Hello again

After writing the previous posting here, about how BMNB dot come is now being wound down, from a daily to an occasional blog, I was determined that my next piece of bloggage would be for Samizdata, and it was. It’s a piece about this book by Stephen Davies. It took me a week to get my posting about this from two thirds first drafted to finished, but that just proves how limited my energy is just now, and how right I was to stop doing something here every day. Even that had become about all I could manage, and that was not what I now want to be managing.

But, as this posting demonstrates, there will be occasional bits here, still, even if only because I have been urged to link from here to all future Samizdata pieces that I manage to do.

It matters a lot to me that in this latest Samizdata piece, I make no mention at all of my medical disappointments. Writing pieces like this is, for me, now, the difference between still being alive, and just existing from one day to the next, in a state of slow but detectably steady, undignified and demoralising physical disintegration.

That and communicating with my nearest and dearest. To all those n+ds and other friends who have taken the trouble to visit me for chats, my deepest thanks. But, if I wasn’t still attempting to say stuff a bit more publicly than that, even those chats would mean a lot less. I blog therefore I am. It wasn’t always so, but it feels like that now.

To all those who commented on the previous posting, thanks for all the kind words. It felt a bit like I was hearing some of the eulogies at my own funeral.

Rider’s view of a horse with a red hat

A swan photo with a difference, and now a horse photo with a difference. Well, I like it:

A friend went riding in Windsor Park this afternoon. I grew up around there, and went to school in Windsor for a while.

Post box cosy with swan and cygnets

Posted by a friend on Facebook today:

Swans being so very elegant, I am only one of many who likes to photo them, and there’s nothing special about my swan photos, unless the swans are the wrong colour, that being a posting here that keeps on being visited from time to time. But these knitted swans are definitely swans with a difference.

The BBC has more.

Patrick and I talk sport

Yes, the latest recorded conversation between me and Patrick Crozier is up. It’s about sport. My pet theory, that the rise of professional sport and the ending (for now (fingers crossed)) of great wars between great powers are not coincidental events, gets another airing. I expanded because it sounded like Patrick was having his ear bent on this topic for the first time. I swear I’ve mentioned it before. Should also have mentioned a famous earlier peace episode, the Pax Romana, which gave rise to the custom-built sports arena in the first place, gladiators, etc. Forgot.

Our conversation happened just before the Euro2020 (that happened in 2021) semi-finals. Patrick doesn’t care to watch England games because England have disappointed him so often. I resist watching them because I can’t help getting sucked in and my nerves can’t take it, so I keep half an eye, rather than the usual two, on the game, while internet surfing.

Perry de Havilland on those Covid demonstrations

Well, I managed to do a posting that I had merely hoped to do for Samizdata, about the Covid demo in London the weekend before last, linking back here to all the photos of it that I stuck up here.

Here. and there, I added some rather rambling verbiage about how I had mixed feelings about such demos. Do they work? What do they achieve? That kind of thing.

And I really liked Perry de Havilland’s comment on my Samizdata piece in response:

Demonstrations are much misunderstood; particularly ones like this (& this was a huge demonstration).

They are not going to change state policy directly because that just isn’t how things work, they are mostly about deisolating activists, they are about demonstrating to the demonstrators that they are not crazy (even if some of them are as is the case in any group of disparate people).

Demonstrations are a building process. Demonstrations in this case are particularly effective at highlighting assorted lies about this particular disease. After all, get hundreds of thousands unmasked unvaccinated people shouting for a few hours face to face, there is going to be an observable spike in deaths each time, right? Right? 🤣

Some demonstrations against the lockdown got hammered by the police earlier on … why? Because they were small enough to get hammered by the police to try and discourage other demonstrations. In this demonstration, the police were so vastly outnumbered, by a march that refused to even tell the police where it was going to march (by design), there was never any chance it could be stopped with truncheons. And the demonstration’s organisation was connected yet dispersed, utterly protean: a couple organisers were arrested before the march to try and derail it, and expecting that, others on various platforms seamlessly took over.

What THAT demonstrates to the marchers is that resistance is not futile, they are not alone. In fact, they are legion. It was an anti-lockdown march but it was also an anti-media march, giving lie to the idea that utterly dominating the media dominates public opinion (as if Brexit had not already proven the falsity of that in the internet age). How many times do crap opinion polls have to get it wrong for demonstrable things (such as election & referendum outcomes) for you to stop believing them when things are less demonstrable?

If you don’t ‘get it; then who cares; you are most likely not the target audience. But these marches are not a pointless hissy fit like some marches, these particular marches are literal in-your-face defiance of instructions by the state intending to protect you from “the inevitable consequences of a terrible disease spreading amongst crowds”. These marches are an absolute refusal to obey & a demonstration that the state relies on your willing even if grudging compliance, because there is a tipping point beyond which they do not have enough people with truncheons to force your compliance. That is what demonstrations like this are for & it is working just fine.

Perry and I have since talked further about this, and it is clear, from his and other comments, that libertarianism, as I merely speculated hopefully, really is spreading amongst those demonstrators. In general, says Perry, a lot of people are going to be radicalised by Covid, more precisely: by the response to Covid. This will take time, as the economic damage done by this response makes itself felt and as the facts start emerging in greater detail, both the scientific facts and the policy making facts. Of course, nothing like all of this radicalising will be in a libertarian direction, but a lot of it will.

And I had completely ignored the crucial point that this one was a demonstration in favour of the right to demonstrate, and in defiance of the claim that demonstrations would spread The Plague.

Perry and I also agreed that if it had been a real Plague – dead bodies in the street, double digit percentage deaths and so on – our attitude would have been very different. This is an argument about the mishandling of medical data, not just a libertarian “hissy fit”, to quote his phrase.

Although, I rather suspect that for many, “hissy fit” is simply a demonstration they don’t agree with. Which was why I mentioned those pro-Remain demos in what I wrote at Samizdata. I disagreed with those demos, yet they were clearly demos, and they clearly will have consequences, even if not those that the demonstrators will be fully satisfied with, of just the sort that Perry described.

Perry also mentioned how getting to know this lady had informed his thinking on these matters. He zeroed in on this sentiment, that I also mentioned in that earlier posting:

Being a dissident wasn’t about overthrowing the regime; it was merely about staying sane.

In other words demos say, if only to the demonstrators, but typically also to many sympathetic but timid onlookers: You are not the only ones thinking like this.

Adding Wembley to the big model of London

i’ve always liked that big model of London at the Building Centre in Store Street. Well, it’s not there any more. But, relax. It’s moved, to King’s Cross.

And, there’s now more of it than there used to be:

And that’s the new bit, off to the north west of London.

To me, this is an interesting photo, because it highlights the imperfections of this model. I don’t know about you, but to me it looks like large swathes of north west London are flooded, especially, because of the accidents of lighting, in the top right of the photo. That being because both the buildings and the ground they are stuck on are both, actually, so very rudimentary. The land is just a shiny sheet of plastic. And there’s no up and down to be seen, of the land. Only of the buildings.

And those railway lines. They look like continuous railway stations, I reckon.

I look forward to the day when you can flap about over London, for about one fine day, in a helicopter, hoovering up photos, and then shovel all the photos into a 3D-printing machine which can then spit out the final model. And, that model then looks an order of magnitude more realistic than this one does. With all the right colours and shapes and heights, as big as you want, any scale you want, just as it would look from an airplane. That would really be something.

Meanwhile, this Store Street/King’s Cross model only hints at such excellence, in isolated moments when they decided to go all-out and make at least a few of the buildings look as they do in real life, instead of like they were made of Lego (before Lego started cheating by making special shaped bits).

For instance: Oh look, there’s Wembley Stadium, looking remarkably like actual Wembley Stadium, other than it being totally smothered in whiteness. Next Wednesday, in actual Wembley Stadium, there is apparently going to be a big international football match.

Good timing for me and Patrick Crozier, because we going to do another of our recorded conversations, this time about sport, this coming Tuesday. Patrick’s going to drop be at my place, and for first time in I don’t know how long we’ll be doing it face-to-face. However, we are going to use a newly acquired microphone, which Patrick fears may not work. So we’ll have to be careful we don’t say anything so clever that we regret not recording it properly, if that’s what happens. I’m sure we’ll be up to doing that.

The latest conversation with Patrick Crozier is now up

I only started deciding what to put here today quite late on. What should I say here today? Then, to rescue me, incoming from Patrick Crozier, telling me that our latest recorded conversation is now up, at Croziervision. Once again, we are to be heard worrying about what caused World War 1 to start.

I listened to an earlier discussion we had about WW1, which including how it started. So I tried to say some different things. But as I said just after we recorded this latest chat, no apologies for going over the same ground again. And only a bit of an apology for saying that again also.

22 dwarfs 42 (again)

Regular BMNB commenter Alastair James, noting my growing liking for 22 Bishopsgate, just sent me this photo, taken by him from Finsbury Circus:

That’s 22 Bishopsgate looming up behind Tower 42, the NatWest Tower that was.

It so happens I photoed this same Big Thing Alignment from pretty much the exact same direction, back in 2018, when 22 Bishopsgate was still being built:

Finsbury Circus is nearer to these Big Things than where I was when I photoed the above.

If you photo a Big Thing behind a not so big thing, the paradoxical effect can be that the Big Thing actually looks smaller, the nearer you are to it, because even a quite small thing makes its presence felt if it is in the foreground. Get away into the distance, and the bigness of the Big Thing becomes a lot clearer.

This effect is not particularly clear in the above photos, despite the difference in distance. But I did a posting on Samizdata, in which a church totally hides the Big Thing behind it. And that Big Thing was: The Shard.

Another Golden Gate photo

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.

Some surprises at the Royal Marsden today

Now that the weather is good and Lockdown seems to be easing, I am doing a lot more getting out, but am in a physical state where properly thoughtful blogging is hard to do on a day when I will be doing or have been doing much else. And today was very busy, by my standards. A complicated and prolonged visit to the bank. Then a haircut. Then a trip to the Marsden and the usual waiting around for blood tests, doctor consultation, and prescriptions. After all that I am no state to say very much here.

So I will content myself, and you, with this photo:

On the face of it, this is a photo of a Royal Marsden Hospital bannister. But that was the law of perfectly focused intervening objects asserting itself. What I was trying to photo was what is going on in the background. That’s right. Not just the Royal Marsden piano. A pianist playing the Royal Marsden piano. Chopin? Mozart? Sadly not. Generic improvised jazz, which is not my favourite. Even so, actual piano playing going on. Could it be that this is a regular occurrence, interrupted by Lockdown, but now resuming? Maybe.

I was going to end this there, but there were two other oddities at the Marsden today that I might as well mention, now that I have actually got started with this posting.

There was also this:

That being a photo taken by my Senior Designated Friend, who was with me at the Marsden today, now that they are getting more relaxed about such things.

What that is of is of an old grey-haired geezer who has presumably been up to no good, handcuffed to a police lady, in the Marsden Outpatients Department, presumably getting treatment. Despite the handcuffs, he seemed like a very well-behaved sort of a guy, but I guess cancer will do that to you.

I have never seen such a thing before in a hospital. That almost certainly being because the Marsden is the only hospital I have much experience of.

And finally, another Royal Marsden first, in the form of a less that totally obliging Marsden member of staff. This was the lady who was doing my blood tests. This hurt a bit more than usual. But worse, I got the distinct impression that she neglected to do the tests for the people doing research into the impact of Covid jabs on cancer patients, which I have been contributing to. I brought in some paperwork, but also mentioned this research, and that the usual routine was quite a large number of blood samples. That would usually mean the person I said such a thing to checking this out in some way, to see if more blood was indeed needed. But this lady just took the one sample and mumbled something about “I just do what I’m told” and the paperwork I brought in only said do one sample. That I said do several, and that I might be worrying about this, didn’t seem to bother her.

Later, we happened to ask the same lady how to get to the pharmacy, and for the very first time, I got directions from a Marsden worker that were hurried and unhelpful, and giving off a bit of a “don’t bother me now I’m busy” vibe. We had to ask someone else as well.

As I say, such has been the hitherto amazing level of Marsden staff helpfulness that these items of less than totally obliging patient service came as a surprise. I wonder if Lockdown easing has meant people coming in to work at the Marsden who are not totally indoctrinated into the Marsden Way, so to speak. Again, as with the visiting pianist, it could well be.

It’s not that the Marsden service is absolutely perfect. But what stands out for me about this place his how kind and patient the Marsden people (almost) all of them are with any difficulties that arise. So today, for instance, I had a rather longer wait for medical attention than has been usual, and I queried this at the desk. A medic then came out to tell me that they were waiting for some test results, hence the delay. This was not a brusque phone message to the desk. This was a full explanation and a courteous apology for the really quite short wait I was having to put up with. I’m guessing the delay getting those test results may have been something to do with the bank holiday weekend, which only ended today. Whatever, the point was they knew I was starting to fret and the medic went out of her way to put my mind at rest.

The test results, by the way, continue to be very good. My cancer continues to be in retreat in the face of the Osimertinib pills I have been taking. Although the side effects of these pills are starting to pile up, the pills are working spectacularly well. The doctors do not promise that these this will continue. Apparently the cancer could mutate, or something. But, so far so good. Wish me luck.

Compared to that, a somewhat brusque blood tester is hardly worth mentioning, and I only do mention this because, such is the overall standard of Marsden care for and kindness to patients, that it stuck out like a slightly dim bulb in an otherwise totally dazzling chandelier. In many a bog standard NHS place, such a person would fit right in.

Now I’m even more knackered. And tomorrow looks like it will be just as strenuous. I blame the perfect weather.