Vauxhall station signs and Big Things

Two photos I took within moments of each other at Vauxhall Station, in January 2011:

I show you that one because I really like it. The Three-Eyed Elephant-and-Castle Tower looked particularly good when isolated, as it no longer is, and when framed by stuff in the foreground.

And then there’s this one, which does not score nearly so well for artistic effect, but which does show you that the Shard was then in the process of being constructed:

There the Shard is, or at any rate what they’d so far done of the concrete spine of it, on the left.

I can remember having friendly disagreements with Michael Jennings about whether they’d actually build that Thing, despite all their protestations that they would. I thought they’d build it, because I’m a pathological optimist. He doubted it, because he did. Because of that, the building will always have, for me, a slightly miraculous quality about it. Michael only had to have been a bit more right than he was (and we are talking about a man who is very right indeed about a lot of things), and like the Helter Skelter, the Shard might never have happened.

Looking towards Vauxhall

I really like this photo, with its excellent detail in unpromising light, with its only occasional bits of colour and its big grunge boat in the foreground, by which I mean forewater:

St Thomas’s Hospital on the left. Westminster Bridge. Parliament on the right, with half of the still heavily scaffolded Big Ben on the right. And in the distance, the towers of Vauxhall, but with Millbank Tower at the right hand end of the distant towers, that being on the north bank. I know all those well.

It’s the latest photo posted to Facebook by Michael Jennings. Michael often says of his photos of London that all they are is photos of London: Michael Jennings – in London, United Kingdom. But sometimes, as with this photo, he has a little more to say:

The cluster of buildings that is growing between Vauxhall and Battersea Park on the south of the Thames really is quite something.

This cluster being quite near to where I live, I can confirm that Michael is not wrong about the scale of what is going on over there.

I can’t tell from the info I looked at what camera Michael used for the above photo. Another case (see also: this) of an iPhone?

Shard earlier today

Photo taken by a friend earlier today, of the Shard from downstream:

Photoed with an iPhone 11. Pointed straight at the early afternoon sun. I’m impressed that the iPhone software managed to make so much of a distinction between on the one hand the Shard and its’s Guy’s Hospital smaller companion, and on the other the buildings in the foreground. Not sure my camera would have done so well.

In general, I love that blue-ish colour of the Shard and Guy’s. Again, don’t think mine would have managed this. I would have managed something, but it would have looked different.

What my friend saw when looking at this scene while photoing it was, I am sure, very different.

For all kinds of reasons, including the camera contrast but many others besides, my photos never seem to look quite like that. Strange that something so automatic should end up being so individual.

Shard rising

Allow me once again to flee the horrors of the casedemic that is now laying waste to my country, despite my earlier optimism about how sanity might prevail around now. Allow me instead to celebrate the construction of the Shard, which was in the process of happening exactly a decade ago:

The photo on the left there was photoed on October 13th 2010, and the one on the right exactly a decade ago on November 1st 2010. The location of the left hand photo explains itself. The one on the right was photoed in Hyde Park. This is not a place I often visit, but on that day I was with a visiting American lady who needed welcoming to London. The photo, as a photo, is nothing special. But better a bad photo of something interesting than a good photo of something boring.

Earlier that year, in August, I got luckier with the weather, and these two Shard-under-construction photos were photoed then:

The Shard was and is only starchitecture, but I like it.

Oscar yawns

My favourite cat, Oscar, is the cat housed and maintained by GodDaughter2’s family, down in the south of France. Search for Oscar on the left there, and you’ll encounter several other postings featuring Oscar, as well as postings that refer to such persons as Oscar Wilde.

Here, from GD2’s Dad, is the latest Oscar photo. This is him, yawning:

I like that. The lighting has gone a bit wrong at the top, but I don’t care about that and nor should you.

As I told GD2D earlier in the week, I meant to post this yesterday, Friday being my day for such postings, but yesterday was a bit fraught, what with life and everything happening, and I forgot.

Rules are important. Without rules, society descends into chaos and civilisation itself collapses. And we’d none of us want that, would we? So I do realise that putting a cat photo up on a Saturday is not good. But it’s Oscar, and if I were to wait until next Friday I might forget again, and I don’t want that. Best to get this done. That way, it’s done.

Learning how to photo my Last Friday of the Month meetings

Here’s a photo photoed years ago during one of my Last Friday of the Month meetings, at my home.

It took me quite a while, as in many years, to get that photo. What I wanted was what my meetings were like, but with no faces visible. Convivial, but with no conviviality being facially expressed. And it took me years to work out that the best way to get what I wanted was to stand on a chair and hold the camera up as high as I could, photoing lower limbs, but no faces, and photoing the kind of (decidedly junky) food that I serve.

It will definitely be quite a while before there are any more such meetings. Public moods can change radically, so never say never, but if the public mood concerning socialising remains at all like it is now, these meetings may already have seen their last. We shall see.

More generally, this is why photoing is a specialist activity, by which I mean that you have to work away at particular sorts of subjects before you get the hang of how best to photo them. I have photoed lots of digital photographers and have got quite good at it. I have not photoed many social groups.

You may say, well, given what you wanted – lots of youngish and casually attired bodies but no faces, a down-market style of hospitality – an aerial photo was the obvious answer. Well, yes, once I realised this, it was obvious. Once the obvious becomes obvious, it is indeed obvious.

A great deal of knowledge (all knowledge?), I believe, consists of that which is – has become – obvious. It’s just that it takes a while for the obvious to become obvious, for the penny, as they say, to drop. Many learning experiences have an element of Why-did-I-not-think-of-that-until-now? about them. Learning stuff need not lead to arrogance; it can lead to humility, as each step forward in knowledge proves how slow-witted you were to make it as slowly as you did.

Telephone pollsters can take a hike!

Bloomberg:

A new online study finds that Republicans and independents are twice as likely as Democrats to say they would not give their true opinion in a telephone poll question about their preference for president in the 2020 election. That raises the possibility that polls understate support for President Donald Trump.

The headline above this story refers to the “Shy Trump Voter”.

Were I an American right now, I would not be a “shy” Trump voter. I’d be a Trump voter. But if, before I voted, some telephone pollster with whom I was wholly unacquainted was foolish enough to ring me up and ask me to tell him how I’d be voting, I’d stop the attempted conversation right there, tell him “no, not doing this” and put the phone down. There’d be nothing shy about the way I said this.

I have a good friend who rings me up from time to time, asking me about how I view the political landscape. That’s entirely different. He’s a friend. I enjoy those conversations a lot.

But election polling done by strangers has always baffled me. Who the fuck do these people think they are? Why does anyone give them the time of day?

Indian accent man: “Hello, my name is Barry.” Not doing that either.

Presumably, I am already on some kind of pollster’s black list. “Oh, he’s one of the fuck-offs.” Because, I seldom get bothered by these inquisitive arseholes, wanting to take up my time, and me to bestow valuable information upon them, in exchange for nothing. I could presumably put them on some sort of phone black list of my own, but I can’t be bothered. Besides which, me confirming, every few months or years, my status as one of the fuck-offs, is one of my life’s many little pleasures. That opinion of mine, about them, I am very happy to bestow upon them.

How London is protecting itself against the threatened Second Wave of The Plague

A friend (the one whom I refer to here as GD2S) iPhone-photoed this photo two nights ago, in Soho, London:

The Plague is now over. The only thing London is now scared of is the damn “Temporary restrictions”. Who the hell knows how long those are going to last?

The public opinion graphs about The Plague are now crossing

A fortnight or so ago, GodDaughter2 and I discussed The Plague, and what a pain all the measures being taken against it were. Neither she nor any of her friends thought that The Plague itself was any problem. Nobody she knows at her place of higher education (the Royal College of Music) has actually died. But the protective measures being unleashed by the damn government are ruining all of their lives. Not only can they not get jobs as singers and musicians, they can’t even get jobs as waiters and waitresses in the meantime, because that’s all been shut down too. When, she asked me, would it end?

Trying to be reassuring, I heard myself saying to her that the tide of British public opinion was about to turn against Lockdown, on the grounds that not nearly enough people were dying, and that more and more people were, just like GD2 and all her musical friends, noticing this, and hence, if they needed persuading, being persuaded by people like this guy (who I was just then getting to grips with), that it was all bollocks.

I compared Lockdown with how smoking suddenly went from something you couldn’t complain about in polite society to something you couldn’t do in polite society. It’s a numbers thing. When the number goes from less people think Y than X to more people thing Y than X, then suddenly X ceases to count and Y becomes the new orthodoxy, at the single moment when the graphs cross. Suddenly. Blink of an eye. The impossible turns on the proverbial sixpence into the inevitable, to the amazement of those who’d not been paying close attention.

This snatch of video, lifted from Guido today, suggests to me that I’m right about what people are thinking about Lockdown, and that the graphs on what people think about Lockdown either are about to cross, or have actually crossed already. Politicians don’t talk like this Swayne guy just did unless they know something’s up:

I know, the chamber is nearly empty. But in the age of social media, all it needs is for someone to post the clip anyway, and up, up and away it goes, into Public Opinion land.

Talking of Ivor Cummins, as I just was, take a look also at what he says about Cornwall, which I did not know. In general, take a browse through his stuff. It’s not just what he says. It’s the confidence and clarity with which he says it.

To be clear, this is not one of those the-truth-lies-somewhere-between-the-two things. You either think that the government was and is roughly right, but maybe should have locked us all down sooner and more completely. Or you think that’s utter bollocks. Lockdown has either worked, but not well enough, or it has achieved bugger all besides huge collateral damage. There’s no position I can see in the middle on this thing.

The government will try to say that the continuing absence of Armageddon, which is what will be the next chapter in this story, proves that Lockdown has worked and is working. They’ve been marching down the High Street in weird robes and banging big drums to keep the elephant away, and look, no elephant! It’s working! It worked! No. There never was an elephant. A mouse, yes, maybe even a big old rat. But no elephant.

If The Plague is now everywhere, which is what the Government’s precious “testing” really serves to illustrate, but if hardly anyone is now dying from it, and if, now that The Plague has spread everywhere and now has nowhere to go and is fizzling out, then Lockdown accomplished and is accomplishing nothing, just killing or ruining or generally mucking about with lots more people.

I don’t see how Boris and his fellow Plague catastrophists can survive this, once the penny of public opinion drops, as dropping it now is. It wasn’t the original panic. That was forgivable. It was their pretence that they didn’t panic and their failure to apologise and to stop panicking that will be the end of these people.

When I spoke with her, GD2 also expressed the fear that if and when there is a real Plague, and if some actual experts of the sort who actually know what’s going on warn against it, such warnings may well be treated with contempt and be ignored, when they ought to be heeded. Good point.

Charles Dance in Goswell Road

Back in 2016, a friend was regularly working in the Angel area, and I would often meet up with her at the Angel Tube, there to repair to a local coffee and cakes parlour. When we parted, I would often walk towards the Big Things of the City, photoing as I went. The photo I photoed of “Tower 42” and 22 Bishopsgate in this posting, being an example of the kind of photo I would photo on this sort of walk.

But perhaps rather more intriguing was this:

What was a big picture of noted veteran Brit Thesp Charles Dance, under the word “TAPESTRY” doing, in this part of London? What did this mean? I’ve been intending to mention this for years, but have never got around to it.

Recently, I made a breakthrough, by noticing that in the top left corner of the photo, next to the No loading sign, there is information, of the sort I should have photoed directly and completely:

Tapestry, it would seem, is the sort of enterprise that does specialist printing of a sort that especially interests me. Things like big photos on vinyl sheets. Such things have increasingly made their presence felt in London in recent years, as I have often noted here. Who, for instance, makes images like this one? Probably not Tapestry. But that’s the industry that Tapestry is a part of.

Alas, Tapestry is (or was (for I do not know if it is still there)) either too busy, or too preoccupied with other more pressing matters to be bothered with having its own website. I guess with a business like this, where everything has to look just so but where there is so very much to go wrong, word of mouth is everything, and internet boosting is beside the point. Or maybe Tapestry is no more, along with any website it may once have had.

Nevertheless, the picture of Charles Dance is pretty much explained. This wasn’t a plug for Charles Dance, though presumably his permission was obtained. No. It was a plug for Tapestry, who did the picture of Charles Dance.

Is it still there now, I wonder? Memo to self: go back there again and find out. (Guess: Not.)