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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 right, 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.
Just over a year ago, in May of 2019, I was making my way from South Kensington Tube, up Exhibition Road past Imperial College, to the Royal College of Music, there to witness a performance which involved GodDaughter2. While making this journey, I encountered this strange creature:
I wonder what that was, I thought to myself from that moment on. Then, while rootling through the photo-archives, as I do, I encountered this taxi-with-advert photo, which seemed to feature the above creature:
Now I had some words to work with, so googling went from difficult to easy, and I began to learn about the One-Eyed Creature. He is one of the stars of a juvenile movie franchise, involving such things as One-Eyed Creatures, but also similar but Two-Eyed Creatures. Despicable Me. Also Despicable Me 2. At around that time, Despicable Me 3 was being plugged. Also there is a Bean Boozled connection, involving some sort of toy. Now that I know I could understand all this, I no longer feel any need actually to do this. How do I feel about having once cared? Despicable Me, that’s how.
I think a symptom of getting old is that you see more and more things that baffle you, and you don’t like the feeling. It’s not that we Oldies really do care about knowing trivia like this. What we care about is not knowing.
Soon after photoing this One-Eyed Creature, I photoed this couple:
I don’t feel quite so Despicable for being entertained by these two, but I still do somewhat. I found a few mentions of them on The Internet, in connection with Halloween. But this was May, so, no reason for them to be out and about in South Kensington. But then again, no reason for them not to be.
I just tried, for the first time, to make Zoom work. I wanted to hear what was said in a virtual meeting I had been invited to “attend”. But, I could hear nothing. I have no microphone, but I just wanted to hear what the others were saying. I could see various familiar faces yapping away, but could hear nothing. My speakers are working fine. (I now have music playing.)
Like all computer programmes, and there are no exceptions whatsoever to this rule – none, Zoom is trivially easy to make work if you know how to work it, and impossible if you do not.
Fucking computers. Trouble is, they know how to do a million things, so you have to be able tell them exactly which of those million things you want. If you fail to do this, which you often do because computers have zero common sense, you’re screwed.
There must a lot of this sort of crap going on just now.
LATER: There must be a lot of this sort of crap going on now because the time-honoured way to solve a problem like this is for a Zoom-savvy person to drop by and show me how to work it. Clunky, but the way to sort it. Except, that can’t now happen. The very problem Zoom was going to solve, not being able to have a proper meeting, is undeployable by me, because I can’t have a proper meeting to make Zoom work.
See what I said yesterday about how cities will never go away. Physical proximity is never going to stop being useful. Never.
Not the sort you do inside your brain; the sort you can see:
My photo walks tend to happen in the afternoon and early evening, after I have done morningy things at home. But today I took a quite long walk, quite early in the morning by my getting old standards, in order for the light to be coming from a different direction and thus to photo certain Things better. And of course everything looked a bit different, including the River, because light was bouncing into it and off of it in unfamiliar ways from Things that didn’t usually look like that. It helped that there was hardly a cloud to be seen anywhere in the sky.
When I first got a digital camera I couldn’t photo The Wheel enough. What a great Thing. But soon I realised that just photoing the Thing itself wasn’t good enough. You had to play photo-games with it in some way. Line it up with other Things, seen through it. Or reflect it, in a window for instance. Or water.
I like how the foreground foliage blots out any direct view of the Thing itself.
The above photo was just one of my favourites so far from today’s expedition. There were other nice photos also, but the above will suffice for now.
Anyone know what those two little golden crosses are, in the River? Image googling for “golden cross”, got me nowhere helpful.