Happy Birthday Dear GodDaughter2!

Happy Birthday is the worse song there is, because you only ever hear it sung by people who would never, never otherwise attempt choral singing. But this song, they do attempt, with a combination of extreme shitness and the excruciating embarrassment that comes with everyone knowing that they are perpetrating extreme shitness upon one another. This ghastly song reaches its nadir of ghastliness with that high note towards the end: Happy Birthday dear … whoever. Ghastly. Totally, totally ghastly. I have never heard Happy Birthday not sung ghastlily.

And then came last night. Last night I attended GodDaughter2’s birthday party, here. GodDaughter2 is studying how to sing, at the Royal College of Music, and so were the majority of those also present at the party. Oh, there were some civilians present, but the heart of it was singers. So there I was just sitting there, spouting rubbish to some poor defenceless singer, who had to listen to me because I am GodDaughter2’s Godfather, when, guess what: Happy Birthday starts up, behind me. I do not turn to look, thank goodness, because I am a very poor judge of singing when I am looking at it being sung. I just listen. And as soon as it gets under way, I realise that, for once, the Happy Birthday bit at the end is going to be sung not just non-shittily, but actually well, really well. So I don’t just enjoy that bit when it finally arrives, I am able to relish beforehand how good it was going to be. It was the opposite, in other words, of how Happy Birthday usually happens, when all present know beforehand how shit it will be, especially the last bit. and then have to listen to how shit that last bit especially duly is.

So Happy Birthday last night was … well, St Matthew Passion, eat your heart out. It was glorious. The high note was nailed to perfection by all who attempted it, and there were also harmonies. And I did not see this coming. I had forgotten all about Happy Birthday. It all happened in a rush. And when something that is usually ghastly is instead glorious, the glory is at least twice as glorious.

The entire party was, so far as I could judge after one champagne and two pints of lager (to get how that would be for you, multiply by three – I have a low alcohol threshold): really good. But even if the only thing about it that was good had been Happy Birthday, it would still have been great to have been there.

Sir Keith Park closer up

In an earlier posting here, I mentioned and included a photo of the statue of Sir Keith Park outside the Athenaeum. I like this statue, and I admire its subject. Here is another photo of that same statue, from closer up, that I photoed last October:

I am busy getting ready to give a talk about Modern Architecture this evening, so that’s probably it for today. Ancient Architecture, like that behind the above statue, will also be getting a mention. I am taking a book about Quinlan Terry with me, to wave at the audience, although I may forget to do this.

Electric tree

Last week I dined in Putney with friends. Delightful, even if it did make my coughing worse. And then, almost as delightful was the electric tree I encountered next to the big red building, aka Novaat Victoria Station, having arrived there by bus at about one in the morning.

These photos are only so-so, but I think the tree deserves celebrating nevertheless. I especially like how it looks so different from different angles:

The main reason I’m posting these particular photos, vertical ones, is to make sure I can. My Photoshop(clone) and Windows Photo Viewer between them manage to introduce confusion about whether vertical photos are really vertical, or need rotating. It turns out they need rotating through ninety degrees, and then in Windows they seem like the tree has been laid down on its side. But when I then transfer them into the blog, they come out standing upright.

By the way, the third photo is the tree reflected in a nearby shop window.

Early good impressions of my new Dyson vacuum cleaner

My home is too dusty, and that’s partly because vacuuming with an uncordless (cordful?) vacuum cleaner is not fun. So, I don’t do it nearly enough. There is a big push on to get us all to buy cordless vacuum cleaners, and I told my friend that I wanted one too, and could she help? She did. Upshot, a new but very mildly obsolete Dyson V6, which was much admired by all who intennet-reviewed it, at a considerably reduced price, refurbished and guaranteed by Dyson itself. It arrived this afternoon, thanks to a nearby post office.

I’ve already done a bit of cleaning with it, and although it is rather noisy, it is clearly going to get more used than the old vacuum cleaner with its electric wire all over the place everywhere and its tediously long pipe connecting the bit that does the dusting to the clunky old mothership but still not nearly long enough to avoid having the lug the damn machine around when I am vacuuming.

But the thing that really impressed me was this:

That’s the adapter, for recharging this new gizmo. That’s the plug and the wire that makes this new wireless vacuum cleaner actually wireless, when you’re actually vacuuming with it. And it is highly likely that this adapter/recharger will remain completely recognisable as the recharger for my vacuum cleaner. It even has “Dyson” written on it.

Most such contrivances look like these ones:

That’s a photo I also took today of the drawer were I keep some of my many no-longer-used adapters. (I have others.) I fear to chuck out any of these because who knows when I might turn out to need one of them? These things can be hellishly expensive to replace, because the internet can detect your desperation and it prices accordingly, and anyway, when you want to find the right sort of adapter you want to get your hands on it now. But, once any of these get separated from the original object of their attentions, it becomes pure guesswork which one is the right one. Or rather, it becomes a skill that I personally don’t have. I have friends who could probably help me with this nonsense, but it’s still nonsense.

But this Dyson adapter will continue to identify itself as the adapter for my Dyson vacuum cleaner. It’s a weird not-quite-black colour, the exact same weird not-quite-black-black colour as its gizmo. It is a very individual shape, unlike all the other regular-black adapters in the above drawer. Best of all, it says Dyson on it.

I’m impressed. This suggests to me what already feels like it’s true for the gizmo as a whole, which is that this Dyson V6 has been very well designed, with every aspect of its design having been thought about carefully.

Churchill War Rooms gallery

One of the nice things about people coming to stay is that you often find yourself visiting touristy but interesting things that you’d never quite get around to seeing on your own. Later, maybe, but not today. It’ll always be there won’t it?

Touristy things like: the Churchill War Rooms. In February of last year, nearly two years ago now, GodDaughter2’s Dad was in town, and that’s one of the places we went.

And I took the odd photo or two. Well, more like 350, of which here are 84:

A big spread of photos like that would have been an impossibly tedious operation to stick up at Brian Micklethwait’s Previous Blog, and an equally tedious business for you to be scrutinising. But now, here they all are, and you can do the usual, clicking through as quickly or as slowly as you like. Enjoy. Especially if you rarely or never visit London, and have no plans to see this place for real.

There’s a million things I could say about it. One of the more striking of the photos above is photo 33, which shows how thick the concrete was protecting everything, from all but the most direct of direct hits, that passage that you see having been drilled through afterwards, when they were turning these working spaces into a place people could visit and circulate around.

Other talking points? Well, lots of signs and souvenirs, often signs made into souvenirs, for sale in the inevitable gift shop. And also: signs that are not Original but Modern. Signs with lots of words. Which is appropriate, given how important Churchill knew words (see photo 80) to be.

Most of the human figures that you see are not real; they’re sculpted. And “Other creatures” is in the category list because, inevitably, there are bulldogs.

I did all the bard work for this posting before I got ill, and I’m still not fully recovered. So, please continue to wish me well.

Colourfully painted croissant

Today I met up with a friend, in even more central London. She had what looked like Soylent Green, in a glass. I had coffee in a similar glass, and a croissant. The croissant made me grateful, but not so much for how it tasted, more for how it looked. Which was why I photoed it before I ate it:

What I want to know is: Did they paint the pink raspberry-flavoured paint on the croissant pastry before it was rolled up into a croissant, or afterwards? I’m going with: before. But, when it comes to colourfully painted croissants, what do I know? This is the first time I ever met one.

Black car – yellow leaves

Photoed a few minutes before that photo below of Sherlock Holmes smoking at Baker Street tube, just outside the Indian restaurant where me and the Boys Curry Night gang had just been dining:

This is one of those photos which is actually better than the original scene, as seen through my aging human eyes. The original scene was pretty dull. The car wasn’t shiny black, just a black car. The leaves were’t bright yellow, merely somewhat yellow. Ish. It would seem that my camera took all this dullness and cranked up the contrast and brightness of its own accord. I thought something like this might happen, which is why I photoed the photo. What was there to lose? (Digital photoing is not that cheap, but the marginal cost of the next photo is zero, as good as.)

The opposite of sunsets, in other words. They look fabulous for real, but in my photos, not nearly so dramatic.

Food photoing

GodDaughter2 works in a famed ice cream emporium. (They call it “gelato”.) When I met up with her there recently, I photoed a customer photoing her ice cream. For some reason she wanted an autumnal background, which was supplied by an autumnal plant, in a pot, right next to where the rest of us were eating:

As the above photo illustrates, when food is being photoed, others are usually doing the photoing of it, and I am photoing them.

But this evening, in (the?) Zeret Kitchen, which is the other side of the Oval from me, it was me doing the photoing, of my pudding. The light was a bit dim, but I and my Lumix FZ330 did what we could:

Very tasty. And also very visual, which is why I photoed it. People in places like this Zeret Kitchen prepare food to look good as well as to taste good, and I liked the look of this pudding, as well as how it later tasted. So: photo.

This was Boys Curry Night, and two of fellow curriers photoed me as I photoed the pudding. So it’s possible that there may be a bit below this, starting with “LATER”, and featuring another photo.

Tasting the sunshine out east last August

Yes, last summer I went on several exeditions to such places as the Dome, and beyond. Here is a clutch of photos I photoed in the beyond category. On August 11th, I journeyed to the Dome, then took the Dangleway across the River to the Victoria Docks, and walked along the north side of them, ending my wanderings at the City Airport DLR station:

There are two of these favourite sculptures to be seen, in Photo 7 and Photo 11.

There are 35 photos in all. I think maybe my favourite is 33, which includes an advert that says: “OH REALLY?” I like that, for some reason.

Photo 27 has a sign, on the side of the Tate & Lyle factory, saying “TASTE THE SUNSHINE”. It was a very sunny day. I count three that include shadow selfies (23, 24, 31).

It is so much easier doing this kind of thing than it was at The Old Blog. (My thanks yet again to Michael J, who did this new blog for me.)