you did, but fewer even than usual, and that’s absolutely fine by me given how fine the weather was today.
I journeyed out into south London to visit friends, the above photo being of a big biscuit tin they showed me, which provoked a brief discussion of the decidedly odd role played by biscuits in Roman Catholicism. I had not seen these friends face-to-face since the Plague struck, and it was a hugely enjoyable day, not least because of the chance I had to get to know the young son of the household. I was awake for at least half of last night fretting about whether I’d wake up in time, so was severely sleep deprived this morning. But the company from lunchtime onwards, to say nothing of the lunch itself, was so good that it had me completely forgetting that, and even though it is now nearly midnight I’m still wide awake. Nothing like reconnecting with friends to wake you up, by which I mean wake me up, especially when that company includes a boisterous boy.
As for the weather, well, I seriously doubt whether weather this year will ever be any better than it was today:
1: View from my friends’ garden; 2: Kent House Railway Station, a station whose platform clutter is particularly noticeable; 3: The towers of Vauxhall, as seen through the window of the train back to Victoria, which also reflects the view out of the train window opposite; 4: The same towers through the same window, this time with Brixtonian graffiti in the foreground: 5: More Quite Big Things, this time those surrounding the now dwarfed US Embassy and the newly redeveloped Battersea Power Station. Total number of clouds to be seen: zero.
What has actually been missing from my life in recent months is not biscuits. It has been the chance to meet up with more than only a tiny few good friends. An Osimertinib a day is still way out in front as the best way for my lung cancer to be kept at bay. But, if how today felt is anything to go by, then a very creditable second in that contest is: the best sort of company in the best sort of weather.
Castelnou is a small and impossibly picturesque hill town in the lower reaches of the Pyrenees, in the far south of France. GodDaughter2’s parents and I went by car, just over five years ago now, in May 2016, to check it out. And yes, the weather was as marvellous in Castelnou as it has recently been unmarvellous in London.
Nowadays, I find that my expeditions have as their officially designated destination a spot where I have arranged to meet up with a friend and exchange chat, rather than just a particular physical place I especially want to check out. But as my death approaches, not as fast as I feared it would last Christmas but still faster than I had previously supposed that it would, I find that mere Things, in London or anywhere else, aren’t enough to make me get out of the house at the time previously determined. Partly this is because if I fail to arrive at the Thing at the planned time, the Thing won’t ring me up and ask me where I got to, whereas people are inclined to do just that. And partly because the Internet tells you lots about Things, whereas actually meeting people bestows knowledge and pleasures more profound and subtle than you could obtain by any other communicational means.
The point of this Castelnou expedition was that it was with GodDaughter2’s parents, not that it was to Castelnou. Castelnou was just an excuse for us all to spend time with each other, plus it gave us things to talk about.
But of course, once in Castelnou, I photoed photos galore, of which these are just a few:
A few more things to say.
First, there are cats and dogs involved (as well as a bird statue), hence this posting appearing here on a Friday. The cats were very friendly and sociable. The dogs were more cautiously proprietorial, but none were aggressive. Which I think reflects well on us tourists. We all behave well towards these creatures, and they behaved towards us accordingly.
Second, what’s wrong with being a tourist? I am sure that “tourists” have been featured on the popular TV show Room 101. But if I was ever on Room 101 I would want to banish from the world “tourists who complain about all the other tourists”. Tourism is a fine thing, enjoyable for those of us who do it or we wouldn’t keep doing it, and profitable for those who cater to our needs. Many good things happen because of us tourists. Besides all the deserving people who get to earn a living from it, there are the conversations that tourists have with the locals whom they encounter, and with each other, which can sometimes have have wonderfully creative consequences. Many an economic success story has started with a conversation involving tourists. Tourists bring the world, as it were, to particular places, and places into contact with other places, and thereby are able to provoke creative thoughts that would otherwise not have occurred to anyone.
Does tourism “spoil” places like Castelnou? Hardly. I’ll bet you Castelnou is a much happier, prettier and more interesting place than it was before it started attracting tourists.
And finally, Castelnou is a fine example of an aesthetic process that fascinates me more and more, which is the way that when an architectural style first erupts, it is hated, but then when it settles back into being only a few surviving ruins, people find that same style, to quote my own words in the first sentence of this posting, impossibly picturesque. Castelnou began as a castle, which then gathered dwellings around it. And you can bet that the people in the vicinity of this castle hated it and feared it, that being the whole idea. But once the castles stopped being built in such numbers and when the castles that survived began turning into ruins, they then also turned into objects of affection, first for locals, and then, even more, for visitors from many miles away.
Tangenting somewhat, I was yesterday predicting that the next wave of architectural fashion is going to be a lot more colourful. And it is. But, lots of people will, for as long as this new fashion lasts and seems to be on the march (the military metaphor is deliberate), hate that fashion, and regret the passing of the drearily monochromatic tedium that they now only grumble about (because that is now still on the march).
Is Castelnou perchance the French, or maybe the Catalan, for Newcastle? Sounds like it to me.
Yesterday I had a conversation with a friend, about what is a big topic of now, working at a distance and all that. She mentioned the rise of big work places that consist of hundreds of desks at which you sit with your laptop and work, doing hotdesking, or whatever it’s called. You don’t have your own office, because you aren’t there often enough for that to make sense. And in these hotdesking places two things happen.
First, people eat while working. The people at the other end tend to want you online all the time, and to grumble if you insist on a “lunch hour”, during which you are incommunicado. But, people have to eat, so they do.
Second, the cleaning is not always of the highest standard. For posh all week long offices, cleaning is excellent, but less so for these more downmarket offices.
And the result is a building in which humans are now becoming heavily outnumbered by … mice.
These mice make their homes in the now copious spaces in modern office buildings, between the regular floors, where information cables all have their being. When the office is a bit less occupied than usual, out they come, to eat.
Working at a distance is a good idea, and it is here to say. But it brings and will go on bringing unforeseen difficulties.