Poetic perfection in a reopening pub

Rebecca Day tweets:

I’ve spoken to regulars Chris and Jimmy. Jimmy hasn’t gone to bed after his night shift tarmacking the roads. He had a shower and came straight here. He described the taste of his first Carling as being like an ‘angel pissing on the tip of my tongue’.

In her original tweet, Rebecca Day put “p***ing” and “his” tongue, so I’ve restored what Jimmy said to its original state of perfection. You’re welcome.

One of the services this blog supplies to its regular readers is to pluck occasional pearls of perfection like that (or that (or that)) from the torrent of swine shit that is Twitter, or at any rate what Twitter seems to turn into for many people.

Civilised disagreement works better face-to-face (therefore cities have a future)

The present dose of Plague History we’re having has caused much pessimism concerning the future of big, densely packed cities. Being an enthusiast for big city architecture, especially the seriously big and eye-catching sort, I am now more than ever on the lookout for people saying things about why cities confer, and will continue to confer, an advantage upon all those who live and work in them.

So, I particularly noticed this Bo Winegard tweet, when I encountered just now:

It depresses me how quickly a person on twitter can go from disagreeing with you to cursing and insulting you. Strikes me that there’s probably an evolutionary mismatch because almost all of our interactions were face-to-face. People are much nicer when they have to look at you.

I think that captures a key advantage of face-to-face communication, which is that it makes it more likely that those face-to-face communicating are that bit more likely to do it like ladies and gentlemen rather that like loutesses and louts.

I think people on twitter shout, so to speak, partly because they can. But also, maybe, because they feel they have to, to get their point across. If you do one of those oh-so-gently meaningful and very politely phrased criticisms, on Twitter, or for that matter during a conference-at-a-distance, you are liable to fear that your point will get lost. Your iron fist will be completely smothered by the velvet gloves you chose to wear. Face-to-face, you can literally see and hear and feel your point getting across. Or not, in which case you can politely rephrase it.

Being able to disagree in a civilised manner, in a way that doesn’t leave lasting scars or permanent feuds, is fundamental to the successful functioning of any organisation.

My dad was a barrister, in American: a trial lawyer. British barristers are always careful to call each other “my learned friend”, and the more fiercely they are quarrelling, the more they are careful to scatter these words upon all the insults they trade. That always used to amuse me, when my dad talked about it. But an important point was embodied in such drollery, not least because dad often spelled it out explicitly. When arguing, be polite. The more fiercely you argue, the more important politeness becomes. Twitter seems to make that harder. Face-to-face communication makes it easier.

So, cities will survive. Face-to-face communication is now one of their core purposes.

A tube line that never was

From the ianVisits Unbuilt London category, this never built figure of eight tube line:

Eight? More like the Infinity Line.

And actually not a bad idea. It would have connected all the big London mainline stations.

I remember a time when I was constantly trying to get from Victoria to Waterloo. Can’t recall why, but I was. Very annoying, for such a short distance. This says 6 minutes, if you change at Westminster Tube. Fantasy. Often I just walked.

But guess what. Victoria-Waterloo would have remained a nightmare on the Infinity Line, taking you either via Kensington and Paddington or via Kings Cross and Liverpool Street. Which is why the name would have stuck.

Some well written advice about how to write well

At 6k:

I sort of knew this. I now know it better. I might buy this book. I now need a longer sentence, one that drives the point home a bit, but not too much, because after all I didn’t think of this, I just nicked it.

LATER (also from 6k): Plummenausfahrtwunderschein. In Germany, if you want to drive your point home really hard, you don’t construct a long sentence. You construct a long word.

Maintenance issues should now be sorted

Any person who have had anything to do with IT (aka everybody) knows, when IT work is being done (even something as humble as doing some rearranging of a little blog like this one), that the word “should” can cover a multitude of unforeseen disruptions. So, maybe the little round of maintenance issues that Michael was dealing with over the weekend and then again this morning (he refers to them in comment 4 here) have, in reality, not yet been entirely sorted. But Michael and I both believe we have good reason to hope that, now, they have been.

One thing that you may have suffered from is that if you clicked on a link from a posting here to another posting here you may, depending on when you did this, have been told “about: blank”, instead of getting to the linked posting. This was caused by the fact that this blog was being migrated (to somewhere cheaper) but migrated before its name had been migrated. It changed its name from “brianmicklethwaitsnewblog” to “3.8.5.22”, and helpfully changed all the links from here to somewhere else here accordingly. It had then to be persuaded that its name was still brianmicklethwaitsnewblog. Which it now has been. As in: should have been.

Other strange things happened this morning, but they too have stopped, and so, touch wood and hope to die, all should now be well. If all from where you sit seems not to be well, please comment to that effect. (That’s assuming the comments system is itself working. Follow the above link and you’ll learn of three lost comments from last night.)

What I’m basically saying is: Sorry if you’ve been mucked about, but with any luck it should have stopped now.

Some customer feedback

Recently seen on Facebook, with that little “world” thingy at the top, which (I think) means he doesn’t care who reads it, beyond his circle of Facebook regulars:

I have had a problem with the hosting of the domain that my Gmail account is linked to with the result that it couldn’t receive email for several days. During that time I had to spend a ridiculous amount of time online and on the telephone sorting out something that wasn’t my fault. Suffice it to say that I am very impressed with the customer service of DiscountDomain24 (German company out of Saarbrucken) and I am really not impressed with Google’s. For those not familiar with Britspeak “really not impressed” means “I think their customer service stinks like a month old corpse in a pile of steaming shit”. Still, all working now.

Living on my own, I don’t get the twenty first century explained to me on a daily basis, so still cannot tell whether I am breaking some sort of Facebook rule. Can a friend who maybe recognises the above perhaps comment here? I mean, I was able to link to this, but can anyone? If they can, should I be telling them?

Here’s the link. I can get there. But can you? And should you?

Some or all of this may in due course disappear, depending on what anyone tells me about Facebook and its rules.

Picadil Circus

I did not know this, from a massive thread about the London Underground, done by a lady called Antonia:

In 1612 a man named Robert Baker built a mansion house just to the north of Piccadilly Circus.

He became wealthy from selling Picadils, stiff collars worn by the fashionable gents in court.

He called his mansion Picadil Hall, and the name Piccadilly stuck.

She should surely have said “north of what is now” Piccadilly Circus. But pedantry aside, good to know. And no wonder we’re all confused about how the hell to spell Pic(c)dil(l)y. The name got started at a time when they never knew things like that in the first place.

This is from one of those Twitter “threads” that ought to be a blog posting, but isn’t, because it doesn’t make sense to stop using Twitter just because you feel an essay coming on. (I think very short blog postings work fine, whereas great piles of tweets are often a dismembered mess. This one’s okay, though, because each tweet is a distinct bit of information.)

When she said “mansion house” I thought it was going to be Mansion House she was explaining, even though that’s not, I now realise, where Mansion House (Tube) is.

So this blog has now done Piccadilly Circus, and before that, Horseferry Road. I’m not now going to start looking for these explanations of funny London names. But when I bump into another, I’ll try to remember to notice it here.

I bumped into this one because a bloke whose photos I like retweeted the thread in his feed.

Unicorn island

According to this January report, this has just begun being built, in Chengdu, China:

This great agglomeration of Things was designed by Patrik Schumacher, for Zaha Hadid Architects. (Although maybe that just means that Schumacher was in charge of all the people who actually designed it. I genuinely don’t know about that, i.e. what “designed by” means in a context like this.)

It will be most interesting to see how the relationship between ZHA and China develops in the next few years. Will the above weirdness ever get finished in the above form? I rather doubt it, somehow.

Meanwhile I note with approval that ZHA have managed to make designboom refer to them as ZHA rather than zha, despite designboom’s capital letters phobia (“patrik schumacher”, etc.). There should be a campaign to start calling designboom dESIGN bOOM.

Taxis with adverts – July to December 2019

I know I know. There’s only one person in the whole world who likes clicking through huge collections of photos of London taxis with adverts on them. Me. But such galleries of persuasive transport are now easy for me to put up here, and have always been easy for you to ignore, so here’s another, consisting of fifty-four taxis-with-adverts photoed by me in the latter half of last year:

Photo 49, bottom row, number four, features Ms Calzedonia, a shapely lady with writing on her legs. But even my original 4000×3000 photo did not enable me to discern what this writing says and my googling also proved insufficient. Anyone?

Also puzzling, merely from my photo number 40, is “Duolingo”, but this was easy to learn about, and pretty easy to guess. It’s for learning a new language.