Progress and the personal touch

The two photos below, taken at Chateau Michael Jennings, remind me yet again how valuable personal face-to-face contact is in an age of radically progressing technology. The irony being that a lot of the technology that is now progressing most radically is all about making such personal face-to-face contact less necessary. But the more such technology progresses, the more valuable it is to be sitting right next to someone who knows how to get the best out of it, and can watch you failing to do that and can correct you. What’s that you say? Zoom? Two problems for me there. One, my regular C20 computer has no camera pointing at me. Plus, I tried to get Zoom going with just the sound, for a meeting, but the damn sound didn’t work. I’ll only get Zoom going when someone clever pops by and helps me do it.

These photos were taken somewhat over a year ago, when Michael was still regularly tweaking this blog, this posting being the one on the screens. They illustrate one of the improvements of this blog over the old blog, which is that (be warned) the old blog didn’t work nearly so well on mobiles or tablets. This one works much better on such modernistical contrivances:

Another friend is due round soon to help me with get the best out of my new Dyson Graven Image, before Winter arrives. I probably could get this working okay by reading the damn instructions. But, personal face-to-face guidance from someone who already knows will work far better.

Getting old but also getting better

About a fortnight ago now, I suddenly started feeling pains in my lower back and stomach. They kind of meandered around, but centred on a spot just above my right buttock. After a few days of this not getting any better, I rang my GP – well, my “Medical Centre” – and described my symptoms to a receptionist. She promised that a doctor would ring back around midday, and when a doctor duly rang back and I again described my symptoms, he said, can you come in and see me in half a hour? Bending down to pick things up was very painful, but standing upright and merely walking I could do. So, I walked over to the Medical Centre, and within a few hours of my first call, I got the verdict. (There are lots of complaints doing the rounds now about how the NHS has been bent out of shape by the Plague, but for me, when it came to the NHS at least paying attention to me and my discomforts rather than just telling me to come back in a couple of months time, it seemed to be working pretty well. Maybe it was the hint of a possible emergency about my symptoms that got their interest.)

So anyway, yes, the doctor duly examined me and bent my legs around and checked how it felt. Doctor stuff. And his verdict was: Nothing serious. Just a strained muscle. Me: How soon will it stop hurting? A week? Doctor: A bit more than that I’m afraid.

Basically what he was saying was: It’s nothing serious. You’ll get better soon. Not as soon as you would like, but soon.

For the next few days, the pain continued, and I put up with it as best I could and as I had to, learning new skills for moving myself up and down by the use of my still fully functioning arms. Getting out of bed and into an upright position when I got up in the morning was the trickiest and most painful manoeuvre. Anything which required my stomach to exert itself, like putting on trousers or shoes, was hurtful. Getting up out of a chair meant pushing myself up with my hands and arms. I adapted.

But then, right on time and as if hypnotised by the doctor, my body checked the calendar, noted that the ordained time of somewhat more than a week had now elapsed, and I started getting better. Yesterday was painful. Today, it was just a dull and diminishing ache. This afternoon, I went out shopping in Tottenham Court Road. I did things like sit down in a tube train, get up out of a seat in the tube train, walk briskly along Tottenham Court Road. No problems. The worst thing was that it was raining, and the few photos I took were rather gloomy and blurry. Also, the tube train back was too hot, which doesn’t go well with being a bit damp when you get into it.

The relief I felt at this moderate but definite improvement in my bodily circumstances was considerable. When you are young and you get an illness or injury, the only question is: When will it stop? That it will stop and that you’ll soon be back and firing on all cylinders is not in doubt. But when I started recovering today, I realised that I had been semi-fearing that … this was it. This, the pain I had gone to see the doctor about, was what living inside my body was going to feel like from now on. The only thing that would change this would be when things took another turn for the even worse. That is what, in a dull, getting old sort of way, I had been fearing. I wasn’t caste down into utter gloom. After all, you expect this sort of thing as you age, and so far in my life I’ve been very lucky with such things. But, I had feared that this episode would go far worse than it now seems to be going, that is, that having gone rather bad it would stay rather bad from then on, until such time as it got even worse. What if the doctor had been sparing me the worst about how it could all go? What if he was simply wrong? But it now seems that not only was his speed in seeing me very speedy; he also judged my condition accurately.

And the relief I’ve been feeling today, also in a dull, getting old sort of way, has been, as I say, considerable.

Greenwich cat

So, what with Fridays being my day for cats and other creatures, did Alastair and I encounter any cats, or other creatures, on our wanderings yesterday?

Well, there was this cat:

As you can see, I did a bit of a photo session with this cat. He/she was utterly unmoved, literally. Right next to the pavement, but not scared and not interested.

From which I conclude that this particular part of London is one of those keep-themselves-to-themselves sort of places. Nice but quiet. Not a lot of socialising in the street but nothing to frighten the humans, or the cats. If you’re a cat, humans tend to leave you be, but are not a threat.

I know, it’s very anecdotal. Maybe he/she was just getting old.

My neighbourhood – not that bad after all

Well I was in a grumpy mood the other day, calling my part of London boring. Today, after a bit of an absence from it, indoors, I visited my neighbourhood again, and found myself, eventually, to be in a much sunnier mood than I was when I did that earlier posting.

This was partly because the weather was much sunnier, and partly because my expedition began with a deeply annoying visit to a rather unfamiliar branch (which I hate) of my bank, which involved, first, pressing lots of stupid buttons on a damn machine which ended up failing to do what was asked of it, which meant that what I wanted ended up having to be done by hand, so to speak, by a bank employee behind a grill, but not before I had had to wait in a queue right behind a crazy person who was walking backwards and forwards along the line of the queue with no concern for social distancing. Sadly, he was just the sort of person you’d be concerned about, social distancing-wise, whether there was a plague happening or not. Retreating away from him at first didn’t work because he simply advanced further until standing inches away from me, before turning round and walking back to the person ahead of him in the queue and annoying her in a similar way. Eventually I just stood way off the line of his backwards-and-forwards pacing, hoping that he would stick to his straight line, which mercifully he did. I know this sounds cruel, but I didn’t say any of this to him at the time, and now I am just blowing off steam about it all. Anyway, he finally did his business (emptying a bank account of its last few pounds from what I heard (I bet they were glad to see the back of him too)) and he then left and I was then able to do all of my business. This took its time. The bank had “closed” at 2pm, just after I got there, but I didn’t get out until about half past.

The point of all that being that there is nothing like enduring an ordeal like this one, but then have it come to an end with all your purposes achieved, to put you in a good mood. And the photos I then photoed out in Victoria Street reflected my good mood, as well as involving reflections of the towers of Victoria Street in other towers of Victoria Street. Of the photos below, only the first one, of scaffolding angrily illuminated by the sun, which I could hardly ignore, were photoed before my ordeal by personal banking, and I actually think it shows:

The new towers of Victoria Street, on the north eastern side, from the Albert pub up to Victoria Station at the top end of the street, are an aesthetic shambles. I wouldn’t object if this shambles was the result of a complete indifference to “architecture” and pure concentration on having machines for working in. That would almost certainly have been highly picturesque, and aesthetically very well coordinated. But, these towers have all been architected as all hell, but each one with absolutely no thought to its neighbours, other than to get more architectural awards than the buildings by those other bastards. Each is shaped in the “iconic” style, but each iconic shape is utterly difference. The result is a total mess. (I am even now thinking of a posting about why it makes sense for modern architecture to be ugly (basically ugly architecture doesn’t suffer the nightmare of a preservation order being slapped upon it), but that’s for later.)

However, when I photoed this lumbering heard of miss-matched lumps today, such was the weather and such was my mood that even these things came out looking beautiful. Or, I think they did. The first one, the pointy one (62 Buckingham Gate) differs from the others in showing, I think, some real architectural distinction. But this can’t save the shambles that is Victoria Street now. The one thing that could savee Victoria Street now would be a huge fuck-off skyscraper, on top, say, of Victoria Station. (This would rescue Victoria Street in much the same way that the Shard rescues Guy’s Hospital.)

But that also is for that other posting about why ugly buildings are more advantageous than beautiful ones.

In the meantime, note the lorry with foundation reinforcements on it. The only reason you drive a lorry through the middle of London with foundation reinforcements on it is because you want to unload those reinforcements in London, so that some new foundations in London, perhaps for a big fuck-off skyscraper, can be contrived. So, what that lorry tells me is that London is still building biggish things. When I saw it, my mood became even sunnier.

I ended my wanderings with yet another view of Pavlova (she is also to be seen dancing up above the reinforcements lorry) in front of a crane, and a view of the flowers outside the front door of a pub in Wilton Road. And then I went home, tired but happy.

As you can tell, I then started thinking about those Victoria Street buildings and got angry again, but that was only later. Besides which, I also quite enjoyed that.

Photoer five years ago today

Indeed:

So much of the fun I have got photoing my fellow photoers is noting the physical contortions to indulge in they get their cameras just where they want them. This guy is standing naturally, but he needs his camera to be lower. He has no twiddly screen which he always uses, they way I do. So, not only must his camera be lower. So must he, his head in particular. At first, his stance for accomplishing this is ungainly. But then, he makes use of the steps, and he regains his gainliness.

To quote myself in this posting from a bit before the above photos happened, in 2014:

As I’ve said several times before, someone should do a ballet based on digital photoers.

ISIBAISIA. Saying “I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again” is a symptom of advancing years. Another symptom of advancing years is thinking of getting out and about in the nice weather, but then instead just staying in and having a lie-down. Which is what I did today. By the time I got vertical again, it was getting dark.

Behind the photoer, Southwark Bridge.

On how I may now not resume buying classical music magazines

Every month for as long as I can remember, I’ve been buying paper copies of Gramophone and the BBC Music Magazine, “Music” being how the BBC refers to classical music.

All over my home, these magazines have accumulated in shelves and in heaps:

I haven’t had these magazines on order, because I don’t trust my neighbours not to let in burglars through the front door we all share, and because I like the exercise of actually walking to a shop and buying these magazines.

Which means that during the recent Plague, I’ve not been getting either of these magazines. The shops where I would have bought them have all been closed.

One of the many changes I am now contemplating in my life is: Not resuming buying these magazines. Are many people now contemplating a similar decision with regard to these or other such printed publications? Surely, they are. Are many people contemplating buying printed publications they do not now buy? I doubt this very much.

If “normal” ever returns, it will, for most of us, in big ways and in small ways, be a different normal, not least among those who publish the magazines like the ones in my photo. It’s not just the obvious ways in which we will remain nervous of the Plague returning, though that will definitely happen also. It’s that by being jolted into doing this for the first time, and not doing that any more, we are all now shedding old habits and being pushed towards acquiring different habits. I try to resist generalisations involving words like “we all now …”, but I really do think that the above generalisations are largely right. (You need only look at the recent numbers for postings here per month at this blog, on the left, to see this kind of thing happening to me and maybe therefore also for you.)

So, habits are being dropped, and acquired. And, are you, like me, and provoked by the above experiences, going beneath and beyond such changes of habit, and asking yourself: What other habits should I now decide to shed, and decide to acquire?

After all, and especially for the likes of me, life has just got shorter.

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.

Two black swans in Regents Park

I believe it’s a symptom of getting old that I become less apologetic about being sentimental about animals. And birds. And especially birds who evidently have something a lot like a romantic relationship. Like these two, for instance.

Or, these two:

I encountered these two love-birds in Regents Park, in April 2005. This being after I had descending from Primrose Hill, where I had been photoing the Big Things of central London, from a great distance, with a camera that needed to be a lot better. At the time, it was the Big Thing photos that continued to interest me, and not these birds at all, until now. And while I was photoing them, I was probably just as interested in how that fence was reflected in the water as I was in the birds.

Just as there is confusion about whether the two birds by the river, linked to above in this, were ducks or geese, so too, these “swans” would appear really to be geese, approximately speaking. And according to this piece, geese can live for as much as twenty years. So, this Evening Standard piece dated January 2013, also about a pair of black swans in Regents Park, is probably about the couple I photoed.

If so, it seems that the birds I photoed split up, were then reunited, and then ended as a couple when the lady black swan got killed by a fox. Foxes eh? Cute, but no respect for bird rights.

It turned out nice in Stoke Newington

The way I see it, I can do an elaborate photo-expedition, which I did today. Or, I can do an elaborate description of some of the things I saw during my photo-expedition. But don’t ask me to do both on the same day. (See this category.)

So instead of an elaborate description of anything, here are two contrastingly lit and contrastingly backgrounded buildings, which I photoed at the very beginning of my wanderings, in the Stoke Newington area:

On the left, well, I don’t know what they call it, but I like it, because I like any building that is brightly lit, with a dark cloud background behind it, and lots of excellent roof clutter on top of it.

And on the left, the building that is now the Castle Climbing Centre. This time, the background is blue. The dark cloud was the bad weather of the morning and early afternoon, which was departing. The blue sky was the good weather that had just arrived, perfectly in time to illuminate my subsequent wanderings.

Which were fascinating, but exhausting. Sleep well, when the time comes for you to do that. I will, very soon.