Today I did Something (and saw five e-scooters (which are cool))

Typically, for the last few months, I have days and days of doing nothing other than whatever I feel inclined to do. On such days, doing two, three or even four blog postings here is doable. But give me a Something that I have to do, and there goes about two thirds of the day.

Once again, I think this is one of the many symptoms of getting old, for poor old me, anyway. Being old, I now need an hour or more to get myself worked up into a sufficiently active state to do the Something in question, and then when it’s done, I need a couple more hours to recover my wits. On a day like that, me doing three or four blog postings is a lot less likely. Today, if you include this one, I will have done three postings. But the first two were very perfunctory, more like tweets done on a blog than your actual blog postings. This one is a bit longer, but that’s just because it’s a ramble.

The silly thing is, the Something I did today was all done and dusted within about one hour. I stepped outside, went to my nearby bank, did my bank business, and then, because the weather was rather filthy, I just went straight home again. But even that made a big dent in my day.

The reason I mention all this is to make that same e-scooter point I’ve been obsessing about here lately, to the effect that e-scooters are about to conquer the world, aka London. Every time I go out, even just to the shops and back, I see several e-scooters. Today, the e-scooter count was: five. That’s a personal record. Five. In the space of less than an hour. I didn’t even try to photo any of them. Like I say, the weather was filthy, and cameras and rain do not mix well. Also, e-scooters are fast and are gone before I can photo them. That they’re fast is why they catching on so fast.

Maybe I should stop this posting now, but here’s another e-scooter thing. A friend with whom I recently discussed my current fascination with e-scooters said: You may be right about why e-scooters make sense. Trouble is: They’re naff. The people who ride on them are twats. E-scooters are not cool.

This friend, however, although far younger than me, is nevertheless no longer of the age where she gets to decide these things. It is teenagers and twenties who determine the coolness of lack of it of things like e-scooters. All my e-scooter sightings today were of teenagers or twenties. Clearly, these teenagers and twenties think that e-scooters are cool enough for them to allow themselves to be seen on them in public, given the advantages to them, in such things as speed and convenience. What old codgers think is only of concern to them if they can be doing something that the codgers disapprove of. If the old codgers, under the delusional impression that they think they can decide such things, think that e-scooters are not cool, so what? That’s just their old codger way of saying they don’t approve. Good. That’s a feature, not a bug. Bring on the e-scooters!

I am still not fully recovered from doing all that tedious Something I did earlier today. So, I reserve the right to go through this tomorrow morning and do whatever grammatical tidying and spell-checking is necessary. As of now, I’m too knackered to bother. I trust it still makes sense, despite whatever communicational blunders now afflict it.

Maintenance issues should now be sorted

Any person who have had anything to do with IT (aka everybody) knows, when IT work is being done (even something as humble as doing some rearranging of a little blog like this one), that the word “should” can cover a multitude of unforeseen disruptions. So, maybe the little round of maintenance issues that Michael was dealing with over the weekend and then again this morning (he refers to them in comment 4 here) have, in reality, not yet been entirely sorted. But Michael and I both believe we have good reason to hope that, now, they have been.

One thing that you may have suffered from is that if you clicked on a link from a posting here to another posting here you may, depending on when you did this, have been told “about: blank”, instead of getting to the linked posting. This was caused by the fact that this blog was being migrated (to somewhere cheaper) but migrated before its name had been migrated. It changed its name from “brianmicklethwaitsnewblog” to “3.8.5.22”, and helpfully changed all the links from here to somewhere else here accordingly. It had then to be persuaded that its name was still brianmicklethwaitsnewblog. Which it now has been. As in: should have been.

Other strange things happened this morning, but they too have stopped, and so, touch wood and hope to die, all should now be well. If all from where you sit seems not to be well, please comment to that effect. (That’s assuming the comments system is itself working. Follow the above link and you’ll learn of three lost comments from last night.)

What I’m basically saying is: Sorry if you’ve been mucked about, but with any luck it should have stopped now.

New River walk with GodDaughter1 from Bounds Green to Enfield

On April 2nd 2016, GodDaughter1 and I went on a photo-expedition along the New River. It was most enjoyable, and I prepared another of those big photo-clutches that I could seldom bother to do on the Old Blog, so that you can now, if you feel like it, click-click-click through them on this New Blog. But I also wanted to link back to an earlier posting I did about a rather exotic looking duck that we had encountered that same day.

For reasons explained in this posting, all postings on the Old Blog linked back to from this blog have to have been transferred to the New Blog. So, here I am linking back to What sort of duck is this?

But, problem. That posting itself linked back to a posting about Trees pruned into strange sculptures, because GD1 and I encountered a really strange piece of tree surgery (photo (6.2), on that same expedition.

Which, in its turn linked back to Losing the leaves in Victoria Park, because, well, because it did. So that had to be transferred across too.

When I put it like that, it all seems pretty simple. But following the link chain backwards and then forwards again, opening up each posting about four times over, was the Grandma of all muddles that I had not seen coming, and muddles you do not see coming can get really muddled.

Anyway, it’s all sorted now, and here are all those photos I mentioned, at the top of this:

My favourite is the plate-shaped foliage that has been emptied upside down into the water (photo 28 (4.4)).

There’s lots more I could say about all these photos, but this posting has already gone on far too long, and I confine myself now to saying: See also the plaque about Sir Hugh Myddelton (photo 37 (5.5)), who designed the New River. Designed? You don’t design rivers. They’re just there. But yes, he designed it. The point being it was designed and built, to supply London with fresh water, right at the beginning of the seventeenth century. So, at a time when so many stupid things were in the process of happening, something truly creative also happened.

Well, one other thing: the occasional interpolation of extreme urbanness (e.g. a newspaper headline about Ronnie Corbett (photo 27 (4.3)) and the van covered in stickers (photo 21 (3.5)) is because when you walk along beside the New River, it sometimes dives underground and you have to go up to regular London, until you get to the next bit.

Lockdown chat with Patrick

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.

Two Big Thing alignments in one photo

This afternoon, I found myself at Oval Tube, seeing a man about a mobile phone. The weather was filthy, just short of actual heavy rain, so you’d think there’d not be a lot of photo-fun to be had, but actually I photoed several things of note.

The photos describe just one of these circumstances.

Okay. First, I’ve arrived at Oval tube (by bus rather than by tube ut the point is that’s where I was), and I crossed the road in the direction of the City of London, that being the direction we’re now looking:

Now, here comes the kill shot, the photo this posting is all about. I’m zooming in on the what you can only see above in the far distance:

Forget the filthy weather. Just look at what we’re seeing there. There are two major Big Thing alignments happening there, in just the one photo. Top right, Shard next to Strata. (Strata is the official name of the one with three holes in the top. The unofficial name is something like “Razor”, but that’s never really caught on, because too few people in London care about this Thing to bother naming it.)

And the other Big Thing alignment, below and to the left of the centre of the photo, is the Walkie-Talkie and the Scalpel. (Another version of this same alignment, from the actual Oval, can be seen in this posting.

I did two further photos of each separate alignment there, but separate photos defeats the point of what is really happening here, which is that both are in the same scene and the same photo.

Besides which, I already blogged about the Strata/Shard alignment, in this posting from 2014. Click on that and you’ll see that what I was looking for then was to get the Shard right behind the Strata.

I just copied this posting over from the Old Blog, so I could link back to it without inflicting upon you the Screen of the Red Death. You’re welcome.

However, there seems to be a problem with that earlier posting, which is that I appear to be in the wrong place, according to the map there. In the above photo, the Shard is alongside the Strata. The actual Shard is further away and a lot taller. In order to see the Shard above the Strata, I needed to be further away. Yes, I just checked the original directory of photos (actually photoed in 2012 (from which those photos for the 2014 were selected)). To get those I was actually nearer to Stockwell tube, i.e. much further away. So it wasn’t that I didn’t notice that both alignments were photoable in one photo; I wasn’t in the right place to see it.

Besides which, in 2012, and for matter in 2014, there was no Scalpel. It wasn’t finished until 2018. So, the other alignment was not then seeable from anywhere. I almost certainly have photos to prove that, but this posting is already way out of control, and needs to stop, now.

Two people and two things I am missing

From the photo-archives, December 2014:

That’s a photo of two of my favourite people, GodDaughter2 and GodDaughter2’s Mum, walking by the sea, somewhere on the coast of Brittany. Think of this photo as my version of what we are all going through now, not being able to socialise with those we would most like to be socialising with.

Here are a couple more Things I’ll miss:

Those are the Twin Towers of Quimper Cathedral, all photoed on the same trip, in December of 2014 and January of 2015. Quimper being the city in Brittany where they all lived for quite a while. But that while is now gone, so no more trips to Quimper for me.

Think of these four photos as photos of Quimper Cathedral, that being what they are.

Close-up ducklings

The same friend who photoed this bird, photoed these little birds, in Clissold Park, two days ago, again with an iPhone:

One duckling in particular, really.

Guns didn’t cause birds to become more friendly, because the ones who did get friendly also tended to get shot. But birds survive being photoed, and are evolving rapidly into creatures that are no longer scared of us. Photoing birds may steal their souls, but they don’t care about that. They care about their next meal, and humans often supply this. Even humans with cameras, sometimes.

One Park Drive – in January 2019 and now

For me, January 17th 2019 began wonderfully, with scaffolding.

I was on my way to meet up with occasional commenter here Alastair James, in Docklands, and it was a great day. Meeting him in Docklands was great, and what I saw afterwards was great too. Highlight: the Optic Cloak, one of my favourite pieces of London public sculpture.

In among those highlights, I also got to see the architectural state of affairs in Docklands. It helped that it was January so the trees helped rather than getting in the way.

I was especially impressed by One Park Drive, which has a real Chicago vibe to it. Right down to “Park Drive”, which sounds very Chicago to me. Definitely USA.

On the left, below, is how One Park Drive was looking in January 2019:

And on the right there is how it is looking now, in a Mick Hartley photo posted on his blog yesterday. He calls Docklands:

A ghost town waiting for the world to start up again.

Which sounds about right. Except that ghosts don’t like hot and sunny weather, do they? (Good news: nor does the Coronavirus.)

I hadn’t realised, when I saw it, how much taller One Park Drive was eventually going to be. Like so many buildings these days, it maybe looked more fun when being constructed than it looks now it’s finished. All those ziggy-zaggy bits of concrete, somewhat smoothed out in the finished Thing.

A recorded conversation by phone

Today, Patrick Crozier and I at last got around to doing the recorded conversation we failed to do earlier. About the Allied WW2 bombing offensive.

We did it down the phone rather than face-to-face, and doing it down the phone, what with the phone now being such an antiquated piece of kit, was what had caused the delay. (I am still trying to find the microphone that I swear I do own. Had I found it a fortnight ago, that would have saved Patrick a lot of bother.)

How satisfactory our conversation will turn out to be for others to listen to remains to be heard. I was a bit disorganised, not so much in what I said as in the order in which I said it. I tended to jump back and forth, or so it felt to me. But that wasn’t my phone’s fault, and communication between me and Patrick felt more exact and responsive than I had been fearing. Like most, I make constant use of my phone to keep in touch with friends and collaborators of various sorts, but mere communication is not the same as sharing a performance with whoever’s down the line. I did do performances like this on the radio back in the last century, but then I had no way to compare like with like, because each performance was different, and done with different people. This time I was able to make a more exact comparison, between this conversation with Patrick and previous conversations, of the same sort, also with Patrick. And, as I say, it felt more similar and less of a struggle than I had feared.

Accordingly, I very slightly revise my opinion about the efficacy of working at a distance. It is a little bit easier than I had earlier been thinking. Not that this will diminish the amount of work done in a city like London, and in particular in the centre of London. There is no fixed quantity of work, with more work moving to outside London automatically meaning less work being done in London. On the contrary, the easier it becomes to work outside London, the more busy London will be, keeping track of it all, placing bets on it, and generally doing its London stuff.

The fundamental importance of face-to-face communication remains. In the case of me and Patrick, we know each other well. We’ve met often and talked a lot face-to-face, over the years, in London. Because we know each other well, communication at a distance also works well, and actually, somewhat better than I had expected.

LESS THAN ONE DAY LATER: It’s up.

No shininess at Eltz

Nudged, I’m guessing, by this posting of mine, Michael Jennings earlier this month Facebooked this closer-up photo he had photoed of Eltz Castle:

A classic of ancient adhocistical anarchy, I think you’ll agree. The very definition of picturesque.

But I also show this photo of Michael’s because I think it illustrates the opinion I expressed in this earlier shininess or architectural modernity posting. There is no shininess in the above photo, not even in the windows on show. (The things I like best are always the things that tell me how right I was, I find.)

An obvious reason for that is that the windows seem all to be recessed from the surfaces of buildings. But there seems to be another reason. Take a look at this Eltz Castle photo, this time an interior shot (one of those here):

Very lavish, but that’s not my point. Which is: Look again at those windows, the ones with all the circles. They look like Ancientist fakes to me, but Ancientist or genuinely ancient, what those windows illustrate is that glass existed for a long time before they worked out how to make its surface smooth and flat. Above all, they took a long time to work out how to make big sheets of glass, such as we moderns now take for granted. And it’s that total absence of large and smooth and shiny surfaces that does so much to explain the different atmosphere radiated by ancient architecture.

At Eltz, you might get occasional flashes of light, little splinters. And you can see great stuff in old windows, from the inside, as the above photo also illustrates lavishly. But you’re never going to see anything reflected in glass like that, outside. Not any Thing, that you can recognise.