Photos are back! (Again)

I know, you’ve heard this before. Here’s hoping it lasts this time.

I celebrate with this photo, taken in the south of France, Perpignan I think, nearly fifteen years ago in June 2005:

I love that, though I say it myself, and although (among another thing) it’s of myself, several times over.

Those Frenchies do love their motorbikes.

A Happy New Year of sport

The weekend just concluded is one of my favourites of the entire year, every year, because of sport. The Six Nations rugby gets started, which this time involved Italy getting slaughtered by Wales 42-0, and Scotland and England getting beaten by Ireland in Ireland and and by France in France. Then on Sunday evening the Super Bowl got started, and went on into the not-that-small hours. The Flyover Country MAGA Chiefs defeated the Coastal Elite 49ers with a great come-back at the end, so I was very happy about that.

Plus there was lots of regular sporting stuff that just happened to be happening. On Saturday morning there was a Big Bash League cricket game in Australia. In the BBL, I care only about how well the English players do, and in this game the Alex Hales Thunder defeated the Phil Salt Strikers.

I even took a look at the Australian Open tennis, in which Djokovich beat somebody. Everyone hates Djokovich, apparently, but he seemed okay to me.

There was also women’s rugby, snooker, and much else besides of a sporting nature, but women’s rugby, snooker, and much else besides of a sporting nature are none of them of great interest to me. What am I, a sporting obsessive?

Then on Sunday afternoon, Spurs beat Man City at English football, which tends not to happen these days. Spurs took both of their two chances, while ManC missed all of their eighteen chances, including a penalty that the Spurs goalie saved. That definitely softened the blow of England losing at the Rugby version of football to France.

What with all this excitement, it feels to me like now is the real beginning of the new year, a feeling intensified this year by Brexit, which caused January 31st to feel exactly like December 31st.

Happy New Year everyone.

The things you learn from lurking on Twitter …

Here:

The most interesting thing about Apsley House, former home of the Duke of Wellington, is that there’s a massive naked statue of Napoleon at the bottom of the stairs.

It’s huge apparently, over eleven feet tall. Official Apsley House website here.

And no, he does not look like Danny de Vito at all. All that hooey about Napoleon being small, “Napoleon complex”, etc. is indeed hooey. (Can’t remember where or when I read this, but I did.)

Colourful architecture in the past and in the future

Tim Dunn tweeted the two photos below as a before/after pair.

Before:

After:

Before being how Wells Cathedral used once upon a time to look, and After being after the Puritans had got rid of all the colouring in, and had added a couple of towers.

In my mind, I connect the idea that medieval cathedrals used to be riots of colour, which seems to be true, in addition to being an attractive idea to many (me included), with the idea that many new and recent buildings might benefit from a similar sort of process in reverse. In short, brightening up.

Here’s the sort of thing I mean:

I downloaded that photo from the www, but then lost where I had found it and couldn’t find it again. Nevertheless, there it is, the Sydney Opera House, lit up with what look like Aboriginal type graphics.

I also came across a French medieval cathedral lit up in colour like old Wells Cathedral

Which is all good, but such a thing only works well at night.

Actual paint, on the other hand, is permanent, and good luck persuading those who have got used to plain stone colour that they should instead get used to a highly controversial version of what their cathedral might have been like in the past.

Time for someone to invent magic electronic paint. This is the sort of pain which you can slap on just like regular paint, except that it is transparent, like varnish. But this varnish is different, because it consists of a billion tiny mass produced little magic spheres which, when activated by a magic message from afar, can light up in whatever colour you want. You sit down with your computer and Photoshop in lots of colours, and then you switch it on. Voila! It looks like it used to, before the Puritans went all puritanical with the first lot of paint. But, it’s only temporary so the grumblers who would have grumbled very obstructively will only grumble a bit and not enough to stop it. More Photoshopping means that you can switch to a totally different colour scheme, just by switching another switch.

Soon, all the now ugly concrete monstrosities will be covered in this magic paint, and the world will become a more colourful and much better place. Patent pending.

Those Frenchies do love their motorbikes

Yes they do. Here are some I photoed on my recent trip to their country:

And here is a particularly interesting motorbike specimen, which I spotted inside a shop in Perpignan:

You see what they did there? They put a classic motorbike next to one of the great design classics of the twentieth century, the Barcelona Chair. What this says to me is: This motorbike is a work of art also. My photos are not works of art, on account of unwanted reflections, but they make the point I’m making well enough.

The best motorbike I encountered, and photoed with its owner’s proud permissions, was this one, photoed right at the end of my stay, while being driven back to Carcassone Airport:

The nearest thing to this bike I could find on the www was this. Not a perfect match, but an exact match on the colour scheme front.

I like to think that the French see something philosophical, Sartrian, existentialist, in their bikes. What with you riding a motorbike, today could be your last day alive! So climb on your bike and find your true self! Or something. I put this or something like it to a friend earlier this evening, and she said maybe they like bikes because unlike us lot here, they have roads where you can really ride motorbike on properly. Sadly, I think that makes more sense.

On how we love animals (except when we love how they taste)

While in France, I read the whole of The Square and the Tower, and then embarked upon The Ape that Understood the Universe.

In the latter book, the matter of how humans get all sentimental about animals is mentioned (pp. 59-60):

… Why do so many people take such delight in staring at infant members of other species? It’s not as if, say, porcupines enjoy staring at baby chickens. As with porn, our love of these nonhuman animals is probably not an adaptation. More than likely, it’s spillover from psychological mechanisms designed for more human-centered purposes. There’s a certain cluster of traits that people everywhere find irresistibly cute. This includes big round eyes in the center of the face, a small nose, and plump, stubby limbs. Our affection for creatures with these features presumably evolved to motivate us to care for our own infants and toddlers. But the same features are found in many other infant mammals, and even in the adult members of some nonhuman species. As a result, we often feel affectionate and protective toward these individuals as well – not because it’s adaptive, but just because adaptations aren’t perfect. By the way, as you might already have noticed, the spill over hypothesis doesn’t just explain our fondness for cute animal videos. It also hints at an explanation for a much older and more pervasive phenomenon: our habit of keeping pets.

Motivated I am sure by exactly this sort of fondness for animals myself, I have become more and more intrigued by this general human propensity. Which is why so many of my photos involve non-human creatures of one sort or another.

Here are some of the non-human creatures photos I photoed while in France recently:

Even the photos involving signs urging dog owners to clear up canine crap (photos 12, 14 and 17) are about our positive feelings towards animals, because the offending dogs are pets. And even the two plastic barrier things (photo 16) are “other creatures”, in the sense that we insist on seeing the faces of creatures where there are none, even though these particular non-creatures each have only one eye. Yes, we do love these creatures.

And yet, by way of a corrective, we also do these kinds of things to particularly tasty creatures, in this case to various mammals and to fishes:

Yum.

Mystery lake in the south of France

I spent my day doing domestic chores, and my blogging time, such as it was, going through all the photos I photoed in France, copying many of them into separate directories by subject matter. Motor bikes, Christmas decorations, roof clutter, health and safety signs, that kind of thing. I’m still wondering how and what to show here, so in the meantime, here is the very first thing in France that I photoed:

I am one of those very infrequent flyers for whom the view out of an airplane window is still rather magical, even out of a manky old Ryanair window. But the weather for my journeys from Stansted to Carcassonne and back was cloudy. I saw very little, and photoed almost nothing.

But I did photo the above lake, somewhere north-ish of Carcassonne, seven minutes before we landed there. However, my best Google maps efforts did not manage to locate this distinctively shaped stretch of water.

There is one commenter here in particular (happy new year Alastair), who says he finds it hard to resist trying to identify things I photo, which I myself cannot identify. Maybe he can help.

I have been in France

I have indeed. Been in France. I didn’t tell you, my readers, because I did not wish London’s criminal community to be aware that, if they wished to plunder my home, the last week would have been the week to have been doing it. Silly I know, but I actually have been robbed, or at any rate attempted robbed. He climbed the stairs, knocked on the door, but I was slow to answer and he broke the door down. When I finally gave the guy my attention he fled, but I don’t want anything like that happening again, I can tell you. That is, I can tell you now.

So yes, I have been in France. I took many photos, as you would expect, but here’s a France related photo I took just now, in my very own kitchen, here in my very own London:

I bought this bottle of grapefruit Volvic at Carcassonne Airport this afternoon. I sipped it during the flight home, and finished it here. Delicious. Yet, I have never come across grapefruit Volvic in London. In London, Volvic is mostly a particularly disgusting and pointless sort of fruit flavoured sugar water, but made with fake sugar, which tastes like something concocted in a laboratory by mad scientists hellbent on killing every human now alive with extreme obesity. British Volvic used to do orange, and I still encounter that from time to time. Also delicious. But, grapefruit Volvic, in London, does not happen. I googled “volvic grapefruit”, and Google, which knows I am a English, spontaneously changed the subject entirely to foreign parts. It had nothing English to tell me about this subject.

This is terrible. I hereby protest. (See this posting for why I like to complain about capitalism from time to time, even though capitalism is obviously superior to all known alternatives.)

Natoor?

“Natoor” because the word is “Nature”, but in French.

Ever since I did a post here mentioning the plan for a Disneyland London, Twitter has been regularly Twittering me a picture of this new Disneyland building in Paris:

“Stay at Les Vlllages Nature.”

I like the look from above of this Thing, and I especially like how it would appear that you can walk to the top on the outside, Snøhetta style. But it doesn’t look very Natoor.