Taking off from London City Airport in 2014

There’s no way I’d be inflicted the job of sticking up these thirty photos upon myself, let along the actual photos on any of you, were it not for the magic of WordPress Gallery, which enables me to shove them all up in one big lump, and you to click through them with just twenty nice clicks. Or not. As you please.

As if often the case, I display them in spite of their photographical quality, but because what they show is so interesting. My plane that day took off right over my favourite clutch of places in the whole world.

Here’s where the plane took off from, flying from right to left:

And here is what I photoed from it, presumably in defiance of the instructions of the people bossing the plane, from just before take-off until we arrived, I’m pretty sure, at the English Channel. I was on the left of plane, pointing my camera south towards the River, at any rate at first:

I particularly like the early ones there, of the territory between the western bit of the Victoria Dock and the River. We clearly see the Thames Barrier, and the Dome of course, but I love all that ever-changing muddle in between. I may well, although of course I promise nothing, be using some of those photos again, one at a time, when discussing the details of how this part of London has changed, is changing and will change. No way does it look the same now.

Later you can see, I think, the Walthamstow reservoirs (which call themselves the Walthamstow “Wetlands”), a golf course (which one, I have no idea), a very particular road intersection (ditto), and an aerial view of The Scream, that painting of a woman screaming, with a friend. Then, would that be the Isle of Wight? Don’t know. Commenters who like this kind of thing can, if they wish, elucidate.

If that’s right we did a 270 degree turn, first going north and then going south, on our way to Brittany. Presumably this was to make sure we kept well clear of anything to do with Heathrow.

Jeppe Hein’s red seat sculptures outside the Royal Festival Hall

There are seven of them, and they are bright red. Here are fourteen photos (two of each) that I photoed in November 2018. The weather was grim, making everything else look decidedly monochrome by comparison:

Which I think worked rather well to show how these bright red objects brighten up a part of London still ruled by orthodox Modernists and their monochromatic prejudice against “imposed ornament”. They prefer imposed boredom. This is called “structural honesty”. And honestly, this can get very boring.

Here are some more photos, photoed on that same November day, of these sculpturised bits of furniture, concentrating more on the Royal Festival Hall context, and making it clear that the point of these things is that they can be sat on. When they can be sat on, that is. The final one above, for instance, is very bum-hostile. Number three is not much better, but as you will see below, a group of people did manage to perch themselves upon it:

These red Things are the work of the Danish sculptor Jeppe Hein, who looks like this.

He calls them Modified Social Benches. The above red London ones were installed in 2016. And he did similar ones for New York, around the same time:

And a more complicated one, not red, in 2019, in Venice:

And various others in various other places.

This guy would appear to be a lot like Antony Gormley in how he operates. Once he has found a formula for a particular family, so to speak, of sculptures, he deploys the formula in various different spots around the world. With Gormley, it was those Gormley Men, lots or just a few of them. With this guy, benches all in the same style with local variations and complications to suit the budget and the location.

Like Gormley, Hein has devised other formulae, which strike me as a lot less appealing than this modified social bench formula.

Also like Gormley, Hein emits the usual dreary ideological orthodoxies of his time concerning such things as climate change, and as soon as he opens his mouth to explain what he reckons he is doing with this or that piece of his work, I switch off. I just like the red benches he did for London, for my reasons rather than for his. If my reasons overlap in any way with his reasons, fine. If not, also fine.

Jeppe Hein has been a very busy man.

Weird transport contraption

I do like the word “contraption”. Contraption. And this is definitely a particularly contraptional contraption:

I had this lined up to go in this earlier posting, but for some reason I neglected it at the moment that mattered.

This was photoed in Parliament Square, late in the day on April 29th 2011, which was the day of the marriage of Prince William and Kate Middleton. Here is what I said on the Old Blog about that.

I tend to judge the quality of my photos not just by things like artistic impression, but also by how many Things That Interest Me are present. So, in this case: weird transport contraption, photoer with the camera covering his face, lots of Union Jacks (although sadly none with the colours changed), tick tick tick.

But also, note the presence of Urban Tents, i.e. the sort of tents that don’t need soft ground to be erected on because they don’t require tent pegs like the tents of my youth did. Urban Tents are a feature of modern life and they are starting to interest me a lot. Tick. Note the presence below, in the category list for this posting, of “Architecture”. In their soft and temporary way, that is what Urban Tents are. They may well soon have their own category here.

Lining up Big Ben with a little Big Ben

On September 13th 2018, Big Ben was looking much as it does now, being smothered in scaffolding:

It looked, for a moment in October 2019, as if this scaffolding would come down, but all that went was the scaffolding at the very top.

So anyway, on that September day in 2018, on Westminster Bridge, I came upon a lady who had an answer to the problem of photoing Big Ben at a time when Big Ben was not looking like Big Ben. She put her own little Big Ben in front of the scaffolding encrusted actual Big Ben, thus:

Many Londoners find tourist fun tiresome. Personally I love it when tourists have tourist fun in this particular way, sticking their own small thing in front of a Big Tourist Thing, like Big Ben, or the Wheel or Westminster Abbey or the Shard. Whenever I see fun like this, I have fun of my own photoing it.

One of the photos I photoed of this lady was of her turning, and looking straight at me. She grinned as she saw what I was doing, and then carried on with her own photoing. Nevertheless, I choose not to include that photo in my little gallery of her. She was making a bit of a spectacle of herself, so it was a borderline decision.

She wasn’t making nearly such a spectacle of herself as was the lady featured in the previous posting here.

A favourite posting featuring Dame Edna

As already reported, those who now dip into the Old Blog are no longer greeted with the Screen of the Red Death. But Google still says it’s “not secure”, and the whole point of this New Blog is it works far better, no matter what kind of hardware you are using. So, I’m still transferring stuff from the Old Blog to here,whenever the mood takes me.

Yesterday I transferred a particularly favourite posting, from way back in 2007, which featured a photo by me of a celebrity whom I encountered in Piccadilly Circus:

There is also, in this old posting, a photo of men wearing mankinis. Being photoed by others besides me, naturally.

All this happened on the one afternoon.

Get ready for electric scooter racing

It seems that my current obsession with e-scooters is quite widely shared. That being why I am obsessed with them.

As of now, e-scooters are only borderline legal. In some primitive places e-scooters are illegal in all public places.

Elsewhere, such as in London, well, as it says here:

Electric scooters have long been something of a grey area, ..

You can hire them and ride them, but you can’t own them and ride them. Or something.

Meanwhile, yesterday, I was out for a bit, and spotted three more e-scooters scooting by. The people are fast making up their minds. The regulators need to catch up, or they’ll start looking very silly.

See also, Michael’s comment on an earlier posting here, about how the path is being cleared by cyclists for e-scooters. The regulators are creating e-scooter paths, which they now call “cycle lanes”.

So, cyclists are smoothing the ride for e-scooters. I seem to recall once upon a time reading that cyclists, way back when, did something rather similar for cars. They created a demand for flatter and better roads. Which the cars then proceeded to dominate, until now, in places like London, where so many of the cyclists are members of the regulating classes. E-scooters are more evenly matched against cyclists. Perhaps because of that, expect battles. Maybe the e-scooters, like cars, will get kitted out with bumpers at the front.

A giant pink flamingo now presides over London

On the same photo-walk that I photoed the Red Lion (see immediately belw) I also came upon this:

And I got a hell of a shock, I can tell you. I am fond of graphic representations of London’s ever more entertaining skyline, so I took a close look at this piece of graphic fun and games. But but but!!! had they suddenly constructed a giant flamingo in the middle of London which I hadn’t heard about until now?!?

Turned out the Wheel is now the last minute dot com “London Eye”, and the pink flamingo is something to do with last minute dot com and the fact it helps you book hotels in foreign parts. At the last minute, presumably.

A giant flamingo might be quite a good idea. How about somewhere out east, beyond the Thames Barrier? That part of London could use a bit of livening up, with a giant tourist trap. Ideally, you could go up its vertical leg in a lift. Then stop off at a restaurant in the middle. Then climb up its neck on a staircase, from which you could view the estuary, and central London.

The South Bank (red) Lion

There has been lots of photo-reminiscing here lately, so here are some photos I took much more recently. Well, in May of this year anyway:

Yes, it’s the lion at the South Bank end of Westminster Bridge.

This South Bank Lion has quite a history, the strangest thing being that it used to be red. I was going to show you the “photo” of the lion when it was red that I found
here
, until I realised it was faked with Photoshop. But that link is worth following.

The lion hasn’t always perched on the bridge. His first home was on top of the Lion Brewery, a booze factory once based on a site now occupied by the Royal Festival Hall.

I bet the brewery would have made a better concert hall than the accursed RFH.

This photo, on the other hand, of the lion with men and scaffolding is genuine:

The photograph above was kindly shared by Nick Redman of London Photos, whose grandfather (second on the left) was one of the scaffolders who helped move the lion from the soon-to-be-demolished brewery.

I found that here. Also well worth clicking on.

I assume this must be why so many pubs are called “The Red Lion”.

Apparently Emile Zola was very fond of this lion. Blog and learn.

Pavlova dances – backed by a line of cranes

From 2014. Cranes, having spent the day transforming the top end of Victoria Street, relax by going out dancing with Pavlova:

The statue is carefully contrived to look beautiful. The cranes are just cranes. No aesthetics went into them at all. Yet they look beautiful also.

Spot the traffic light.

A smart and skinny skyscraper in Melbourne

Some Australian architects called Bates Smart have completed a very skinny skyscraper in Melbourne.

Skinny skyscrapers are now a definite trend. I recall speculating that this trend might have something to do with views having become a bit more desirable. But it is clear that what is really happening is that plots of available urban land are getting smaller, while structural engineering is getting cleverer. They build these Thin Things because they have long wanted to, and because they now can.

Personally I like the look of these Thin Things very much. Your typical old school skyscraper is often suitably elegant from afar, but when you stand right next to such a Thing at ground level it can be a bit overhearing, and just plain big. This Thin Thing has, at its base, a little decorated frontage left over from the previous building, that is no wider than a terrace house.

So, Keeping Up Appearances at ground level, while above that, the new stuff above soars off into the sky. This is a style I really like. Front doors need to announce themselves, in the established language of older and smaller buildings. What happens above them can just be tall and shapely. (That creaking sound you hear is the cadaver of Ayn Rand, turning in her grave.)

Since the top of this Thing is sliced off in the above-right photo, here’s how that top looks:

We have plenty of Keeping Up Appearances buildings in London, but I wish we had more of these Thin Things. Something to do with the soil? Maybe later. Sooner rather than later is my hope.