Quota prophecy

Photoed by me last night, near Whitechapel tube station:

Well, it’s a point a view. And it makes a nice change from prophecies of climate doom.

Nevertheless, I am skeptical. I intend returning to this, once 2020 has come and gone. Prophets should be reminded about their prophecies, once their proclaimed deadlines have passed, and held to account in the court of public opinion.

And if this turns out to be right, then whoever said it should get the credit.

Herbert Sutcliffe with possum

Asked Cricinfo, a while back: Who has made the most runs in an Ashes Test only to end on the losing side? I love that kind of thing, so of course I went to find out who it was, and I encountered this charming photo of the answer:

The Ashes record is held by the England opener Herbert Sutcliffe, who scored 303 runs – 176 and 127 – in a seven-day Test in Melbourne in 1924-25.

According to this, the above photo first appeared in the Sydney Morning Herald on March 14th 1933.

Of Sutcliffe, Wikipedia, who picked out this same photo of him, says:

A right-handed batsman, Sutcliffe was noted for his concentration and determination, qualities which made him invaluable to his teams in adverse batting conditions; and he is remembered as one of the game’s finest “bad wicket batsmen”. His fame rests mainly in the great opening partnership he formed with Jack Hobbs for England between 1924 and 1930. He also formed notable opening partnerships at Yorkshire with Percy Holmes and, in his last few seasons, the young Len Hutton. During Sutcliffe’s career, Yorkshire won the County Championship 12 times. Sutcliffe played in 54 Test matches for England and on three occasions he toured Australia, where he enjoyed outstanding success.

What England wouldn’t now give for such a batsman.

London’s machines for living in are getting better

Le Corbusier famously described homes as machines for living in, and if this Property Reporter piece is anything to go by, it would seem that London’s machines for living in have been getting better lately:

Traditionally, period London property consistently outperformed new build in terms of desirability and price. However, times are changing and now there’s an emerging trend of buyers preferring new to old.

What this tells me is that the quality of the newest London homes has finally got better than the quality of older buildings from a hundred years ago and longer. The dark age of what can only be described as architectural incompetence, that the Modern Movement in Architecture unleashed by including so many very bad ideas about how to design things in its bran tub of ideas, looks like it may be over. In London, anyway.

This doesn’t mean that people love how the latest London “dwellings” look. They merely, given the choice between living in a picturesque building that works somewhat badly or an ugly lump of soulless modernity that works better, prefer the latter. Function trumps form. You want your life to work. If that means it looks a bit boring, so be it.

People never did hate actual functioning buildings; they merely hated “functionalism”. Sneer quotes there because “functionalism” tended not to function properly. “Functionalism” included too many bad ideas about how to design things, bad ideas like it’s: clever to turn your back on conventional designs for stuff. Housing modernity is now a bunch of design conventions that actually work, and which architects who wish to remain in employment now know not to turn their backs on. Despite many mere appearances to the contrary, architects in London are now very conformist in how they work, and that works much better.

The ideal arrangement, then, might be to have a brand new home – the very best and latest machine for living in – but for the outside of it to be old.

So this later bit in the Property Reporter piece especially interested me:

American buyers traditionally insisted on new build, but ironically they are now championing the old – but not the draughty, leaky version of old! Projects that leave the period façade in place, while replacing the rest with what amounts to brand new are top of the list for buyers from the USA.

You see a lot of this sort of thing being done in London, if you look out for it.

A sign with history lessons and with a map

On the 29th of last month I journeyed to Maze Hill railway station, walked north towards the river, just as I had planned, and in due course got to this spot:

I’m looking at signs. And I’m looking past the signs in the direction I intend to go. I love these signs that London has everywhere. And presumably also every great city in the rich world.

Let’s take a close look at the sign on the right in the above photo:

As you can perhaps see, this sign contains chunks of written information about places nearby. Chunks of the sort that I do not like to spend time reading direct from their signs, but which I do like to photo and then read later. Chunks like this:

So, the Isle of Dogs got its name from Henry III’s dogs, did it? Well, maybe. This is a fun maybe-fact, I think. Henry III was the one who had to escape the clutches of, and then execute, Roger Mortimer, Mortimer being the one who toppled Henry III’s Dad, Henry II. Henry II did badly. Henry III, at any rate by the standards that his subjects cared about, did very well, at least at first. What this means is that Henry II fought against his own nobles, in England. Henry III fought against the French, in France. Given how much pillaging and plundering and sheer destruction was involved in medieval warfare, in order to deny supplies to the enemy, Henry III’s wars were greatly preferred by the English.

I know what you’re thinking. Why not just not have any wars, anywhere? Ridiculous. What century are you living in? This one? There you go. No wonder you just don’t get it.

However the sign is now out of date on the subject of the tallest tower in Britain. That was indeed, once upon a time, One Canada Square. But the Shard has since, metaphorically speaking, toppled it. See here for details of that story. The soon-to-be-completed 22 Bishopsgate is already also a lot taller than One Canada Square.

However, I am puzzled about whether we are at Anchor Iron Wharf, as claimed by the sign on the left in the first photo in this posting, or on Ballast Quay. Many the former ends on the left with sign on the left, and the latter begins on the right with the sign on the right.

The right sign also contains a map, which is rather faded (what with it being a rather ancient sign), but this had the effect of throwing my intended journey into sharper relief:

This map even helpfully shows, with a thin dotted pink line, the very first part of my walk from Maze Hill station to the River. Having thus arrived at where it says YOU ARE HERE, my plan was to follow the thicker squiggly pink line north, beside the River, all the way around the north of the Dome, and then either go across the River on the Dangleway, or else just go home on the tube from North Greenwich.

And that’s what I did.

Please do not explain this T-shirt to me

Speaking of cats, as I just was – well, of one cat – here is another cat-related photo, of one of the many photoers I photoed ten years ago to-the-day yesterday:

Photoed at the north end of Westminster Bridge, with the trees of Parliament Square in the background.

I kept that one back for today. That T-shirt looks like she might even have made it herself.

Once again we see in action one of those ultra-cheap and ultra-cheerful digital cameras, of the sort that has now been pretty much completely swallowed by the mobile phone.

Surrey v Middlesex T20: Out of the sun in Bedser Upper

On July 23rd, Darren and I went to the Oval to watch Surrey lose to Middlesex. I photoed signs, and I photoed a drone, and that was about the half of it, if by that you mean about 0.5% of it.

As earlier noted, we got there with lots of time to spare and to spend taking in all the incidental sights and sounds of the Oval before the actual game got going. Which meant that when we reached our seats, the entire place (not just the place we were in) was nearly empty.

Darren had purchased seats for us in something called Bedser Upper, in honour of this Surrey legend. And the first thing we noticed when we reached our seats was how very cool it was, compared to how hot it might have been. We could see everything perfectly, yet we would be sheltered from the sun:

Remember, this was was the hottest day ever in London since the dawn of creation. 38 degrees centigrade, and a sure sign of Gaia’s Wrath To Come, to punish Sinful Man for burning too much petrol, gas, oil, etc., and for being too happy and comfortable and well off. Humanity used to be a bunch of slave labourers. Now it is a much vaster throng of, pretty much, sports fans with, compared to olden times, part-time jobs. And the sort of people who disapprove of that disapprove of it by talking about such things as how very hot it was, in London, on that day. And it was indeed very, very hot.

But, not quite so hot in Bedser Upper. Darren had chosen very well.

Later we realised that we were also sitting inside a giant loudspeaker, into which dementedly deafening pop music would be inserted for the duration of the game. Such is modern (very) limited overs cricket. But, we agreed that this was a price well worth paying, for the lack of extreme hotness.

I love the architecture of the Oval. (By which of course I mean the Kia Oval.) So much more interesting that some dreary built-all-at-once football stadium. The big sweep of that big new stand, with its big curved roof, on the left. The classical nobility of the ancient gasometer. The magnificently tall pavilion, on the right. And in the distance, occasional glimpses of the Big Things of central London. What a place.

And, just as divertingly, for me, before the game got started there were lots of interesting rituals being played out by a total of getting on for a hundred people. WIth other sports, a lot of this stuff is hidden away behind the scenes. But with cricket, if you get there early enough, you see it all. More about all that in further postings here about this wonderful night out, Real Soon Now.

A drone at the Oval – and what drones will replace

I took this photo at the Oval (sorry the Kia Oval), on July 23rd 2012, when I and Michael Jennings were watching England lose by an innings to South Africa:

All very regrettable. England lost all twenty wickets, but South Africa only lost two wickets. Hashim Amla got a treble century. Boo hoo.

But, take a close look at the rather odd stick-like thing sticking up over that big stand in the distance. Not the big flyswatter, which is for floodlights. No, I mean the rather insect-leg-like thing to its left, as we look.

This:

That’s a simple crop-and-expand of the first photo above.

Then as now, I was interested not just in cricket, as in: Is my team winning? (It was not (see above)). I also was already interested in the means by which cricket is televised or video-intenetted. I know this, because at about the same time I was photoing the above photo, I also photoed this photo:

Imagine spending your entire day, which on that particular day was a pretty hot day, doing that.

Okay. Now, fast forward to the Oval exactly seven years to-the-day later, July 23rd 2019, when Darren and I visited the Oval, to watch Surrey get beaten by Middlesex in a T20 game.

Once again, that my team was losing was very regrettable, but once again, I consoled myself by photoing other things besides the actual cricket, as already recounted in this earlier posting.

And the most interesting thing, by far, that I photoed that evening, was this:

I owe the spotting of this contraption, which hovered throughout the entire game over the same part of the ground as the 2012 crane-photoer did, to Darren’s sharper-than-my eyes, and to the fact that he reads this blog and knew that I would be interested. I would be amazed if I discovered that it was actually not videoing the game that Darren and I were watching, even if it was only panoramic views, for now.

It is surely only a matter of time before drones start being used to video games like the one I saw at Beckenham, where I also photoed video cameras.

And scaffolding. Drones don’t need scaffolding.

I’m guessing that the drone problem just now is keeping them absolutely still, or alternatively, moving them in exactly the required manner, the way crane-photoer has long been doing. But if humming birds can solve this problem, I presume that drones can, and that actually, somewhere, they already have.

Googling for drones-cricket etc. tells me that this is a technology that is bowling ahead, so to speak. For instance, it says here, in connection with the recently concluded Cricket World Cup, that:

The drone camera provided by Batcam will also provide stunning visuals of all venues across England and Wales.

“Batcam” link added.

So, as Darren suggested, it is quite probable that the TV picture in this posting was done by a drone, rather than by a bloke at the top of a crane.

Which means that the Big Alignment described in that posting (the Shard and the BT Tower) may have been no accident. Maybe the drone lined them up right next to each other on purpose.

Surrey v Middlesex T20: Signs and notices

Last night, good friend of mine and of this blog Darren arranged for me to go with him to a cricket match. Thanks a century by Middlesex captain Dawid Malan, Surrey were on the back foot throughout, and were beaten well before the official end.

Which is perhaps why I found myself enjoying all of the many incidentals of the game at least as much as I enjoyed the game itself. Even before I got inside the ground, I was taking photos of signs, many of them involving the names of Surrey greats of the past, familiar from the many hours of my childhood spent listening to cricket on the radio. Although, while I clearly recall Surridge, Lock, Laker, May and Stewart from those far off times, and while I know who Nat Sciver is and who Jack Hobbs (the gate) was, Tom Richardson (the plaque – never noticed that before) was way before my time:

All but the last three of those were photoed before the game had even begun. Darren says he likes to be there to “soak up the atmosphere”, and so we got there at 4.30 pm, for a 6.30 pm start. I had a great time photoing lots of things that you never normally see in regular cricket photos.

That “Welcome to the Kia Oval” sign I include to ram home that if you are anything officially connected to Surrey and you ever refer to the Kia Oval merely as “The Oval”, you will be savagely punished.

As you can see, the World Cup is still being remembered fondly, and smoking is forbidden throughout the ground, as are a bunch of other things, so you don’t feel tempted to throw them at the players. Or the umpires. Also no musical instruments.

The sign which says “4” on it means that someone has hit a 6, almost certainly Malan. That’s because spectators get given cards with 4 on one side and 6 on the other, to flaunt when someone hits a 4 or a 6, and my photoing was from the wrong side of the sign, so to speak. When someone hit a 4, that sign would say, to me, 6. At first I was puzzled at all the signs saying 6 when it was only 4. As you can maybe tell, this is the first T20 game I’ve ever actually been to.

The sign on a pole is to advertise the game at the Oval against Glamorgan tomorrow evening. Having now lost their first two games, Surrey need to start winning.

LATER: I missed this one!:

Next time I go the Oval, I’ll maybe do a complete photo-inventory of all the signs there that I can find. There have to be many more than I encountered yesterday.

Stephen Davies is writing a horse book

Much as I would like to replace the late Findlay Dunachie, I don’t think I’m cut out to be a book reviewer. It takes too much focus. While you’re doing it, you can’t afford to get stuck into reading anything else. When it comes to book blogging, blog postings provoked by some particular thing in a book is probably the best way for me to go.

But, I am trying to review The Wealth Explosion (you can read bits from this book here – here and here) by Stephen Davies, and I am determined to get this done, Real Soon Now.

Part of my homework for writing this review was attending an event at the IEA last week, at which Davies spoke about this book.

Which was fun, of course. But for me the biggest and best surprise came afterwards, when I asked Steve about his next book (about the Devil), and then if he was doing any more books after that Devil book. Yes, he replied. Two more. I forget the second of these two, but the first is going to be about the history of the horse.

That being my excuse for mentioning this today, Fridays being my day for cats and/or other creatures.

Historically, I surmise that the contribution of the horse in quite recent times, like the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, is a rather neglected subject. I remember reading how horses multiplied during the early decades of the railways, to get people and goods to and from railway stations. More recently, I read, I think in one of James Holland’s book’s (this one maybe?), how the Nazi war effort, for all its much touted mechanical virtuosity, was amazingly dependent upon literal horsepower.

I’m really looking forward to Steve Davies’s horse book. Given how much people love horses, now more than ever, it just might sell very well. Consider the success of this recent horse-based show.

(Something similar applies to how much people disapprove of – yet are fascinated by – the Devil.)

A World Cup Final that could not have been closer

If you don’t care about cricket, you won’t care about England having just won the World Cup. If you do care about cricket, you’ll not be paying any attention to me, here. But, in the years to come, I will. I need to have some links to this game, here, to wallow in, in the years to come.

The strange thing was, for two thirds of the game, NZ were grinding their way to a dreary win, by about 241 to, say, England all out 190. England, making a mess of chasing 242, were 90 for 4 and looking doomed. Worse, a generation of small boys watching it on free-to-air telly with their cricket mad dads would have been wondering what the hell all the fuss was about. Then the sun came out, and Jos Buttler came out to join Ben Stokes, and it then became a different game.

For once, that idiot cliché about cricket being the winner is true. Because this game was shown free on the telly, and because of how it got so crazily close at the end, who knows how many thousands of little kids will have got all excited about Stokes, Buttler, and the rest of them?

For the benefit of those learning about this game for the first time, a day late, England won by winning the cricket equivalent of a penalty shoot-out, after they had been all out for 241, chasing 242 to win. So, a tie. Then, to settle it and to work out who got the trophy, England got 15 in the “super-over” of six halls bowled by one of the opposition bowlers. NZ replied with 15, in their super-over. But England won it because they’d hit more boundaries throughout the day – 26-17, my telly has just told me – than New Zealand did.

Holy, as the man at Cricinfo said in amongst all this mayhem, Moly.

Will their be another patriotic orgy in Trafalgar Square to celebrate this? Along the lines of this:

(Those were photos I photoed in Trafalgar Square on September 13th 2005, in honour of another big England cricket win.) I really don’t see why not.

Also today, that Federer guy was involved in another rather close game, of tennis.

Did you know that these two games ended within minutes of one another? You do now.