Today I forced myself out, to post a letter which had to be posted, something I don’t think I’ve done in years.
My guess as to where there was a posting box, or whatever they are called, took me to the nearest post office that I am aware of, via Vincent Square, which I hoped would be looking good in the sunshine. It was:
That building is Vincent House, which sounds and looks like it might be important, but it’s just a block of flats.
And this is the middle of Vincent Square:
In earlier times, on a day like this, I would have gone a-wandering and a-photoing, but now, I’m afraid I feel the cold, and although delightfully sunny it was still cold. Also, all walks now take twice as long. So I posted that letter, and also did some shopping and then went straight back home. Shopping being another thing that has had to change recently. Big and occasionally has had to be replaced by less but more frequently, because there are limits to how much stuff I can now carry in anything resembling comfort, especially up my stairs.
Just before I went on this expedition, I got a phone call from one of the Marsden exercise experts. Apparently exercise is good for you. But he would say that, wouldn’t he?
For the last few weeks, a strange glitch has been afflicting this blog, involving spacing. If I stick up just the one photo, stretching all the way across the width of the blog’s column of text, all is well. But if I stick up a gallery of photos, which is something I very much like doing, there has been a problem. Too much space was suddenly, ever since a recent software update or some such thing, created below the gallery. Any attempt I made to remove this space only resulted in further spatial havoc below, in the form of too much space between subsequent paragraphs of text.
But now, either because the guardians of this software have sorted this out, or because the technical curator of this blog, Michael Jennings, has sorted this out, things are back to how they were. Good. Very good. I attach great importance to how this blog looks. If it looks wrong, I hate that. It demoralises me and makes me want to ignore the damn thing rather than keep on updating it the way I actually do. This was especially so given that galleries look so very good when they are working properly.
Well, as I say, things have now reverted to their previous state of visual just-so-ness. And I will now celebrate, with yet another gallery:
The above gallery, however, is not a gallery of my photos, but rather a gallery of photos photoed by Michael Jennings, all, I believe, with his mobile phone. Not having got out much lately, I have found the photos Michael has photoed while taking exercise, and then stuck up on Facebook, reminding me of how my beloved London has been looking, to be a great source of comfort during the last few months. And I actually like photoing in his part of London more than I do in my own part. This may just be familiarity breeding something like contempt, but is still a definite thing with me.
I started out having in mind to pick just four photos, which makes a convenient gallery. Then I thought, make it nine. I ended up with twenty four. It would have been twenty five (also a convenient number), except that one of the ones I chose was a different shape, which might have complicated things, so I scrubbed that one from the gallery.
But you can still look at that one. Because none of this means that you need be confined only to my particular favourites. Go here and keep on right clicking to see all of them.
I have displayed my picks here in chronological order, the first of the above photos having been photoed in October of last year. The final photo (which is what you get to if you follow the second link in the previous paragraph), of the church, which I learned of today, and which is the only one done outside London, is something of a celebration, of the fact that Michael is now able to travel outside London without breaking any rules, or such is my understanding. (Plus, I like those unnatural trees (see also photo number 9)).
Patrick Crozier, the man I do recorded conversations with (see the previous post), is a particular fan of Viscount Alanbrooke, Churchill’s long suffering chief military adviser during WW2. So he’ll like that this church is where Alanbrooke is buried.
I am awaiting warmer weather, in the hope that I will then feel up to taking a photo-walkabout, somewhere in London town.
Meanwhile here are some photos from a walkabout I did, walking (about) from the Angel Tube to the Barbican, as late sunshine was replaced by early moonshine, back in April of 2016:
The final photo there is of how a stretch of Oxford Circus Tube was looking on that day.
The lady seen smiling through a window of reflections (photo 10) is the then only very recently (March 31st 2016) deceased Zaha Hadid (as you can maybe guess from photo 11). This was the lady whose buildings only had straight lines in them at all because people will insist that the floors they walk about on and work on are mostly flat rather than curving up and down. Clients eh? Philistines the lot of them. ZHA has (or had in 2016) a building in Goswell Road, and I walked right past it that day, and also had a nose around in it. I remember being surprised, because I had no idea this place even existed.
See also the photo of another portrait picture, this time of actor Charles Dance, which I photoed on this very same walkabout.
What’s going on in this photo is that I was recently standing on a pavement in the South Kensington area, photoing a fake person who is wearing a real jacket with a tiger’s face on the back of it, but it’s a bit hard to make out the tiger’s face because some buildings across the road, very well lit by the bright sunshine that day are simultaneously being reflected by the window that separates me from the fake man and his tiger jacker:
I really like this photo. It resembles this earlier effort in being a puzzle caused by the reflection in a shop window colliding with what is behind the shop window and in the shop itself. But unlike that earlier photo, this one is a puzzle that is soluble, and one that I can fully explain.
As I have earlier said, I think that one of the features of architectural modernity is that there is now lots of shininess, and consequently lots of reflection going on. Modernity didn’t start out so shiny, because there was lots of concrete and brickwork to start with, and glass was a lot less marvellous then than it is now. But now, architectural modernity has got very shiny indeed. So, scenes like that shown in my photo above are not mere accidents. They capture something basic about the visual experience of living in a modern city. Such images are or a thing that we constantly see, and perhaps even a thing that you constantly notice. I don’t think it’s just me, in fact I know it isn’t.
In the bottom right hand corner of the photo above, part of a parked vehicle is to be observed. Modern vehicles being another characteristic source of modernistic shininess.
Yesterday, I did some shopping, and on my way back turned into Vincent Square, basically just to get away from the din of Vauxhall Bridge Road.
And I saw trees, resplendent in the evening sunshine, and in their total lack of leaves to spoil the splendour:
Photo 1 shows the bigger picture, and also what my Samsung Galaxy mobile phone does to vertical lines if you let it. Basically it can’t handle wide open spaces very well. Photo 2 and I’m looking at the branches of the trees rather more closely.
Photo 3 has me flying off at a tangent and bringing back memories of the time when I used to photo all manner of things reflected in car windows.
But then, in Photo 4, we see me noticing the, to me, really strange thing about these trees, which is the way they look the way they do entirely because men with saws decided that this was how they were going to look. Once you see these weirdly shaped branches, ziggy-zagging this way and that, for no apparent reason, yet surely for good reasons, you never look at a tree the same way again. I mean, look at that branch, in the middle there. Whose idea was that? And why?
Sometimes pollarding is rather obvious, once you’ve got your head around the fact of it. But what we are seeing here is so weird, I don’t know if the word pollarding still applies.
I did quite a bit of writing today, but none of it for here, today. So, quota photo time, and again, it’s photoed in the well-lit dark with my Samsung Galaxy A40 mobile phone. I don’t know if gas work is what is happening, but that’s my bet, and if that’s right there is a lot of it about. I’m guessing they don’t like big rearrangements of the gas pipes when it’s freezing cold, as it was a week or two ago, but they want to get anything they want done done, before lockdown ends. And I further guess that this, at the junction of Warwick Way and Tachbrook Street was part of it:
I’ve been seeing gas work everywhere, like in Vauxhall Bridge Road. And are those smaller orange pipes also for gas. Guess: yes. (LAGER: No. See my comment.)
While wondering what verbiage to attach to the above photo, which I like simply for artistic effect and because of that sign about social distancing, I came upon this photo I photoed quite a bit earlier, at a spot I often shop at, where Horseferry Road does its big kink, where I often do very local shopping, and where I get my hair cut:
That’s definitely gas they’re working on there, because it says so. And it also goes on about social distancing, which at least fits with the social distancing sign in the first photo.
These annoying signs are becoming my most vivid recollection of lockdown, and it’s gone on for so damn long I can still photo more of them whenever I see them, as I surely will for quite a while.
Here are two more photos photoed with my Samsung Galaxy Something mobile phone:
I came upon these pens while seeking something else, as you do. I then took these photos because what I was seeing reminded me of a conversation I recently had with Michael Jennings about why the cameras in things like my Samsung Galaxy Something mobile phone are so good. He said that when you are ordering up the cameras for a production run of mobile phones like mine, or for an iPhone or some such thing (Michael J has the latest iPhone (with which he now takes photos like these)) you’re talking about ordering a billion of the things, literally. When you are working on that sort of scale, then the economies of scale really start to kick in. A camera which would have cost five times what the mere phone costs now, if you sold it only to photographers, now costs only a dozen or two quid for my phone, or a couple of hundred for the latest iPhone. He’s not wrong.
Research and development for dedicated cameras has pretty much stopped about five years ago. All the effort now goes into making mobile phone cameras into miracle machines, and that’s really starting to be visible in the results.
I remember thinking, when digital cameras first arrived, that in the long run, cameras would have no reason to look like old school cameras, of the sort that had film in them. But at first they all did, because that was what people felt comfortable with. But now, that long run is starting to arrive. Cameras now consist only of a screen, and what is more a screen that can do a hundred other things besides photo photos.
And the above photos illustrate this same economies-of-scale which can fund mega-research-into-making-them-even-cheaper principle in action down at the bottom of the market, where they thrash out ball point pens by the billion. One pound for a dozen of them! Like I say in the title of this, that’s hardly more than eight pence a pen. And that’s after all the transport costs and retail mark-ups and goodness knows what else have also been paid. Amazing.
Shame they can’t make food and heating and rent that cheap. The one thing that never seems to get any cheaper nowadays is energy, aka the essentials of life. Are we due another human transformation, to go beside this one, when energy gets miraculously cheaper? Nuclear? Fusion? Bring it on.
That previous kink, I recently read in one of Anton Howes‘s pieces, was maybe made to seem more abrupt than it really was by the fact that there came a moment when they finally worked out how to extract and distribute energy on a serious scale, but energy remained quite expensive, hence the sudden kink upwards in the numbers. Actually, life had been getting better for some time, and didn’t suddenly get a hundred times better, merely about three or four times times every few decades.
Meanwhile, things like absurdly good cameras and absurdly cheap ball point pens don’t show up in graphs of how much mere money everyone is chucking around. Which causes people in a country like mine to underestimate the improvements of recent decades. These have not taken the form of us all having tons more money. No. What has been changing is the stuff we can now buy with the same money. Like my latest (mobile phone) camera, and like ball point pens. Provided you have some cash left over after you have fed and housed yourself and kept yourself warm (not everyone does), then life has got lots more fun, given how many and how much better are the toys and times you can now buy for the same money.
Life has not improved much for those who have fun only when the fun they get is too expensive for most others to be able to indulge in. But that’s a thought for a different posting.